Brazil

During my travels, I’ve seen some outstanding sunsets – each of them was different, special in a way, and has been captured in my memory ever since. Going through my pictures, I started wondering – What makes Phuket have those beautiful sunsets? And why is Africa supposed to have the best ones Worldwide? In fact, what makes the color of a sunset?

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Sunlight is composed of a spectrum of colors that range from blue/violet to orange/red. Each of the colors have a different wavelength – I don’t want to get too geeky, it’s probably easier if you picture a rainbow. The inner colours of the rainbow are violet and blue (which have the shortest wavelength); while the outer ones are orange and red, the colours with the longest wavelength.

At noon, the sun appears to be white because all wavelengths of visual light reach our eyes with almost the same intensity (remember that Pink Floyd album cover -The Dark Side of the Moon? That’s what I mean!). However, at sunrise and sunset, sunlight takes a much longer path through the atmosphere. Because air molecules scatter away the shortest wavelengths of light, the light that reaches our eyes is rather orange / red.

Sunset in Phuket, Thailand

All good – But what makes sunsets in some parts of the World more beautiful than in others?

What determines actually the kind of sunset is the size and concentration of atmospheric particles in the path of the incoming sunlight. Very small particles scatter blue and violet light preferentially, leading to a glowing orange and red sunset. A heavy concentration of small particles will create even redder sunsets.

Does that mean that if we’re somewhere with high air pollution, we’ll get to see a better sunset?

No. Pollution particles are too large, so instead of enhancing the colors of the sky, they subdue them. This is also the reason for which sunsets in deserts and the tropics are more dramatic – the air pollution is rather minimal or non-existent!

Sunset in Phuket, Thailand

Taking away pollution, there are many other smaller particles that can be floating in the air to create the perfect glowing reddish sunset, such as salt particles over the ocean, or dust and ash from a volcanic eruption.

Where have you captured your favorite sunset?

Fernando de Noronha is Brazil’s best kept secret. Still pure and simple, with little touristic influence, this archipelago has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Center back in 2001 and it’s described as the most beautiful marine park in the World. To avoid the masses, the Government limits the number of visitors to 460 at one time, which together with the 3.500 locals living there permanently, makes it really cozy. Additionally, visitors have to pay an Environmental Preservation Tax that increases progressively with the length of the visit – so the average time people stay is 3-5 days.

I visited the archipelago for 5 days about 3 years (although I wish it had stayed longer!). The highlight of the the trip – besides for the breathtaking beaches and colourful sunsets – was its underwater world.

A couple of years ago, we obtained our Scuba Diving license and, since then, attempt to dive in each of our travel destinations. It’s a lovely way to experience the place from a completely different angle!

Diving with sea turtles in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

… Dive with sea turtles in a strong current…

Diving in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

… See colorful fish and exotic rock formations …

Scuba diving in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

… And meet a friendly shark! Well, he kind of looked friendly – but I didn’t want to check out. Instead, I swam towards a group of large fish I had spotted from far away until they all turned to me and I realised they were barracudas.

Maybe the shark was a better idea after all.

Which is your favourite place to go scuba diving?