The best sunsets in Australia are easily the best sunsets in the world, thanks to a combination of spectacular beaches, bays and harbours, stupendous landscapes, and stunning spots from which to savour them. These are some of our favourites.
I recently shared a shot of sunrise at Angkor Wat on social media, inspiring some Facebook friends to share their sunrise and sunset images. Someone asked if sunrise at Angkor Wat was worth rising early for (yes!), while another lamented that her friends didn’t share her passion for those golden hours. What kind of person doesn’t love a sunrise or sunset?
I understand that not everyone enjoys rising in the darkness to get dressed and go somewhere to gawk at the daybreak, especially on holidays which for many of you means lots of sleep-ins. But who doesn’t love sitting down after a long day of sightseeing to savour a sunset of blazing red, orange and pink wash across the sky, especially with something cold in hand?
So, first in a new series of posts on sublime spots for sundowners, starting with the best sunsets in Australia, and, as usual on Grantourismo, this is not a comprehensive list, just a compilation of the most awe-inspiring sunsets in Australian that we’ve savoured. Feel free to share your own favourite sunset spots in Australia in the comments at the end.
Best Sunsets in Australia – Most Breathtaking Spots to Watch the Sun Go Down
For us, the best sunsets in Australia are undoubtedly in Western Australia as it’s the only state in Australia where you can watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean. After that it’s the Northern Territory for the dramatic landscapes – it’s hard to beat sunset over Uluru – and then the west-facing beaches of cities such as Adelaide and Melbourne.
While you may not be able to see the sun go down over the sea in the east coast states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, you can still get to sigh as it sinks over gorgeous harbours like Sydney’s or majestic mountain scenery such as that of the Blue Mountains. And you can still appreciate the pink and golden skies over the Pacific as the sun sets behind you.
Where to See the Best Sunsets in Western Australia
The best sunsets in Australia are undoubtedly on the west coast of the country as you get to gawk at the sun going down over the Indian Ocean. It’s a good thing we decided to be selective as Western Australia has 20,781 kms (12,913 miles) of coastline, including some 7,892 kms (4,904 miles) of island coast. Here are our top three spots for watching sunsets in Western Australia.
Cable Beach, Broome
The best sunsets in Australia are viewed from Broome’s Cable Beach and preferably from the back of a camel on Cable Beach’s sunset camel rides or from deck chairs set in front of your four-wheel drive vehicle so you have a cooler keeping close at hand keeping your white wine and beers cold. Take some nibbles and turn on some chilled music – on soft, so you don’t bother the other sunset gazers – and you’re all set to savour one of the best sunsets in Australia. If you’re not travelling on your own wheels and don’t have your own chairs, then spread out a beach towel up on the lawns or snag a table at the Sunset Bar and Grill.
Where to Stay in Broome for the Best Sunset Watching
Don’t even think about staying anywhere but Cable Beach Club opposite the pristine creamy sands, which has spacious bungalows in a style unique to Broome and the northern tropics, along with separate swimming pools for adults and kids, and an outstanding spa. (Our friends at Luxury Escapes also have a brilliant deal on for a Cable Beach Club stay, but the offer ends very soon!)
Cottlesloe Beach, Perth
The Western Australian capital, Perth, is not only home to some of Western Australia’s best beaches – which are arguably Australia’s finest stretches of sand – the city also boasts some of the best sunsets in Australia. While it’s hard to pick just one Perth sunset watching spot – as the beaches of Rottnest Island and Fremantle also offer fabulous sunset viewing spots, as does Kings Park – we’re going to go with Cottlesloe Beach as it’s only a stunner, but it has a high vantage point under the towering Norfolk pine trees where you can spread out a picnic blanket to take in the sea breezes and sweeping views. Across the road, the relaxed the Verandah Bar at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, is the spot to be for sundowners.
Where to Stay in Perth for the Best Sunset Watching
Book a comfy room with sea views at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, if you prefer to gaze at the sinking sun from the privacy of your own balcony. Dating to 1905, it’s a splendid property, with three bars and a restaurant. Cott & Co. is the most sophisticated (book a table for an early dinner if you’re staying in summer to enjoy the evening light) while The Beach Club and the Verandah Bar are more casual, and all offer sunset views. Some of Perth’s best boutique hotels also offer brilliant sunsets from their rooftop bars.
Perth’s historic beachside city of Fremantle might not boast the finest Western Australian beaches, but its still very pleasant stretches of sand make for fine spots from which to watch some of the best sunsets in Australia. Try the main city beach, Bathers Bay, beside the Fishing Boat Harbour, where you can pick up some fish and chips and craft beers. Near the mouth of the Swan River mouth beside Fremantle Harbour’s North Quay wharf, Port Beach has soft white sands for you to spread out a towel, but it can get windy. A local favourite, South Beach has a creamy sand beach where you can kick back or you can enjoy a sunset dinner in the park, which has picnic tables and community barbecues. During summer there’s a Saturday sunset market here.
