My mother was always a big fan of sunsets. “Look at that gorgeous sunset!” she’d exclaim. “Big deal, the sun goes down every day,” I’d mumble as I rolled my eyes, unimpressed in true teenager fashion. Well, I turned into my mother, as we are all wont to do. The other day I even caught the phrase, “Look at that giant crape myrtle,” escape my mouth, and I knew the transformation was complete. I even buy rose-colored sunglasses to enhance the sunset, which is how the most ordinary evenings looked extraordinary to her.
From the violet crowns of Texas to sunsets over Kentucky Lake here in my backyard, I now enjoy sunsets just as much as mom. I’ve even had the pleasure of experiencing Grecian sunsets, which a couple of our writers below can attest are the best. When seeking the most beautiful sunsets in the world, we went to the experts: TravelAwaits contributors.
Our writers know the best spots to watch the sun go down. We asked TravelAwaits writers to describe the most stunning sunsets they’ve ever witnessed, from amazing orange and pink to purple-hued twilight. Here’s where you can find their favorite sunset views.
1. Maui, Hawaii
When Arizona-based newspaper reporter, freelance travel writer, and travel blogger Cindy Barks thinks of sunsets, she thinks of Maui. She refers to Hawaii’s tropical Valley Isle as “a veritable sunset machine.” Barks says, “When I met my son and daughter-in-law in Maui in October 2019 for a weeklong stay, the sunsets (and sunrises) were outstanding wherever we happened to be. Whether we were having a cocktail at the Hotel Wailea or spending the evening in the forested area near Haiku, the sunsets did not disappoint.”
“Although it’s difficult to pick just one, my favorite sunset turned out to be the one we took in from the lanai in our Wailea Beach hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani. We watched in awe as the orange globe dipped toward the Pacific Ocean, with vertical bright beams appearing amidst the clouds,” she describes. “The great company and wonderful surroundings probably helped, but for me, that sunset stands out among all others.”
2. Santorini, Greece
A retired elementary school teacher, Jeanine Consoli is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and foodie. She describes her favorite sunset in the Greek Isles on a catamaran cruise in Santorini last month.
“This was a delayed COVID celebration for our daughters’ graduation from college and a family trip. Probably not the last, but it would be difficult going forward. With jobs and commitments, the four of us would find it hard to get time to travel like this again, and we cherished the opportunity. We spent the late afternoon sailing around the beaches, snorkeling, and admiring the volcanic landmass from the sea. As we sailed around the caldera, the actual crater of the ancient volcano, to the city at the very end, Oia, nothing blocked our view of the setting sun. The wide-open Aegean Sea spread out as the bright orange ball began to slowly dip into the deep azure water as the orange, purple, and blues spread out across the open sky. We all cheered and clapped at the sun dipped into the water and hugged tightly, savoring the beauty and the incredible moment,” says Consoli, who says she will cherish the memory forever.
3. Bandon, Oregon
Louisa Rogers is a self-described writer, leadership coach, trainer, ex-pat, hiker, cook, and paddleboarder. She and her husband Barry discovered the sleepy town of Bandon while bicycling down the Oregon coast in the early ’80s. “We were so charmed by this tiny hippie village, located about halfway down the coast, that after a week of hard-core camping, we splurged and stayed in a hostel,” Rogers explains. “Since then, Bandon has grown enormously, with many developments and a famous golf course with what are considered the best links outside Scotland.”
Bandon is also home to Circles in the Sand, which Rogers describes as “a labyrinth in the sand designed by artist Denny Dyke, who first created one in 2011 for his own walking meditation. Since then it has grown to become a popular community experience.”
“The heart of Bandon is still a funky village, where you can walk on the beach, stroll on the Old Town boardwalk, eat clam chowder, visit art galleries, and buy souvenirs,” according to Rogers, who returns annually to meet up with nearby family. “Last month, after we walked on the beach, admired rock formations, and paddled on the Coquille River, we enjoyed my cousin’s pasta in our van. We capped off the evening by watching this sunset,” says Rogers.
