One of the best things when traveling is that if you wake up early enough for the sunrise, you can enjoy relaxing and savoring every moment without having to rush. Sip your morning coffee and gaze out at the view for the perfect way to start the day. These destinations are especially worth rising early for.
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Bahía Concepción, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Visit one of the most breathtaking stretches of white, powder sugar-like beaches in Baja and you can also look forward to jaw-dropping sunrises that are surely some of the most impressive on Earth. Bahia Concepcion is one of the most famous beaches in the region, beginning just south of the town of Mulege, spanning for more than 20 miles. The dramatic scenery offers countless photo-ops in addition to sunrises, with an array of vibrant shades of blue. The waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking or you can head underwater to discover everything from sea turtles and pufferfish to manta rays. Keep an eye out for whales and sea lions!
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is in the heart of Australia’s Outback red rock country, famous for its sunrises and sunsets. An iconic symbol of the country itself, Uluru Rock has been depicted on countless postcards and travel brochures for decades. The striking red monolith looms over the landscape at 1,141 feet, forming its centerpiece. It also bears multiple inscriptions made by ancestral indigenous peoples. Visit the area at dawn to capture the rock silhouetted against the rising sun among the vastness of the half-lit desert landscape.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Another one of the world’s most famous spots for sunrises, the reflection of Angkor Wat is a favorite with many. When the colors begin to dance above the ancient temple spires, your heart might just skip a beat. This is a photographer’s dream, well-worth an early wake-up call. There is far more to capture than the sun rising over the grand temples too, like the carvings placed in the waterfalls and river beds that are said to infuse the passing water with spiritual power, the markets and the Floating Forest at Kompong Phluk.
Santorini may be legendary for its sunsets, but its sunrises are pretty fantastic too. The best place to be to wake up to that glorious sight may be in Oia village which also happens to be the spot famous for its whitewashed homes and blue-domed churches that spill down the caldera. Of course, the island itself is a bucket-list destination with some of the world’s most striking beauty. For more jaw-dropping views, hike the path that runs between Oia and Fira along the edge of the caldera.
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland
Iceland is famous for its magnificent waterfalls, which can be found across the country, but Seljalandsfoss is extra-special. Not only can you walk behind the veil of cascades, but watching a sunrise from here might just be one of the most magical moments of your life. Afterward, you can go check out beautiful Skogafoss, less than a 30-minute drive away and then continue your journey another 30 minutes to reach the country’s famous black sands with basalt columns and the remarkable basalt stacks that rise up from the sea, known as the Vik trolls.
Watching the sunrise, casting its golden colors across the vineyard-covered hills in Tuscany is sure to be memorable too. Borgo San Gimignano, just an hour’s drive from Florence, offers especially striking beauty. It’s filled with grape-covered vines, olive trees, rolling hills, cobbled streets and medieval towers, making it well worth the visit. You can also climb Torre Grossa, the tallest tower in town, to capture some spectacular views.
Haleakala Crater, Maui
Catching a sunrise from Haleakala Crater on Maui is often listed as one of the top things to do on the island. At over 10,000 feet above sea level, this is where you can experience some of the most dramatic sunrises anywhere in the Hawaiian islands. You’ll have to rise very early as it’s a two-hour drive to the summit. Due to the high elevation, it’s usually quite cold at the top, so you’ll need to bring clothing for chilly weather too. Some resorts, like Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and other outfitters will bring you to the top where you’ll get a bike to ride back down the mountain.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaro National Park is located in southern Arizona near Tucson. It protects and preserves a giant saguaro cactus forest that stretches across the valley floor. For magnificent sunrise views, with the saguaros bathed in the early morning light, head to the park’s Rincon Mountain District on the east side of Tucson. Enjoy the scenic eight-mile Cactus Forest Loop Drive and stop at one of the vista points for a mesmerizing show.
Amelia Island, Florida
High on the list of priorities in Amelia Island is watching a beach sunrise. With the island just two miles or so across at the widest point, you’re sure to be within easy reach no matter where you stay. If you’re lucky enough to be here when the sunrise occurs around low tide, you’ll even get to watch the reflection in the calm tidal pools. This is a perfect time for beach strolls, with softer early light and deeper colors of sunrise diminishing quickly into an almost always bright morning for a day at the seaside.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is 90 minutes south of Albuquerque and is a haven for bird photographers with the Rio Grande River cutting through this oasis in the desert. If you can make it for a sunrise between November and January, you might be able to catch an incredible photo like this with the birds soaring through the colorful sky.