January 10, 2011
Whether you’re just heading home or just getting up, dawn is one of those moments that can really capture the spirit and soul of a destination. And anyway, sunsets are so last year. From misty mountaintops to vast plains, we encourage you to soak up those amber vibes with a handful of our favourite places for an unmissable sunrise”¦
In the Land of the Rising Sun, there’s no better place to see in the dawn than on Japan’s highest peak. Standing above the clouds watching the sun burst through them is the best reason to climb Mt Fuji. So, pack for the cold night and set off at night. It will always be crowded, especially during summer’s official climbing season, but the sense of shared awe and triumph is overwhelming and part of the pilgrimage.
Another of the world’s greatest sunrise peaks doesn’t even require much of a trek. Haleakala Volcano in Maui, Hawaii can be reached – at least as far as the visitor centre – by car. The mountain is linked with a lot of tradition and regarded as a spiritual place and daybreak is usually greeted with mele oli (a sacred poem), making for a meditative experience no matter how packed the peak is.
If you’re visiting Orlando or Miami, anywhere on the Atlantic Coast of Florida can provide a pretty special sunrise. When you know there’s nothing between you and the ocean for thousands of miles and that you’ll be among the first on a whole continent to greet the sun, the experience takes on an extra charm. You’re in the sunshine state, so get up with the gulls and the fishermen and grab the rays – and the best beach spot – before everyone else. If you’re able to get up that far, the views around Jacksonville on the state’s Northeast coast are highly recommended.
You needn’t be in the sky or by the sea for sunrise as long as the scenery and atmosphere is right. On the Masai Mara in Kenya, that means miles of mist-covered flatlands dotted with sparse acacia tree silhouettes and, if you’re lucky some big game. And if one blazing orange sky isn’t enough for one day, stick around and just turn to the west when the equally spectacular sunset comes in the evening.
The ancient city of Varanasi on the west bank of the Ganges in India offers a mystical daybreak experience as locals and pilgrims descend the riverside steps to pray or bathe in the holy water. Take a sunrise tour on rowboat or just take in the magic from the shore.
Even where the true horizon is obscured by myriad manmade structures, sunrises can still be special. We often think of the classic city skylines at dusk or under moonlight, but some afford us a view of dark silhouettes against yellow glow – if we’re up early enough.
The Pudong district of Shanghai, which features the cities tallest, most recognisable buildings, including the rocket-like Oriental Pearl Tower is handily situated on the Huangpu river’s east bank. As famous as the night-lit view is, you get extra drama at dawn.
Similarly, Sydney offers some incredibly vibrant, high contrast viewing if you get in the right spot. Get in position on the west side of the harbour’s Circular Key and watch the sun come up behind the Opera House’s shell-like structures – at the right angle it looks almost as if the building is giving birth.
Have we missed anything? Seen a great sunrise in any of our destinations? Advice, tips and photo links welcome! Let us know in the comments section below.