Where to Stay in Fremantle for the Best Sunset Watching
Book a self-contained apartment with a balcony and sea views at harbourside Be. Fremantle and you’re set. The chic Hougoumont Hotel in the charming West End historic quarter may not have water rooms but within a few minute’s walk you’re at Bather’s Bay. Also close, opposite Esplanade Park, is The Esplanade Hotel in a remodelled historic pub. In a 19th century building, Daly View Bed & Breakfast is only a five minutes’ stroll to South Beach.
Smiths Beach, Margaret River
A few hours’ drive south of Perth, the beaches of the Margaret River region may be most renowned for their surfing, but they also boast some of the best sunsets in Australia. Our favourite sunset viewing spots overlook Smiths Beach and adjoining Yallingup Beach and Injidup Beach, the home of Western Australian surfing. The simple holiday houses in the sleepy hamlets above the creamy stretches of sand were long ago replaced by impressive architect-designed villas and sleek apartments with terraces from which you can gaze at the magic Indian Ocean sunsets. If you’re not staying in fancy lodgings, put together a picnic of local Margaret River wines, cheeses and charcuterie, and spread your beach towels out on the sand. If there’s a wind blowing, you should be able to find a sheltered spot on the stairs or above the beach from which to savour the setting sun.
Where to Stay in Margaret River for the Best Sunset Watching
Check into one of the stylish minimalist apartments or villas at Smiths Beach Resort, right opposite the beach. The resort has a pool, café, deli, and restaurant. At nearby Yallingup, historic Caves House Hotel has heritage suites that ooze history with fireplaces and plenty of old-world atmosphere, while next door, Seashells Resort Yallingup has spacious studios and apartments with decent kitchens and verandas. It’s just a short saunter along an easy walking trail to Yallingup Beach.
Where to See the Best Sunsets in the Northern Territory
The Northern Territory may only have half the coastline of Western Australia – still a whopping 10,953 kms (6,806 miles) – so fewer beaches from which to watch the sunset over the sea, but the stretches of sand it does have are stunners. In ‘the NT’, the best sunsets in Australia can also be enjoyed from gentle cruises on lush lagoons in Kakadu National Park and from designated sunset viewing spots overlooking the colossal ochre monolith of Uluru.
Mindil Beach, Darwin
Some of the best sunsets in Australia are in Darwin and there are a few magic spots to savour them from. Start with a spot on the creamy sands overlooking Fannie Bay from Mindil Beach, after you’ve feasted your way around Mindil Beach Markets (dry season only, May–October), a local ritual. Darwin’s residents take their Mindil Beach sunset viewing seriously, too, bringing fold-up chairs and eskies full of beer. While there’s lots of street food on offer at the markets, there’s no liquor, so we recommend you also BYO. Sipping something cold as you nibble on canapés while you watch the sun sink beneath the horizon from the deck of the Streeter, an historic pearl lugger, is also special – as is the sunset cruise on the Spirit of Darwin, which departs from Cullen Bay Marina. Although it’s hard to beat freshly shucked oysters washed down with a chilled white from Crustaceans at Stokes Hill Wharf.
Where to Stay in Darwin for the Best Sunset Watching
Settle into a stylish serviced apartment at the Oaks Elan Darwin, smack-bang in the centre, make a beeline for the supermarket for some Australian cheeses, olives and charcuterie and a crisp Aussie white, and you can watch the sunset over Darwin’s Fannie Bay from your own balcony. Alternatively, book a Harbour View Room at the Hilton Darwin, which has sweeping views over Darwin Harbour. Watch the sunset from the comfort of your own room or head down and spread out a picnic blanket on the manicured lawns on the Esplanade.
Pssst… Luxury Escapes has an offer (ending in 5 days) for 3 nights at the Hilton Darwin from AUD$449/US$319 (valued at AUD$1135/US$808) for two people per room including welcome drinks (beer, wine, spirits), daily breakfasts, late check-out, and a A$25 food/beverage credit. Check availability and book Hilton Darwin here.
Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
As you’d expect, some of the best sunsets in Australia can be gazed at from sunset viewing spots overlooking Uluru, the monumental red rock named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Uluru is one Australia’s most ancient and most sacred sites for the Aboriginal peoples who are the traditional owners of the land and you can sense its magic spirit, especially as you watch the sun go down. The fact that Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park has designated sunset watching spots says something about the quality of sunsets here in itself. Uluru is located in the heart of the arid Red Centre of Australia, around 460km southwest of Alice Springs, on the edge of the Western Desert region, and it’s a must-visit in Australia for its gobsmacking beauty as much as its spirit. Spend a few days and you’ll find yourself addicted to the sunsets, whether experiencing them on sunset wine and cheese tours and gourmet sunset barbecues or sunset camel rides. Or simply joining the convoy of vehicles early every evening making their way to viewing spots for a daily dose of awe.
