Gold Coast, Queensland
The early bird catches the worm—or at least the perfect sunrise. For Australians, surfer culture means riding the waves when the world is quiet and it’s just you against the groggy sun (and aggressive waves, but we’ll save that for another post). Savour it along the Gold Coast, where you’ll find 75 kilometres of unadulterated sand, surf and sun. It may be home to Surfer’s Paradise, but you don’t need shaggy hair to soak it in. Best enjoyed with a Tequila Sunrise in hand, just for consistency’s sake. It’s 5:00 somewhere!
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Laguna Beach, California
It’s safe to say that any beach’s awe-factor increases tenfold while glittering under the sky’s golden disco ball. This rings particularly true for Laguna Beach, where sand dwellers cuddle closer as the sky fades to pink and passengers driving along the Pacific Coast Highway pull over to snap a photo. Maybe it’s something in the air at Laguna, or how the swordfish burritos from Bear Flag near the state beach taste that much better under its sunset—either way, this is a tried, tested and true formula for happiness.
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Haleakala National Park, Maui
If sunrise at Haleakala National Park isn’t first on your bucket list, you’re doing it wrong. For unparalleled views of the clouds 10,000 feet above sea level, book your next trip to Maui, Hawaii. This inert 1.1 million-year-old volcano’s summit is the perfect way to soak in the morning sun—but plan your route ahead and bring a GPS, since your sleepiness likely won’t help you on the poorly-lit roads towards the site. On the (literal) bright side, getting there early enough is a two-in-one show. Watch as stargazing slowly transitions into daylight.
You’ve been worshipping the Grecian sun along the coast of the Agean Sea all day, but dusk’s arrival isn’t an invitation to throw in the towel. The sunset at Mediterranean restaurant Kastro is almost ceremonious, where manager Spiros Dimitrulos ensures that “we choose our products from local producers and the olive oil is our own production from our family in the ancient Olympia at Peloponissos.” Tuck into grilled lamb with rosemary sauce and spearmint-flavoured fried meatballs prepared by chefs who’ve been there for 25 years—all while taking in this one-of-a-kind view.
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This is a sunrise you’ll have to work for—and it’ll be totally worth it. Set your alarm for 4:30 a.m. at the nearby Ein Gedi kibbutz (that’s Hebrew for communal living space) and fuel up on enough complex carbohydrates to sustain you all through your hour-long hike up Masada’s winding Snake Path in the Judean Desert. By around 6:30 a.m., the sun will rise to meet your gaze atop the world heritage site bearing the ruins of the King Herod-built ancient Jewish settlements. You’ll be drained (and enthralled!) enough to stare at this gorgeous sunrise before scoping out the on-site artifacts.
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Turtle Rock Hill, Irvine
Think of Los Angeles, but with a pristine silence unique to the scenic suburb of Irvine in Orange County, California. A moderate 10-minute hike up Turtle Rock Hill at sunset is a welcome alternative to the hustle and bustle of city life. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of Los Angeles 40 miles north, and a peek at the Pacific Ocean eight miles west. While there’s no doubt this is a site for sore eyes, Turtle Rock residents are used to it: the entire community is perched on a colony of hills peppered with beautiful pastel-hued architecture.
Mont Royal, Montreal
Just because the provincial government decided to thwart the bill that would allow bars to stay open until 6 a.m., it doesn’t mean that gone are the excuses to stay out ’til the sun comes up. If you’ve ever set foot in Montreal, you know that Mont Royal, located between the Plateau and Outremont boroughs, is a major source of community, pride and debauchery. Just bring a blanket and full-battery phone!
Sunset Park, Ithaca
There’s a reason why you’ll walk past dozens of gift shops bearing shirts that read “Ithaca is Gorges.” Not only is this picturesque upstate New York college town most notorious for its streams gushing from 300-foot-drop valleys, but its sunsets are hard to beat, too. Best enjoyed from the aptly named Sunset Park, you’ll wonder why you ever signed up for Netflix when the sky is both free and impeccable to look at as it glimmers over Cayuga Lake, one of the 11 Finger Lakes.
Treat yourself to a sunrise viewing in the Austria’s county of Tyrol, with its hills lined with cattle and homes that could inspire you to retire early and put down that entire mortgage immediately. More than just a pretty face, the architecture that lines the Tyrolean Alps seems its built for the perfect sunrise viewing as the homes sit perched atop its rolling hills in anticipation of the daily morning show. Pristine and back to basics, it’s an unconventional way to enjoy nature in its purest form.
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You haven’t lived until you’ve rented a gondola for the evening while an animated Venice native dressed as a mime serenades you into the sunset, navigating you through its historic canals. While gondolas are the municipality’s chief means of transportation (it is composed, after all, of 118 islands), it sets a romantic precedent for all tourist-y indulgences. Speak to your guide about venturing off into the more quaint residential interior canals, as opposed to just the Grand Canal. Prosecco is obligatory.
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