It’s clichéd but true: falling in love is easy at sunset. At day’s end, when the sun dips toward the horizon and bathes everything—including your companion’s adoring expression—in an amber glow, it’s hard not to feel infused with dreamy inner warmth. After all, thousands of postcards and screen savers can’t be wrong.
But though every sunset is beautiful in its way, real romantics (and their wedding planners) scour the globe, seeking the truly spectacular vantage points—the ones with the most vibrant colors and swoon-worthy vistas. What makes a sunset view truly unforgettable? Not surprisingly, there are almost as many opinions as there are sunsets.
“You need an expansive view uncluttered by tall trees and hills,” advises Lester Lefkowitz, a lecturer at New York City’s International Center of Photography and author of four photography books. And many agree that classic, wide-open skies—whether they’re over the sea or the desert—allow for uninterrupted viewing of the sun’s grand farewell.
Others, though, prefer the contrast of dramatic peaks, landforms, and architecture to offset evening’s fiery colors. For instance, soaring Hawaiian mountains, stately European buildings, and ancient Asian temples all lend their own majesty to the sunset.
Still others, though, believe that identifying the world’s best sunset spots has more to do with science than aesthetics. According to Stephen Corfidi, lead forecaster at the National Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, the grandest sunsets are in warmer latitudes; in cold climates, inversion layers trap a hazy layer of air near the ground, which can dull the colors. A little rain bodes well for a glorious sunset, too, Corfidi says; in the tropics—like Tahiti’s Bora-Bora—the frequent showers scrub the air of dust and grime, so evening hues look brighter.
Contrary to popular belief, Corfidi says, pollution doesn’t cause a more vibrant display. “If this were true,” he says, “then cities like New York and Mexico City would be famous for spectacular sunsets, and they’re not.”
Of course, urban romantics needn’t worry too much—a holiday, or even a day trip, may be all that’s required to get to a prime sunset-viewing spot. And the best thing about sunsets is, there’s no shortage of them. If you don’t catch a perfect one today, you can always try for tomorrow.