After traveling in Norway on our Into the Midnight Sun cruise itinerary, I’ve grown an appreciation for sunrise. We spent the better part of a week where the time between sunset and sunrise was only about an hour, so it was easy to watch the sun come up.
But what about when watching a sunrise is a little more difficult?
Here are some creative places around the world where watching the sunrise can be a romantic, inspiring, and enjoyable experience.
- Pawleys Island, South Carolina – The beach houses and historic inns on Pawleys Island offer a feeling of home while still providing a nod to generations of island tradition. Arrogantly shabby properties provide both character and comfort, and the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere of the island are a great combination to watch the sun come up.
- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – For sunrise packed full of the power of history, Gettysburg provides an eerily breathtaking experience. Pause for a moment and think of soldiers who watched the sun come up over the battlefield and what their sacrifices meant to their families and the country.
- Red River Valley, North Dakota – The Red River Valley surrounds Fargo, North Dakota, and its ridiculously flat landscape means an unobscured view of sunrise. It also makes the sky look huge, almost like you’re surrounded by a globe of the sky. And, its four seasons give you a different sunrise view each time of the year (Fall gives you the infamous golden waves of grain).
- John Glenn Astronomy Park – Located in the picturesque Hocking Hills (Ohio), the John Glenn Astronomy Park has many features that make for a superb sunrise experience. A giant sundial in the center of the solar plaza is surrounded by Stonehenge-like stone walls. It’s extra special on the equinox and solstice days as the openings in the wall frame the sunrise. creating a mystical experience.
- Mesa Arch, Utah – Chances are you’ve seen the beautiful Mesa Arch in Utah as it’s a famous destination for photographers. While it’s picture-perfect most all of the time, at sunrise the bottom of the arch glows from the reflected sunlight.
- Los Cabos, Mexico – I wanted to include one luxury destination, and the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Los Cabos tops the list. Watching the sun come up on the Baja Peninsula from the oceanfront terrace of the Presidential Suite, followed by a dip in the private plunge pool and breakfast, will spoil you.
- St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – Point Udall, on the eastern tip of St. Croix, is the first place in the United States for the sun to come up. There a tradition among island visitors to make the drive to the Point to be among the very first people to watch the sunrise.
- Cape Spear, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada – The provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America. Depending on the time of year, you can not only see the sunrise from its first location in North America, but5 only get a view of icebergs and humpback whales.
- The Inca Trail – Hike the Inca Trail and feast your eyes over the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu just as the sun’s first rays cast their morning shadows on this magnificent historical structure. A dawn tour on the trip will let you see the site at its most evocative and quiet time of day.
- Mount Pico, Portugal – At over 7,700 feet, Mount Pico is the highest mountain in Portugal, and is designated as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. This natural reserve is a good spot to kick off the day.
- Utakleiv Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway – We visited the Lofoten Islands and were amazed and the blue water and white sand beaches that lie north of the Arctic Circle. The beaches are surrounded by jagged mountains and dramatic scenery and are a magical spot to experience the Midnight Sun. The favorable gulf stream means that extremes of temperature are rare
- Edinburgh, Scotland – Fingal, a ship permanently moored in Leith, is a sister property to the Royal Yacht Britannia. The majority of cabins have private outdoor deck space, providing a place for you to watch the sun come up and feel like royalty.
- Pic du Midi, France – Located in the French Pyrenees, the astronomy observatory at the nearly 9,500 feet Pic du Midi was used for planning the Apollo moon landings. Not a bad place to watch the sun come up.
- Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa – Wake up surrounded by elephants, antelope, and zebra in the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa (it borders Botswana). While you’ll be ensconced in luxury, sunrise provides an opportunity to primitively bond with nature and wildlife.
- Mount of Olives, Jerusalem – Situated on the eastern side of ancient Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives is actually a mountain ridge with three peaks, offering spectacular views across Jerusalem, in particular, the Old City of Jerusalem, making sunrise spectacular and moving. While I don’t consider myself a religious person, I couldn’t help but be moved when I visited this historical location.
- Soneva Jani, Maldives – The view will be one of endless blue at you watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean during a private yoga session at Soneva Jani. Gives new meaning to Salute the Sun.
- Khor al Adaid, Qatar – Khor Al Adaid (which means Inland Sea, lies in southeastern Qatar on the border of Saudi Arabia. It is surrounded by desert landscape, and while it was once a refuge for pirates from Abu Dhabi, today Khor Al Adaid a UNESCO listed natural reserve. It is inaccessible by road, you get there by crossing the dunes, you can watch the sunrise in a unique eco-system in one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert.
- Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia – The white sand crescent of Bondi beach is one of the best known and most photographed in Australia. Watch the sun come in up an early morning surf session, sitting on top of your board and watching the first light hit the water.
- Kiribati – Caroline Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is where the sun first rises over land anywhere in the world. Nobody lives there. The nearest inhabited place to see these first rays of daylight is on Christmas Island (also part of Kiribati), about 1,000 miles to the north. Not a bad second choice.
- Tasmania – Saffire Freycinet is located on Tasmania’s southeast coast and offers a sunrise view over the Hazards Mountains, famous for its pink granite rock peak. While you may expect that pink glow and sunset, here you get it for sunrise as well.
- Wairarapa, New Zealand – Located on New Zealand’s east coast, the Castlepoint area is small in population, but big on history. The coastline was the spot of many shipwrecks, so a lighthouse was erected. The lighthouse has been modernized, but still serves as both a historical landmark and a romantic spot to watch sunrise overlooking a limestone reef.
- Antarctica – The Antarctica travel seasons run from October to early March, and the sun only dips at each of the travel season, so there are limited opportunities to watch the sunrise. But if you get up very early in the morning on an Antarctica cruise, you can watch the low sun coming up and creating an orange glow on the sides of the icebergs you sail past. It’s remote and alone, and some feel very spiritual.
- Home – No matter how far and wide you may travel, there’s something about getting up early and watching the sun come up at home. It’s a chance to see the familiar in an unfamiliar way, and always makes me agree with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.”
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Photo credit: Pexels / Pixabay