It may be a bit of a cliché, but there are few things more relaxing in life than watching a beautiful sunset at the end of a long day (preferably with a drink in hand). Whilst reclining in leisure as the sun goes down is something that can be done anywhere, there are certain places in the world where doing this is particularly rewarding.
In this guide, we will take you through our favourite spots for sitting back and watching day turn into night – along with a few hints on what else you can do there before or after the sun goes down.
You may think that Hawaii is something of a stereotypical choice when it comes to listing beautiful, laid-back destinations but – as you can see from the picture above – there is a reason why it still remains one of the most popular holiday destinations globally.
As well as being packed full of activities and interesting sights, the natural beauty of Hawaii is undeniable and unforgettable. There are spots all over the islands where you can see what are arguably the world’s most beautiful sunsets, and we spoke to Go Hawaii (the official organisation promoting Hawaii tourism in Europe) about what they think the very best locations for this are.
‘I would definitely recommend places like North Shore O‘ahu, the pier by Honolulu yacht harbour, Waikīkī Beach, Alo Moana beach, Kona, the cliffs at South Point Hawai‘i island, and Haleakalā.’
As you can see, there are plenty of places for you to choose from, which gives you the perfect excuse to spend more than just a few days there! Of course, you probably wouldn’t want to book a cruise holiday somewhere just to look at its sunsets, so it’s fortunate that there are plenty of other exciting ways to pass the time in the 50th US state.
Despite being a hotbed of visitor activity since the first half of the 20th Century, Hawaii still proudly retains an incredible amount and variety of natural beauty. From the classically beautiful white sand beaches to the dense tropical flora of the rainforest, even those who think they know Hawaii will be amazed at the extraordinary diversity of natural highlights that can be found there.
Water sports, whale spotting trips and genuinely inspiring cuisine are just some of the other delights you will encounter on your trip to Hawaii, whilst even history buffs will find something to enjoy if they visit the historic site of Pearl Harbor to the west of Honolulu. Visiting this memorial to what was one of the most significant events of World War II is a truly humbling experience and will leave you with an even keener sense of how fortunate you are to be able to explore this beautiful area in peace and at your leisure.
Going back to the focus of our guide, however, Go Hawaii also helped to explain why exactly watching the sun set in Hawaii is such a completely relaxing experience: ‘A large part of Hawai‘i’s spiritual draw can be attributed to its unique and inspirational sunset views. Nowhere else on Earth can you witness the sky turning orange with the sea purple in a light show that takes your breath away. The sunshine that provided you with the aloha spirit for beach and outdoor fun sinks peacefully into the sea as if being tucked in after a hard day’s work.’
Cuba’s recent history has been filled with political and social upheaval. Sadly, the Caribbean island is probably best known to many for its strained relationship with the US. However, anyone who has visited this unusual and enchanting destination will know that there is so much more to Cuba than the picture we are presented with on the news.
We spoke to the experienced travel bloggers Two Scots Abroad about why they love Cuba, and why it is their top pick for seeing a gorgeous sunset:
‘Cocktails, CUCs and communism! These are three things that spring to mind when you say Cuba. However, you may be surprised to hear that we (Craig and I, Gemma) witnessed some of the most intense sunsets of our 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe in Cuba's Havana and Varadero. Morro Castle (the fort) in Havana is a cool spot to enjoy the sun going down before watching the nightly Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña (Cannon show) at 9pm. Nice views of the city can also be found at the rooftop of the Camera Obscura. The sunsets in Varadero were electric and best viewed from the sun loungers of the private beach at our resort, with a Cuba libre in hand of course!’
Cuba is an extraordinary and unique country; just setting foot in the homeland of quality cigars, vintage American cars and Fidel Castro is an experience worth talking about, but you will find that the whole place is full of things to see and do.
As well as its stunning beaches and the street music that will fill your ears as you wander through Havana and beyond, there are more hidden historical and cultural gems that you could imagine. The Museo de la Farmacia Habanera la Reunion in the capital, for example, is a museum with a difference, introducing its visitors to a fascinating range of medicinal artefacts from the mid-19th to 20th centuries. Like much of the island, however, it is the museum’s incredible architecture, rather than its displays, which will live longest in the memory.
