Sunrise at Cape Spear: Bright-eyed and bushy-tailedness be damned

I’m not exactly what you’d call a morning person.

Wait. Who are we kidding? As a lifelong night owl, this pretty much sums me up after waking too early in the wee hours:


…and that’s on a good day

Growing up, my poor dad was tasked with dragging my grumpy arse out of bed every morning and getting me to the breakfast table before school. No small feat, lemme tell you. Without fail, getting a rise out of me took multiple trips upstairs, taking his life in his hands each time.


Then there was my sister. All giddy and gay, skipping down the stairs each day, greeting everyone with a cheery “good morning” before tucking into whatever dad had whipped up, served with a steady side of death glares from my end of the table.

Needless to say, I haven’t been witness to many sunrises.

But there are times that being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed is over-rated. Having the chance to watch the day begin at Cape Spear is one of them.


You see, as the easternmost point in the North America, the sun rises first here. And who doesn’t like being first? There’s a reason Newfoundland has its own time zone, after all. We’re always ahead.

After bumbling around in the dark to get ready, Cape Spear is only about a 15 minute drive from downtown St. John’s, as long as you and the moose steer clear of each other. Although they’re big, they’re also fast — which I am not at this hour — and you never really know when they might pop out of the bushes to make an appearance in front of you on the road. So just try and avoid them. They always win.

Morris The Moose

Arse on dat!

While you many not be the only person who’s had the idea to take in the show from these rugged cliffs, Cape Spear isn’t ever going to feel crowded. Here you can stand with your back to the rest of the continent. The next thing east is Ireland.

CapeSpear from Signal Hill

Looking across to Cape Spear from Signal Hill.

It’s a dramatic and striking span of rugged coast. Lying before two lighthouses, with ocean on three sides, there’s nothing but horizon stretching out in front of you, waves crashing against the shore and more often than not, wind whipping around you. At least in the summer it’s warm. But when Mother Nature’s in a bad mood, you’re gonna feel her wrath out here more than most places.


Cliffs. Lots of cliffs.


Love me a lighthouse. This is the original.

Cape Spear Lighthouse 2

…and this is the newer house with the operating light.

At the right time of year, it’s also a prime location for passing icebergs and playful humpbacks — this is smack in the middle of Mutt and Jeff’s stomping grounds.

As someone who has four sound machine apps on their phone and snoozes every night to the sound of waves, everything about the scene, coupled with the fresh, salty air, is enough to lull me back to sleep, but before long, the show gets underway. Things start to lighten off in the distance, with hues of pink and purple breaking up deep blue that’s carpeted the sky around us.


The show begins

It’s then that those first trickles of orange light start to paint the sky like brush strokes. As that bounces off the clouds, a glow rises from where the sky meets the sea: the pink star of the show has arrived.


The massive Oceanex Connaigra for scale.

The light at this hour is unlike anything I’ve experienced. Everything is aglow and awash in warm pastels. It’s a dream scene for an impressionist artist and an incredible sight to behold. For the most part, it’s yours alone. You know this is more than a mental picture that won’t leave you any time soon; it’s been an experience you’ll carry with you.

Beams of sunrise

Love how this little vessel lined up


Postcard worthy

Needless to say, I’m not thinking about the time. This show is more than worth what it’s cost me in sleep.


Bushy-haired & bleary-eyed…crooked glasses & all.

2 replies
  1. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Holly, you are my hero for taking me here to witness my first sunrise….and oh what a sunrise it was! Definitely a memory I will always treasure xoxo

  2. Holly
    Holly says:

    It was quite a morning! So glad we struck on such a beauty of a sunrise. And bonus….getting to the Bagel Cafe before it even opened and having it all to ourselves. Arriving before a 7 a.m. opening? Another first for me :)


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