This post was contributed by Couples Travel Experts, Mack & Laura.
Soft light, blended tones, soothed souls. The first breaths of a fresh day; a slow, restful sigh at the end.
There is a reason why we gravitate towards sunsets and sunrises. Why we set our alarms early, pause during our evening commute, gather our friends or seek a moment alone. Why we stop, toast, and watch. These are the moments which move us more deeply than any others in the sunlit hours.
Laura and I find that each sunrise or sunset leaves an imprint on us wherever we are in the world. We remember them and when we need to escape, we go back to them. And so, here they are. Our favourite places in the world to raise a coffee or a cold one, and toast to another wonderful day.
Thar Desert, India
There is something about serenity that elevates any sunset or sunrise to a special new level. Camping deep in the Thar Desert, on the India-Pakistan border we were treated to the peace and quiet we had been craving in a country of well over a billion people. Reds and golds dominated the sky while the sun set and rose here.
The sky shone richly over rippling dunes and with no other souls in sight, the silence was absolute. We spent each night snug in our sleeping rolls, straight on the sand watching the sun leave and come back, bringing the most amazing colours with it.
Two memories stand out in my mind from our trip to Queensland. The first is the sunrise atop Mt Tibrogargan in the Glass House Mountains. Local friends had promised us an early morning hike with an amazing sunrise. The hike turned out to be more like a lesson in barefoot bouldering in the pre-dawn gloom and while that part of it was an adventure in itself, the sunrise exceeded our wildest expectations.
We sat high on a ledge, with a sheer drop to the plains below while the sun rose slowly out of the ocean. From our vantage point, we watched the sun working its way across the valley, illuminating hills and mountaintops, and easing life back into our frozen toes. It was the kind of morning which reminds us what this life is really all about. One which I will never forget.
The second was every bit as beautiful and, admittedly, a little more relaxed. Sunset in the Whitsunday Islands. We were making our way back to our catamaran from an afternoon in the bay to find our boat framed in sunset glow beneath a cotton-candy sky. There is something special about the sun setting beyond the sea, and we sat bobbing in our little zodiac for a time watching the ocean and sky play with each other.
Western Cape, South Africa
Sunsets, like everything, are unique. All the planning and timing in the world will not help you recreate the magic of those perfect moments. Sometimes, you just need to get lucky. And when you do get lucky, pay attention.
Driving along the Western Cape of South Africa, we were treated to a moment just like this. A storm was brewing in the South Atlantic and a strong wind had blown in from far gone Antarctica. As that lonesome breeze blew it kicked up a salty mist, scattering the afternoon light. It felt like we were driving through a fine golden rain, which clung to everything it touched. The world’s hard edges softened and as we wound our way around the narrow lane all the tensions we held softened too.
Each morning visitors to Bagan are treated to a truly incredible sight. As the sun rises it illuminates over 2,000 ancient Buddhist temples, pagodas and shrines. They rise like little islands of rosy stone in a sea of sand and shrub.
Hot air balloons carry tourists over these plains just as the sun breaks the horizon, offering a different perspective for passengers and adding a dramatic effect for those watching from the ground. The history, culture, and undeniable natural beauty of this timeless region combine to produce some of the most serene sunrises and sunsets we have ever been lucky enough to witness.
Mt Zwegabin, Myanmar
Just outside of a little town in Myanmar called Hpa-An, stands Mt Zwegabin. A lonesome sheer-sided mountain, it stands alone far above the river valley. Pagodas dot its lower peaks, all connected by a thin winding ridge and alone at its highest point, rests the most beautiful monastery we have ever seen. Those who are willing can follow the winding path up the side of the mountain to visit the monastery. Here, we were lucky enough to witness one of the most memorable sunsets in our lifetime.
As the sun fell through the sky it left behind incredible striations of colour which ran along the horizon. Pinks, purples, oranges, and reds ran together in great swaths as though a painter had led the colours across the canvas with his brush, one atop the other. And shining amid all this colour was the sun, distinct against the background and sharp at the edges. We had never seen a sky behave in this way nor had we ever seen the sun so clear with no flare at its edges. Sitting atop a mountain, watching the sun painting the sky and listening to monks reciting verses is an experience which is hard to do justice to with words. You just have to feel it.
Kuta Lombok, Indonesia
Soaked in salt and surrounded by friends we sat high on a headland and toasted a great day of surfing at Sunset Point on Lombok, Indonesia. The ocean and sky were alight with pale gold. The afternoon sun was warm, a gentle breeze blew and perfect waves were breaking far below. We were present; we were contented and it was beautiful. Everything you could hope for in a sunset.
British Columbia, Canada
Mountains to oceans and everything in between. British Columbia is big, it’s beautiful and it’s an outdoorsman’s (or woman’s) paradise. This winter we strapped up the snowshoes for a winter hike to a cabin high in the mountains above the Sunshine Coast. The cold toes were worth it for the chance to catch golden light filtering through snowbound evergreens and bounce off heaping drifts. This winter wonderland brought us unbelievable sunsets and sunrises, beautifully coloured skies and a brilliant Milky Way.
While the cabin was plenty cozy, we understand if hikes through the snow and chilly mornings aren’t your thing. A comfier option is to rug up with a fire on one of Tofino’s many beaches to watch as the sun settles down into the Pacific.
Here we have been treated to stormy sunsets one night and tranquil ones the next. The weather and ocean are ever changing but these rugged shores can be every bit as beautiful in a winter storm as they are on a calm summer day. Sunset in Tofino never disappoints.
Pulau Kapas, Malaysia
Pulau Kapas is a sunset heaven. We visited this island on Malaysia’s East Coast during the last week of the dry season. The encroaching monsoon brought with it a layer of dark clouds which sat low on the horizon.
Each night as the sun sank into the ocean, the rays filtered through this cloud layer creating murky and moody sunsets filled with blacks and reds. In a world full of light and colour, these sullen sunsets were a rich and captivating contrast.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana
If you have ever seen the Lion King, you will probably remember the sinking sun framed by an acacia tree hanging in a blood red sky. Whenever we imagined an African sunset, this was the scene we pictured. We could never have imagined that this dream would become a reality.
Nowhere else in the world have we seen the sky turn this deepest shade of red. Each night as the sun worked its way toward the horizon, it grew in size and clarity until it sat in the sky – perfectly defined. A great ball of fire, floating in a ruddy sky. Watching African wildlife canter across the plain silhouetted against these spectacular skies are memories which we will treasure forever.
We hope that you, like us, see the beauty in both a rising sun and a setting one. Some of our favourite memories from our travels consist of nothing more than the two of us watching the sun meet the horizon. In our opinion, there aren’t many better feelings.
Wherever you are in the world, grab your favourite person, snuggle up with a blanket and relax while the sun does its thing. It’s the easiest way to find a smile.