Postcards & Passports

As the Sun Sets on California

This post was most recently updated on January 20th, 2022

As the sun sets each evening, our eyes are drawn to that beautiful ball of orange as it drops beyond the horizon, painting rays of pink and red across the sky. Time seems to stand still for just a moment. A reverent moment. We often feel inadequate as we try to re-create the image. But for some reason, we keep trying. Sunsets stir something within us. Each is unique. Each is a gift…a breath-taking finale to the day.

I once traveled to the island of Santorini in Greece, where I was told I would view the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen. They were beautiful, but not any more than those I’d already seen on the beaches near my home in San Diego, California.

As the Sun Sets on California

Pacific Beach sunset, photo credit: Tami Wilcox

Trying to capture a great sunset photo can be a challenge. I recently visited Windansea Beach in La Jolla. My objective: to enjoy a fun date with my husband and view a perfect sunset. The waves were spectacular, and there were plenty other onlookers as we all waited for that moment when the sun drops into the ocean. It was a challenge to keep my lens clear of salt spray. Each moment, the colors and intensity change. The light reflects off different surfaces. There just isn’t one perfect scene, because each is exquisite.

One evening, my family and I were returning from a trip to the Cabrillo lighthouse when we decided to stop to walk around the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. It was eerily peaceful and the setting sun just added to that feeling. A fitting resting place for our heroes.

As the Sun Sets on California

Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, photo credit: Tami Wilcox

Sometimes a sunset invites a feeling of joy…

As the Sun Sets on California

Jumping for Joy, Dana Point sunset, photo credit: Heather Young

Or a feeling of closeness…

As the Sun Sets on California

Pacific Beach sunset, photo credit: Heather Young

I’ve invited fellow travel bloggers/photographers to share their captured sunsets and stories too. Because I can’t be everywhere in California when the sun sets…

Billie Frank

Santa Fe Travelers

As the Sun Sets on California

Carmel Sunset, photo credit: Steve Collins/Santa Fe Travelers

One of the things we really miss living in the high desert is the ocean. We’re almost a thousand miles from the nearest one. When we travel to the west coast we overdose on those magnificent Pacific sunsets. It was Easter Sunday and we were spending the night in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (aka Carmel) famous home to Clint Eastwood as well as a thriving and picturesque art community. Just before sunset we headed to the beach called by an internal homing device. We arrived shortly before the nightly show. Apparently, we’re not the only peole who love beach sunsets; the sand was crowded with other like-minded people. The mood of the waiting crowd was festive. Kids ran about and tossed Frisbees. Some had brought chairs so they could sit and enjoy the show, others like us stood. We all had one thing in common: waiting in anticipation for the sun to set. As the sun sunk into the ocean, we captured the sight with our camera. Show over, the crowd dispersed, each going back to real life. It was a spectacular end to our day.

Kirstie Jeffries

Venga, Vale, Vamos

As the Sun Sets on California

Parker Sunset, photo credit: Kirstie Jeffries

For years, my dad, sister, best friend, and I have had an annual tradition of going to the Colorado River for a few days of boating, waterskiing, and enjoying the hot desert sun. The trip is always one of the highlights of the year, but, sadly, we haven’t been able to coordinate a trip there since 2012. (Good news! We’re going back this year!) The last time we were there, our time at the river ended with one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. It started out breathtaking and only became more and more vibrant and unbelievable as the sun continued to set. This part of the Colorado River defines the boundary between Arizona and California, and this shot is looking out over the California side of the river. I’ve traveled all over the world, but this unassuming spot on the Arizona/California border may just be my favorite place in the world, and I can’t wait to return!

Charles McCool

McCool Travel

As the Sun Sets on California

Santa Barbara Sunset, photo credit: Charles McCool

On this particular visit to to Santa Barbara, I was disappointed that the sky was not clear. However, the clouds help create some interesting patterns and vivid colors.

Charles McCool is a how-to travel expert, author, trainer, and blogger, and has been profiled in the World’s Smartest Traveler series. His road trip travels seeking epic ice cream and BBQ have taken him to all 50 states and several dozen countries. 

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Heather Young

As the Sun Sets on Californiai

La Jolla Shores sunset, photo credit: Heather Young

La Jolla Shores holds many memories for me and my family. This photo was taken the summer of 2010 when my brother-in-law came to visit San Diego for the first time. We enjoyed taking photos on the beach, and showing him what wonderful things San Diego has to offer! It was also the place where, one year later, my husband would propose to me. I love the beautiful beach, with its grassy park and sandy shores. There’s even a pier (owned by the nearby university) to which I have run many times, when I was needing clarity. La Jolla Shores has served many purposes in my life, whether it was a fun beach trip or a great family event!

Katrina Baumann

The Two Week Traveler

As the Sun Sets on California

Big Bear Sunset, photo credit: Katrina Baumann

My friend and I watched this sunset together at Big Bear Lake. We used to take 3 or 4 road trips together per year, but as we got older life happened and we hadn’t traveled together in 5 years. I was finally able to go out and visit her in April and we took a trip to Big Bear Lake. Watching this sunset together was so special. It had been such a long time since we had an adventure and sharing such a beautiful moment really strengthened our friendship and love of travel.

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I hope you have enjoyed this sunset photo gallery. Do you have a favorite sunset memory?


15 thoughts on “As the Sun Sets on California

    1. Tami Post author

      You’re right, Jessica. You can get the right combination of clouds, colors, and backdrops for a beautiful sunset in many places!

  1. Emma Hart

    What a lovely post 🙂 My favourite sunset that I’ve seen recently was the one I saw on the way back from Fraser Island. We were driving back on the beach and the sky was just glowing. We hopped out of the van for a bit and had the chance to just enjoy the moment – there’s something so special about sunsets.

  2. Revati

    What a great idea for a post! You hear about the california sun all the time, rarely about the sunsets! And what gorgeous sunsets those are!

  3. Francesca @onegrloneworld

    This was a great post idea! I absolutely love sunsets and I’m fortunate to also be a native of California, so I know exactly how you feel! California from North to South has some of the best sunsets on the planet! 🙂

  4. The Travel Sisters

    You are so right on the sunsets and San Diego thing! We visited family there for a week last summer. On our first night, we thought we really lucked out and caught the most beautiful sunset. To our surprise, the following night (and pretty much every night we were there) it was just as amazing!

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