No one can deny the sense of awe that comes from watching a magnificent sunset; when the sky is splashed with orange and purple, or blue fades into soft pink before the stars appear. Each beautiful sunset is unique, no matter where you are. However, there are places around the world where you can expect particularly stunning sunsets every day.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Stretching nearly 1,400 kilometres, California’s coastline includes some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. One of the most unusual is Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur State Park, with its interesting rock formations and unique purple sand. The colour of the sand originates from manganese garnett, washed down from higher ground. The real highlight of a visit is at dusk. You have to wait for the perfect moment, when the setting sun shines the last of its rays through the “key hole” in an enormous sandstone formation, just a few metres offshore.
Ayers Rock, Australia
In the southern part of Australia’s parched Northern Territory is the iconic sandstone monolith of Ayers Rock, also known by its aboriginal name, Uluru. Ayers Rock, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is considered sacred by the local aboriginal people, who believe it to be the home of their ancestors and the very origin of dreamtime. The rock is especially spectacular at sunset, when it first glows red and then emanates blues and purples. Waiting in silence as the light withdraws, visitors may experience a spiritual moment in which the significance of the site becomes clear.
Oia village, Santorini, Greece
The white-washed village of Oia perches on a sheer, 150-metre cliff on the northern tip of Santorini, one of the most beautiful of all Greece’s islands. Here you can experience a sunset like no other, with the Aegean waters below and the rich, changing colours of the sky, transforming the white-washed houses and blue-domed churches of the village.
Iceland is famous for its dramatic volcanic landscapes, fjords and icy glaciers. Nowhere is the Icelandic landscape brought to such a beautiful intensity as when the sun sets in Grundarfjordur, a small town pocketed between the mountain and sea on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Nearby is the Snæfellsjokull National Park, with the Snæfellsjökull glacier and lava fields that stay warm even during the long winter.
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
For a truly epic sunset, take the cable car to the top of Cape Town’s Table Mountain on a day when there’s not much of a wind. At the top, look to one side for a sweeping view of ocean and mountains, spanning all the way to the Cape Point peninsula and turning blue as the sky goes orange and pink. Turn the other way for a view of Cape Town’s iconic Signal Hill and the lights of the city coming on, with the waters of Table Bay as the backdrop.
Ki Gompa Monastery
At an altitude of 4,166 metres above sea level, Ki Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was founded in the 11th century. The road leading to the monastery is blocked by snow for half the year, and the nearest village is a two-hour trek. Visitors who make the journey to this remote monastery may be rewarded with a glimpse of heaven as the sun departs, dousing Ki Gompa in a golden light.
El Nido, Palawan, the Philippines
Cliffs of marble towering over deep lagoons, white sandy beaches on the fringes of lush jungle, mangrove forests, prehistoric caves and glittering waterfalls are among the features that attract visitors to El Nido in Palawan. El Nido is also surrounded by the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines. Riding a small boat out to the calm surrounding waters of Bacuit Bay at sundown is an event like no other. The sounds of small-town bustle and nearby wildlife fade slowly as the rich colours of a tropical sunset give way to velvet night.