As the sun sinks toward the sea, the western horizon ignites in glowing hues of orange and pink. Yet another magnificent Florida sunset is underway, bringing awe-inspiring visions no matter where you are in the state. In Key West, watching the sunset from the Mallory Square waterfront remains a popular tradition, drawing residents and visitors alike to witness nature’s nightly magic lantern show. But there are also quieter places nearby such as this strip of sand on aptly-named Sunset Key where one can enjoy the day’s ending with a bit of solitude. Photo: iStock
The Florida shoreline is the only area in the eastern United States where you can watch the sun set over water. In this case, the Gulf of Mexico. This nightly show brings out the crowds at beach towns from Fort Myers and Sanibel on north to the Florida panhandle. Favorite gathering places include beachside bars, hotel terraces and the numerous piers that jut into the Gulf, where one can walk out over the water for panoramic tapestries of sky and sea in the moments before the orb dips beneath the horizon. Photo: Eric Foltz/iStock
Watching the sun drop below the horizon line of the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect punctuation to a day spent on the water. All-day fishing charters based in Clearwater Beach return to the marina around sunset, giving spent anglers time to crack open a cold one as the entire sky and Gulf glow orange to mark the end of the voyage. Restaurants in the beachside city will cook your catch so you can continue relaxing until it’s time to eat the fish you pulled out of the water. Photo: Ricardo Reitmeyer/iStock
Nowhere is Florida’s sky bigger and wilder than in the Everglades National Park, which covers much of the southern quarter of the state. Here massive clouds reflect the sun’s last rays and stretch the pink hues from one horizon to the other. You don’t have to go trekking through the swamp to see the area’s infamous alligators and myriad bird species, many of which are active at sunset. Even along Main Park Road, the only road leading into the eastern part of the 2,400-square- mile park, can visitors catch glimpses of the wildlife and stunning views of the area’s natural beauty. Photo: iStock
The Florida Keys are home to some of the Sunshine State’s most spectacular sunsets. From certain vantage points on Bahia Honda Key (home to the largest of the few natural beaches on the island chain and a popular spot for snorkelers), the sinking sun drops right through the gap in the historic rail bridge, silhouetting the structure’s steel trusses and the azure bayside waters. The bridge was part of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad in the early 20th century – the first time Key West and the rest of the island chain became accessible to anything but boat traffic. Photo: iStock
One of the most popular ways to catch daylight’s finale is aboard a sunset sail. Sip a glass of wine and drift with the wind on charters that leave from nearly every Gulf Coast city, from Pensacola in the northwest corner of the state all the way down to Key West. Sunset gazers watch for the legendary green flash, the rare phenomenon where the last light from the sun appears to change from yellow to green for one or two seconds, creating what, to the human eye, looks like a sudden flash of green across the horizon. Photo: iStock
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