Where to Stay at Uluru for the Best Sunset Watching
There’s an array of accommodation options at Uluru to suit every budget – from camping grounds and a hostel through to apartments, 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels and a luxury lodge. While all make great bases for nightly sunset viewing only the exclusive Longitude 131° offers Uluru sunset vistas from its luxurious suites, which have floor to ceiling glass offering gobsmacking Uluru views. If your budget doesn’t extend to such extravagance, then take consolation in the fact that there are so many other opportunities for savouring the Uluru sunsets.
Where to See the Best Sunsets in South Australia
With so many west-facing beaches on its remote peninsulas to an abundance of dramatic landscapes, South Australia easily boasts some of the best sunsets in Australia. You could try the ruggedly beautiful Flinders Ranges, where you can watch the sun go down from the hilltop at Rawnsley Park Station at Wilpena Pound or the scorched orange hills of the Breakaways, some 30 kilometres north of the Outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy, yet some of our most memorable sunset watching has been in the capital.
Glenelg Beach, Adelaide
The lucky residents of South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, get to see some of the best sunsets in Australia nearly every day from their many gorgeous west-facing stretches of sand. But if we had to pick one, it would be Glenelg for its long wide beach and pier, from where we’ve witnessed spectacular sunsets. While we’ve been quite content watching from the sand, if you prefer to savour the experience with a cocktail in hand, the Sunset Bar has million-dollar views of the ocean and marina. If you’re staying in the city centre, you can catch the tram to Glenelg’s Moseley Square, from where you’ll see the pier. Brighton Beach and Henley Beach, where I spent some of my childhood, also offer spectacular sunsets.
Where to Stay in Glenelg for the Best Sunset Watching
Right on Glenelg beach, the modern Oaks Plaza Pier offers unbeatable sunset watching opportunities from its beachfront apartments with balconies and sea views. We loved the light-filled Seawall Apartments when we stayed a few years ago to write up a guidebook. Book one of the seafront apartments for ocean views, however, there’s also a lovely picnic table out front and lots of lawn under the pine trees to sprawl out on. For hotel facilities, book one of the plush rooms with sea views at The Stamford Grand Hotel.
Where to See the Best Sunsets in Victoria
Victoria may not have as many west-facing beaches, but those it does offer some of the best sunsets in Australia, from Melbourne’s city beaches at St Kilda and Brighton with its colourful bathing boxes to breathtaking sunset-watching spots on the Mornington Peninsula at Frankston and Mount Martha. On the other side of Port Phillip Bay, in the Geelong Bellarine region, Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff and Portarlington get spectacular sunsets, with the Portarlington pier serving as the finishing line for the Bellarine Sunset Run, a half marathon along a scenic coastal trail.
For more magnificent sunsets, try the cliff-top viewpoints overlooking the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, and the charming holiday town of Port Fairy. Inland, we love the sunsets of the Grampians, a majestic, rugged mountain range of craggy peaks. The summit at Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, which has panoramic vistas over historic Daylesford and surrounding hills, also has heavenly sunsets. In nearby Ballarat, lovely Lake Wendouree is a romantic location for a sunset stroll or picnic.
St Kilda Beach, Melbourne
Melbourne’s St Kilda Beach boasts some of the best sunsets in Australia over Port Phillip Bay, best appreciated from the creamy soft sand, the foreshore lawns or historic St Kilda Pier. A sunset stroll along the pier to see the sun go down is something of a ritual for locals lucky enough to live in the laidback beachside suburb. It has also become a must-do experience for tourists, who are also there to see the post-dusk parade of little penguins. If sunsets for you mean sundowners then there are a few choices: sink into a deck chair on the sand at West St Kilda’s West Beach Bathers Pavilion (happy ‘hour’ from 4-7pm) or make a beeline to St Kilda Sea Baths where you can slip back into a swing seat overlooking the sea at the casual beachside bar at Republica (5-6pm weeknight happy hour).
Where to Stay in St Kilda for the Best Sunset Watching
St Kilda’s most stylish boutique hotel, The Prince has pretty pastel-toned retro-chic rooms. While it may not have beach vistas, it’s just a few minutes’ stroll down to the sand. The smart-looking Brooke – Beyond a Room Private Apartments have some ‘sea view’ apartments with glimpses through the palm trees of the bay from their balconies, but it’s just a 5-minute amble to the beach. The Novotel St Kilda’s Bay View rooms look over the water (and over a busy road) but there are no balconies and you’ll need to request a high-floor room.
So which do you think are the best sunsets in Australia? This is just a taste of our picks of the best Australian sunsets.
Image courtesy of Luxury Escapes.