4. Northeast Kansas
While sunsets observed from white sand beaches or seen as the sun slips behind majestic mountains are regularly cited as some of the most beautiful, Midwesterner Sage Scott admittedly lives pretty far from either of these landforms. As a single mother of four, the Kansas City-based travel blogger writes for people who have wanderlust and a real life.
Scott thinks that “some of the most beautiful sunsets are when the big blue Kansas sky slowly turns a golden orange as the sun slips behind the horizon in the Sunflower State. And the sunset is even more beautiful when there is an old barn or field of flaxen wheat in the foreground.”
“During my travels, I have witnessed some truly spectacular sunsets. I’ve watched the sun slip behind the Pacific Ocean from Kekaha Beach in Kauai, paint a brilliant backdrop behind the gnarly trees in Joshua Tree National Park, and turn the mountains in Sedona the most brilliant shade of red,” Scott reflects. “But as we Kansans are constantly reminded by the endless Wizard of Oz jokes tossed our way, there’s no place like home.”
5. St. Lucia
The most glorious sunset Christine Chagris ever witnessed was back in 2010 during an island catamaran cruise on a visit to Sandals Grande St. Lucien resort. The Caribbean island of Saint Lucia makes for a romantic getaway, whether you’re looking to elope or celebrate an empty nest. Taking a catamaran is just one of the many shore excursions available.
As their group sailed the crystal clear waters on a balmy, early evening, Chagris describes “the sun setting amid a faintly pink-hued sky and pillow-like clouds in the distance.” Happy to have her camera ready, Chagris says the image she captured evokes “that blissful feeling one gets when all is right with the world and everyday worries just fall away. Just looking at it puts me there again.”
6. The South China Seas
Raised on stories of the high seas by her Captain father, Rebecca Hall decided to see what all the fuss was about for herself. In the summer of 2013, the Girl Gone Greek author took a 31-day voyage from Athens, Greece to Hong Kong aboard a container ship. “Yes, container ships do occasionally take passengers and I was the only one onboard this 27 manned crew,” Hall explains. “We traversed the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, sailed through the Arabian Gulf, and then the South China Seas, stopping off at various points.”
“There were many sunsets to be marveled at on that trip,” she reflects. “Looking out for the rare light phenomenon of refraction (when the sun hits the horizon and a green light bounces off). However, my favorite was as we drifted for a few days in the South China Seas, awaiting instructions to travel onwards to HKG. With the cloud formation, I feel this is so atmospheric and summarizes that despite hard work, why life at sea is so beautiful.”
7. Galápagos, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island
The best sunset former Emmy Award-winning television newscast producer Erika Ebsworth-Goold has ever seen took place in the Galapagos. She and her husband opted to stay in Puerto Ayora. With 12,000 residents, it is the chain’s most populous town.
“I can’t say enough about the biodiversity of the islands,” remarks Ebsworth-Goold. “It was a bit like visiting the land of the lost, as we watched giant tortoises ramble across the countryside and marveled at the underwater ecosystem on each of our snorkel trips. The remote island chain has long been protected in an effort to keep it as pristine as possible, and a fact certainly reflected in the sky that evening.” After a long day of snorkeling off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, Ebsworth-Goold snapped the photo above on their last evening on the walk back from dinner. “Yes, it’s in heart of Puerto Ayora. But those colors? You can’t find them anywhere else on earth,” she surmises.
8. San Francisco Bay, California
Award-winning writer Vanessa Chiasson is aware that San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island isn’t usually associated with beauty. “But there’s remarkable scenery if you know where to look,” Chiasson opines. “The buildings of this once-notorious prison are surrounded by beautiful gardens, some of which were started by prisoners decades ago.” According to Chiasson, “In addition to the usual tours of the property, there are even periodic garden tours led by docents!”
“Inside, things are decidedly grimmer,” Chiasson recalls, “until you notice a glimpse of the brilliant sunset through the windows.” Dubbed “The Rock,” Alcatraz has a storied history. Al Capone was once an inmate, as were conscientious objectors during WWI, often under brutal conditions. “I couldn’t help but think what this glimpse of yellow, orange, pink, and vermillion would have meant to them,” reflects Chiasson. “Seeing the sun start to set by the Golden Gate Bridge on the boat ride to Alcatraz was beautiful, but catching a glimpse of it from inside was much more poignant and memorable.”