The island’s mix of neoclassical and baroque architecture is a joy to behold, and just one of the ways in which Cuba may surprise you when you visit on a Regent Seven Seas cruise or another favoured line.
Brazil – Ipanema
A vibrant and beautiful country of contrasts, Brazil is perhaps home to more colour and excitement than any other nation on Earth. However, if you go to the right places, you will also find that there are few places better to unwind and watch the sun go down.
The globally famous Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro is known as a hub of the city’s fashionable social set, with its trendy bars and beach sports conjuring up all the classical images of exotic indulgence and escapism.
However, if you look beyond all that manmade elegance, you will also find some truly stunning features which help to make it an amazing location for seeing the sun set. The ‘Two Brothers’ mountains found at the western end of the beach are perhaps not what you would expect to find in the midst of the golden sands, cocktails and beach volleyball which can be seen below, but their imposing peaks provide an extraordinary backdrop to the setting sun as it disappears beyond the horizon.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Ipanema, however, is its ‘hippie market’, which was founded as far back as 1968 and continues to this day. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, the market is still worth going along to, with in the region of 700 stalls selling everything from art and jewellery to clothing and food, all with an authentic Brazilian twist. Unlike many contemporary markets, most of what you will find at Ipanema is genuinely handmade and available at reasonable prices. That is not to say that you can’t have a good barter with the vendors, however – locals suggest that going for about two-thirds of the asking price is the general rule if you are in the mood for some friendly negotiating!
The whole world has been focusing on Brazil recently, due to its hosting of the football World Cup and the Olympic Games, but even all this media attention did not fully do justice to the treasure trove of delights that is the largest country in South America. Visiting Brazil is akin to opening your eyes to an entirely new way of life; you will see things through a new perspective once you’ve arrived back on familiar shores from this enigmatic destination, and your mind is sure to drift back to the sands of Ipanema whenever you see another beautiful sunset.
Indonesia – Raja Ampat
Indonesia in South East Asia consists of literally thousands of islands so, however long you spend here on your next Crystal Cruises holiday, you will likely never see all of the places where you can witness a sunset to remember here. However, there is one spot which stands out above all the others, and we spoke to the travel blogger Emily Luxton about why this is the case:
‘Some of the nicest sunsets I've ever seen were in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This little-known part of the world is the kind of place that people can't help but describe as "paradise" - and sunset was no exception.’
As with all the other destinations we have included here, however, there are many more reasons for visiting this corner of Indonesia than just its sunsets, as Emily explains. ‘Secluded beaches, almost-deserted islands, and a beautifully sleepy pace of life make Raja Ampat a total dream come true. Other highlights include snorkelling and diving in some of the clearest waters in the world, and taking in the views from Pianemo.’
As well as the Raja Ampat archipelago, we would also recommend taking a trip to Komodo Island, which is part of Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. Whilst they may not be quite as relaxing as a calm sunset, the 17,000 Komodo dragons which populate the island are certainly worth travelling all this way to see. These prehistoric animals are the largest living lizard species in the world, and you will truly be amazed when you encounter their three-metre forms; however, you would be advised to keep your distance and always stay with an expert guide – the Komodos do have a history of seeing humans as prey!
Relaxation will be the name of the game for most of your trip to Indonesia, however, and Komodo Island also offers the chance to chill out on one of only seven of the world’s ‘pink sand’ beaches. The levels of visibility here are amazing, and you will be able to see starfish, turtles, sharks, manta rays and more if you fancy going snorkelling or scuba diving within this UNESCO-protected marine reserve.
Australia - Queensland
It is no secret that Australia is a marvellous country to spend time in, whatever your cruise holiday style of choice, and the land Down Under is simply too big for us to list all of what it offers to new or returning visitors. However, we can recommend the state of Queensland as possibly the best place for taking in an inspirational sunset.
