Best Spots to Capture a Sunset on Cape AnnOctober 11, 2021 / Good to Know, Outdoor Adventures, Things to Do & See
Edited by Elizabeth Carey with permission from Addison Choate
A Few of Our Favorite Sunset Spots On Cape Ann, Massachusetts
If you are a photographer, you are probably well-aware that Cape Ann has some of the most beautiful sunsets in New England. From Rockport to Gloucester to Essex and Manchester, there are so many fantastic landscapes and such incredible lighting that it almost feels like “point and shoot” at times. Getting the perfect shot is all about timing and having a little bit of luck on your side as well. You only get ONE chance a day for that sunset capture, so make it count! We had fun with this topic and want to share our findings with you!
MOTIF #1, ROCKPORT
Perhaps an obvious choice, but we are going to kick things off with a tried and true subject matter in Rockport, Motif#1. This humble red fishing shack has been a symbol of the town of Rockport as well as a quintessential Cape Ann image for many years. Its position in the harbor, the contrast of its red paint, and its rustic presence make it the perfect photograph.
It’s no wonder that it has been drawing painters and photographers to the area for years to try and capture and put a unique spin on this Rockport landmark. The picture above was captured by Elizabeth Carey of Discover Gloucester.
ANNISQUAM LIGHTHOUSE, GLOUCESTER
Located at Wigwam Point at the northern end of Annisquam River, the Annisqaum lighthouse is a north shore treasure. The station was established in 1801 and the current lighthouse tower was built in 1897. It became automated in 1974. The brick tower stands 41 feet tall and utilizes a 5th Order Fresnel lens to guide mariners. The Annisquam lighthouse can be photographed from a couple of different locations, depending on the desired composition. The first, is from Wingaersheek Beach. Shooting from Wingaersheek will provide you a little bit more of a distant view of the lighthouse. The more popular shot of the lighthouse that you see more frequently is the close up shot. This is taken from a small private beach near the lighthouse. You will want to park on Walnut Street off of Route 127 and follow the hiking path down to the beach. If mother nature delivers, it’s sure to be a fantastic capture.
LOBSTER POOL RESTAURANT, ROCKPORT
Another excellent spot to capture a sunset on Cape Ann is the Lobster Pool Restaurant in Rockport. Located off the beaten path up past Halibut Point, the Lobster Pool will bring you back to childhood memories of eating seafood along the coast. Situated right on Ipswich Bay, the Lobster Pool is a classic, no-frills, New England seafood shack. There is outdoor seating right on the water where you can capture an incredible sunset. Of course, at the Lobster Pool, there is the nice ancillary benefit of some tasty treats. Enjoy a succulent lobster, meaty fried clams or piping hot clam chowder and wait for the sun to set from your westerly facing perch.
One thing to note: the Lobster Pool is BYOB so if you are in need of a couple fermented beverages to enjoy with your meal, you may want to stop off at Sea & Cellar or WhistleStop Market to pick up some provisions.
GOOD HARBOR BEACH, GLOUCESTER
Gloucester’s world-renowned beach recognized with an abundance of “best” awards is Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester. No matter the season, it’s always a good day to visit Good Harbor Beach. The soft sandy beach provides a beautiful landscape for your photograph. Plus there is also some fantastic subject matter right on the beach. On one end of the beach you have a beautiful bridge and a home perched upon the rocky shoreline that provides some interesting framing for that perfect shot. On the other side of the beach, you have Salt Island and the the twin lights of Thacher Island to provide some different points of interest.
When the tide is low and your adventurous spirit kicks in, you can walk out to Salt Island and get a completely different vantage point for your photo. Good Harbor is truly an enchanting spot to capture both sunrises AND sunsets on Cape Ann.
PLUM COVE BEACH, ROCKPORT
One of our favorite Essex County Hidden Gems has to be Plum Cove Beach. Just around the tip of Rockport before you reach the Annisquam Village, you’ll come upon this special hidden cove.
It is perfectly protected by bluffs on either side and has some grassy dunes as you enter. The westerly facing beach provides the ideal spot to capture a sunset overlooking Ipswich Bay. You’ll likely have to bide your time in this beautiful cove, to wait for the exact moment… Life on Cape Ann can be tough.
EASTERN POINT LIGHTHOUSE, GLOUCESTER
On the eastern tip of historic Gloucester Harbor you will find the, aptly named, Eastern Point Lighthouse. One of the six Cape Ann lighthouses, this one in particular is held near and dear to mand photographers’ hearts. The tower was originally planned in 1829 and ultimately erected by 1832, its first light shining on New Year’s Day. It was rebuilt in 1848 and 1890 and the current tower stands 36 feet high. The home, oil house and additional structures were all added between 1879 and 1951 and the lighthouse currently serves as housing for the US Coast Guard.
The Eastern Point Lighthouse is a favorite among photographers and even appeared in a painting by Winslow Homer! The lighthouse can be accessed from downtown Gloucester. Simply follow Eastern Point Ave down to the end where you will find a parking lot for visitors to the lighthouse.
NILES BEACH, GLOUCESTER
Just down the road from Eastern Point Lighthouse, you will discover this intimate town beach overlooking Gloucester Harbor. Niles Beach offers beachgoers a sandy beachhead, an opportunity to find some nice seaglass, and on a clear day, you can make out the Boston skyline from a distance! It’s also a great spot to capture a stunning sunset. The parking can be challenging (during peak tourism season) to those without a Gloucester beach sticker, but we encourage you to take the chance… It’s a peaceful destination and provides a delightful alternative to some of the larger, more popular beaches.
HALIBUT POINT, ROCKPORT
One of the most popular Rockport attractions is Halibut Point State Park. Formerly the Babson Farm quarry, Halibut Point is a 67-acre site that offers beautiful views of Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, the Isles of Shoals off of the New Hampshire Coast and even Mount Agamenticus in Maine. The granite at Halibut Point is said to be 440 million years old and the granite from the quarry was used to pave thousands of city streets including Boston and Philadelphia.
You hike all the way down to large rocks on the ocean and you can even bring your furry friends along with you, provided they are kept on a leash. The location of Halibut Point provides the perfect vantage point for a sunset photograph out over Ipswich Bay.
WINGAERSHEEK BEACH, GLOUCESTER
Last, but certainly not least, on our list of the best sunsets on Cape Ann is Wingaersheek Beach. Located in Gloucester, Wingaersheek is one of the most popular beaches on the north shore of Massachusetts. With soft sands, tidal pools that are teeming with sea life, plenty of rocks for climbing and some warmer waters than other area beaches, Wingaersheek is a fantastic place to spend a day. In the off-season, you will find local residents cruising the sands with their canine counterparts. With a beautiful landscape and lighthouse views, it’s a stunning location to capture a truly impressive Cape Ann sunset.
BEST SPOTS TO CAPTURE A SUNSET ON CAPE ANN
We hope that you enjoyed our list of Best Spots To Capture a Sunset on Cape Ann. We think that these are all magical locations for beautiful photography. Of course, this list is not exhaustive! There are many other incredible locations in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester for sunrises and sunsets, but we hope this list helps get you started. ENJOY!