Photo Essay: Chasing Florida Beach Sunsets

Sunset over Indian River - Jupiter, FL

“There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”
– from the film “Wild”

There’s one thing I try not to miss whenever I’m at the beach: the sunset. Beach days are, for me, usually just that — days. I wake up early, make the trip, and reluctantly leave at the day’s end. But I can always justify staying an extra 20 minutes for that feeling of peace and calm I get watching the sun dip down below the horizon.

A sunset sail on Anna Maria Island, FL
Anna Maria Island sunset sail
Beach sunsets on Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key, FL
Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key, FL

Sunsets (and occasionally sunrises, although I much prefer sleeping in) are one of my favorite things about visiting the beach. Like having an ice cream cone, watching the sunset at the end of the day is one of those things that, if missed, makes a beach trip feel somehow incomplete.

Sunset view from Tide Tables Restaurant - Anna Maria Island, FL
The sunset view from Tide Tables restaurant, Anna Maria Island

Some sunsets are surprising. A cloudless day can culminate in a gorgeous display of yellows, oranges and blues. Or you can be driving along the road, heading out for some ice cream, only to have to pull over at the sight of something so unexpectedly beautiful.

Sunset over Indian River - Jupiter, FL
Sunset over Indian River – Jupiter, FL

As a photographer, I also always feel this tension between wanting to be in the moment and wanting to capture the moment. Observing others mindlessly snapping photos on their phones instead of just enjoying the view is a constant reminder of that feeling. While my need to capture things usually wins out, sometimes there’s nothing better than soaking up a sunset without digital distractions of any kind.

Dunedin Causeway and Siesta Key Sunsets
Left: Dunedin Causeway, Right: Sunset moscow mules on Siesta Key

So, where’s the best spot? I’ll probably never make it to every beach in the state and as it stands have still only visited a handful, but I can’t help always returning to Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island, FL Winter sunset
Anna Maria Island, FL winter sunset

The sunsets are almost always wonderful and can vary so much from one day to the next. It’s a view I certainly never get tired of, and likely never will.

Where’s your favorite spot to watch the sunset?

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