cape spear newfoundland sunrise

Cape Spear Sunrise: An Unforgettable Newfoundland Experience

Seeing a Cape Spear sunrise is an unforgettable Newfoundland experience and should be part of your Canadian bucket list. The first sunrise in North America, watching the sunrise at Cape Spear is a unique experience. While not easy to wake up so early, especially not being a morning person, it is worth it. 

Feel the peacefulness in the quiet of the morning that the magical sunrise at Cape Spear brings. Wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket, sip on a hot beverage, and watch the sky light up in vibrant colours as the sun says hello. Depending on the time of year, it can be possible to enhance your experience and see icebergs float by or whales swim by while standing at the cliff edge.

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site was my first sunrise experience, and I was happy with how it turned out. The colours were vibrant, the scenery was breathtaking, and the best part was that we mostly had the area to ourselves. When planning your Newfoundland itinerary, add seeing the sunrise at Cape Spear to the top of the list.


Where is the First Place the Sun Rises in Canada?

The first place the sun rises in Canada is the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, along the eastern coast of Newfoundland. Specifically, the sun rises first in Canada at Cape Spear, NL. 

cape spear lighthouse national historic site

What is Cape Spear Known For?

Cape Spear is known for two things: its iconic lighthouse and its geographic location. It is most famous for being the most eastern point of North America, and because of this, it experiences the first sunrise on the entire continent. The lighthouse at Cape Spear is the oldest in Newfoundland, constructed in 1836 and features a unique architectural style. 


Where Can I See the Sun Rise in Newfoundland? 

While Cape Spear is famous for its sunrises, here are other scenic places in Newfoundland to watch the sunrise: 

  • Signal Hill, St.John’s
  • Topsail Beach, Conception Bay South
  • Cook’s Lookout, Placentia Bay 
  • Chamber’s Cove
cape spear newfoundland stairs

Sunrise Time at Cape Spear 

Depending on the time of year, the sunrise time at Cape Spear is between 5:30 am and 8 am.  In September, the sunrise happened around 6:45 am. Make sure to look up the sunrise time before you go to ensure you don’t miss it. 

You will want to be there about an hour before sunrise time to see the light come over the horizon before the sun peeks out. During my visit, I missed watching part of the colours come over the horizon but got there in time to see the sun peak above the clouds, which is the best part. 


Watching the Sunrise

After the early wake-up call, I hopped in my car and drove to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. When I arrived, there was slight light in the sky, but the sun hadn’t peaked over the horizon yet. Everyone was starting to leave: twenty people wrapped up in their blankets were walking back to their cars. I raced up the wooden stairs and waited by the lighthouse for the sunrise. 


Maybe 10-15 minutes later, there it was! The beautiful sun peaked over the horizon and clouds. Cotton candy colours filled the sky and it was incredible. My first sunrise! I walked around the lighthouse area and soaked it all in for a while. After watching the sunrise at Cape Spear, I headed back to St.John’s for breakfast before driving the Irish Loop. 


St.John’s to Cape Spear: Directions

You will need to drive to get to Cape Spear. It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive from St.John’s.

Here are driving directions from downtown St.John’s to Cape Spear Lighthouse: 

  • Drive on Queen Street towards New Gower Street
  • Turn Right onto Hamilton Avenue
  • Turn Left onto Patrick Street
  • Turn Right onto Water Street
  • Turn Left onto Black Head Road 
  • Drive 14.1 km along Black Head Road until you reach the end of the road

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

Address: Blackhead Road, Cape Spear, St. John’s, NL A1C 5H2

cape spear parking

Cape Spear Parking 

There is parking available at Cape Spear National Historic Site. At the end of Blackhead Road, there is a good-sized parking lot. Take the wooden staircase from the parking lot to the lighthouse and lookout point. Parking is included in your entry fee to the historic site.

Cape Spear Map 

Here is a map of the Cape Spear Lighthouse area:

Tips for Watching the Sunrise at Cape Spear 

  • Go earlier than you think you need to. When planning my departure time around sunrise time, I didn’t realize you have to be there well before that as there will already be light in the sky, but luckily I made it for the sun’s first peak over the clouds.
  • Be cautious while driving in the dark, and watch out for wildlife. There are moose in the area, and they tend to be most active at dusk and dawn. 
  • Dress in layers and bring a blanket. It is chilly at night and windy from being close to the ocean, and most of your time there will be in the dark. Dress warmly.

I hope this information helps you plan to watch the sunrise at Cape Spear in Newfoundland.

Happy travelling!

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