The Rainbow Princess

The story of Ua, The Rainbow Princess of Waimea Canyon.

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• General: Educational • General: History
• General: Legends / Mythology

Matt Anderson's Take
Guide Series: Hawaiian Mythology
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According to ancient Hawaiian lore, there was once a family of Hawaiians that were moving to the Nualolo on Kauai's Napali Coast. With a local U-Haul or "Pods" delivery options, moving to the valley was no easy task and required a climb up a swinging ladder that hung over the cliffs.


After several trips carrying their belongings up the ladder, the father of the family made is final trip up the ladder holding Ua, their baby daughter. He put Ua into a carrying net but on the way up dropped the net. As Ua fell, and the family watched in horror, the akua (god) of the rainbow caught the baby before she hit the water.


The baby was carried on the rainbow deep into Waimea Canyon and placed in a cave under the waterfall. Although the family searched for their child, they couldn't find her. The waterfall akua raised the child who eventually grew into a beautiful woman. Ua spent every day sitting on the rocks by the waterfall in the sunshine with a rainbow over her head.

Eventually she was discovered by a prince from Waimea who fell in love with her. The prince wanted to marry The Rainbow Princess and told her so but she refused unless he would call her by her real name. Since the prince didn't know her real name he set out to discover it.

The prince consulted with the kahuna (wise men) of Kauai and, while they had heard of the legend of the waterfall maiden, they didn't know her real name. Refusing to give up, the prince traveled to Maui and Hawaii (and in some forms of the legend, all of the Hawaiian Islands) and consulted the kahuna there but nobody knew of her real name.


After returning home to Kauai, his grandmother learned of his quest and she was able to help him as she knew the real name of the princess under the rainbow. She explained that her name was "Ua" which means "rain" in Hawaiian. The prince rushed off to Ua and called her by her name and the two then got married.

And so goes the legend of Ua, The Rainbow Princess or The Maiden Of Waimea as the legend is also known.
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