9. Mykonos, Greece
As we’ve already established, the Greek Isles are home to some stellar sunsets, and Mykonos is no exception. Melody Pittman and her daughter Taylor Hardy write about luxury travel, culture, and food on their blogs Travel the South and Wherever I May Roam. “The best sunsets I’ve laid eyes on were the evenings in Mykonos, Greece,” Pittman affirms.
“Every day of our 11-day Greece vacation was magnificent, but there is just something magical about Mykonos,” Pittman observes. “It’s romantic and dreamy, yet worldly and sophisticated, and the sunsets are a daily function, just like eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” She describes Mykonos sunsets as “almost tangible — like you could almost touch it in the night sky.” Rooftop and restaurant patios offer the best sunset seats money can buy, Pittman advises. “It seemed like everywhere we were, people just stood and watched when it was time for the sun to set. Time stood still. We all just absorbed the wondrous day’s ending together.”
10. Long Beach, Washington
Stretching for 28 miles, Long Beach is the longest sandy beach on the West Coast. As writer Jo-Anne Bowen describes in her article Discover Washington’s Coastal Hidden Gem: The Long Beach Peninsula, the area boasts miles of sandy beaches, bird watching, historic homes, kite flying, and historic lighthouses, and more. This under-the-radar destination is perfect for a family vacation, fall camping, or both.
Bowen’s best sunset happened to be in her home base of the Pacific Northwest. “The clouds seemed to be on fire with the rays of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean,” she recalls. “Team this setting with the feel of sand beneath my toes, the soft roar of the ocean surf, and the beautiful fall weather and you have the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.”
11. Kuşadası, Turkey
Authors, entrepreneurs, and world travelers Diana Laskaris and Sue Reddel are a package deal, so it’s no surprise that they explored Turkey together. “When we took an extended visit to several areas of Turkey, we had the opportunity to see many lovely natural areas, places filled with important antiquities, and busy metropolitan cities as well,” the duo recaps.
“Turkey is a huge country, but our favorite spot to watch the sunset is a beach town along the coast called Kuşadası,” the pair declares. “People visiting the ancient ruins and historic amphitheater at Ephesus often pass through this beautiful seaside community that hugs the western Aegean. “But the sunset we saw from our small hotel in a quiet corner of Kuşadası was breathtaking and memorable.”
“Visitors often discover Kuşadası when passing through by land to visit the nearby ruins or as a stop on a cruise line,” according to Laskaris and Reddel. “But locals know it as one of the gems of the Aegean, and many have summer homes there. A swim in the pool of our boutique hotel at sunset was as peaceful and refreshing as it was unforgettable. Watching a golden Kuşadası sunset over the sea was a highlight of our Turkish adventure.”
12. Walnut Springs, Texas
Last fall, Texan travel writer and photographer Janie Pace was fortunate enough to capture the most beautiful sunset she’d ever seen from her cabin just west of Walnut Springs, about an hour and a half south of Fort Worth. “The sunset painted the sky with a rainbow of purples, flaming oranges, yellows, and golds like I have never seen before,” Pace relays. “I have photographed a number of sunsets since then, but this one is at the top of the list.”
13. Menemsha, Massachusetts
Located off the coast of Massachusetts on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Menemsha is a small fishing village where tourists and locals flock to watch the sun dip into Vineyard Sound each evening. TravelAwaits V.P., Missy Glassmaker, says the sunsets are made even more spectacular by the fresh seafood you’re able to devour while watching. “Bring a beach blanket and a bottle of wine, and prepare to enjoy all the lobster, chowder, steamers, mussels, and more from the fish markets that are just steps from the beach.” Parking is extremely limited, so be sure to arrive early and stroll through a few nearby shops or just relax on the beach while you wait.
Pro Tip: If you wait to order your seafood until you arrive in Menemsha for sunset you may be out of luck. Call Larsen’s Fish Market or Menemsha Fish Market early in the day and put in your order so it’s ready for when you arrive.
Know of a place that’s just as fabulous or even better? Share your favorite sunset spot with us!