The picture above gives a flavour of the type of skies you can expect to enjoy when you visit Queensland and, when you are there in person, you will scarcely believe what you are seeing – the colours and cloud formations reflecting on pristinely clear waters are the kind which you will previously only have seen in films and on television. The landscapes here are impossibly beautiful and will create memories to stay with you for a lifetime.
More so than any other place we have listed, you will not be short of other activities to savour when you visit Queensland. It is, of course, home to the Great Barrier Reef, which is arguably the greatest natural structure known to man. Just 45 minutes away from the city of Cairns, the reef has rightfully been designated a World Heritage Site and guests will be able to get up close and personal with a staggering array of marine life in what is Earth’s biggest coral reef ecosystem.
Perhaps slightly less well-known than the reef is Daintree National Park, which is home to arguably the most beautiful and verdant rainforest on the planet. The mental images you have of Australia may consist of dry desert, golden beaches and urban hotspots, but Daintree is home to a surprisingly vast array of plant and wildlife. Providing shelter for some species which are found nowhere else in the world, it also hosts crocodiles and the fascinating cassowary bird.
It would take more than the space we have available to describe to you everything that can be found in the incredible Queensland region, but if cool cities, cute koala bears and unforgettable coastal diving appeals, then you should consider Australia for your next cruise – and don’t forget those mesmerising sunsets!
Greece - Santorini
Much like Australia, the range of places from which you can watch the sun set in style in Greece is almost endless. But also like Australia, we’ve picked out one which we know will leave everyone in awe of its beauty.
The island of Santorini, a member of the Cyclades islands, is possibly the most romantic location in the world, so it is no wonder that it regularly ranks as one of the most popular honeymoon destinations on Earth.
Although it is a location steeped in volcanic activity, guests to Santorini would be forgiven for thinking that its history has been entirely peaceful. Apart from its rugged landscape, the only remnant of the volcanoes which tore the island apart in the 15th Century are its intriguing beaches, which are filled with black and red sand. These are the perfect places from which to see the sunsets that are, according to many who have stayed there over the years, perhaps the very best in the world.
Other highlights of the Greek island include its wine industry, which may be relatively small but whose produce is nevertheless popular throughout Europe and beyond. The dessert wine known as Vinsanto is famous far beyond the shores of Santorini, and there is no better place to try it than on the island itself.
Meanwhile, those who enjoy high quality architecture will be in paradise on a trip to Santorini. Fascinating archaeological remains (the history of which can be explored in detail at the Archaeological Museum) stand alongside whitewashed hilltop houses which are the embodiment of rural Greek charm.
South Africa – Camps Bay
Safaris, lush mountains and a sprawling coastline often come to mind when thinking of South Africa. But as well as the country’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems, South Africa offers the perfect opportunity to see some of the world’s best sunsets.
Dr Paul Johnson, editor of A Luxury Travel Blog, said: “For one of the best places in the world to see the sun set, head for the affluent Cape Town suburb of Camps Bay. Not only will you be treated to beautiful sunsets over the ocean, but you can also enjoy them from the comfort of the variety of bars and restaurants that line the coast.”
Camps Bay Beach has Blue Flag status and is made up of a huge expanse of white sand. Backed by Table Mountain, a spectacular flat-topped mountain and famous landmark of South Africa, the beach is truly a natural wonder. Whether you’re watching the sunset from the beach or on the mountaintop, we’re sure Camps Bay will blow you away.
As you can see, if you are looking for somewhere to enjoy a sunset, your options are not exactly limited. The choices listed above are just a handful of the countless destinations a cruise holiday will allow you to discover and explore, regardless of whether relaxing and watching the sun goes down is high on your list of holiday priorities.
There may be few things better in life than watching the sun go down over a millpond-calm river or sea, with perhaps a rugged mountain range or golden beach providing the scenic backdrop. Nevertheless, all of the above locations offer more than just enchanting views; there is so much to see and do when you take a cruise to your most desired destination that you may never want the sun to set on your journey.