At the summit of Mt. Apo. Photograph by Victor Ayson
Travel Destinations

Eight great spots in the Philippines to see 2019's first sunrise

Sunrise is associated with renewal, optimism, and new beginnings. Here are a few choice spots to watch the first light of the New Year.
Gideon Lasco | Dec 29 2018

The burden of our everyday lives sometimes makes us forget that we are part of a vast universe, and that celestial bodies too, go about their business, albeit with more elegance and precision than we can ever hope to achieve. The coming of a new year is one movement we recognize and look forward to. It is, after all, the earth marking one full circle around the sun.

For many cultures, the first sunrise of each year is invested with special significance. In Japan, the act of witnessing the year’s first sunrise is known as hatsuhinode and is accompanied with the promise of a wish fulfilled. In India, various articles have celebrated the places where the new year's first light can be viewed.

Across the world, the sunrise is associated with renewal, optimism, and new beginnings. That’s why there are those who make an occasion of witnessing the first sunrise of the year. If you want to make the first day of 2019 a celebration way after the fireworks have disappeared, here are some great spots to witness the sunrise.


Batanes (6:28 AM)

With stunning seascapes, Batanes offers various spots to see the sunrise. In the main island of Batan, Diura port to Valugan beach are photographers’ favorites; one can also walk up the Rolling Hills or even hike up Mt. Matarem in Ivana to start the year not just with a beautiful view but with a nice workout. Meanwhile if you find yourself in Sabtang, the east-facing coast of Chavayan likewise makes for a great spot to watch the coming of the dawn.


The Cordilleras (6:25 AM)

Spending the New Year up the mountains can be a magical experience, with the sight of distant fireworks and one’s solitude setting the backdrop for contemplating the year ahead. Another bonus would be the opportunity to catch a majestic sunrise—if you’re lucky—above the sea of clouds. Mt. Pulag and Mt. Ulap would be the most popular choices, but there are lesser-known yet no less exciting spots like Mt. Amuyao in Barlig, Mountain Province; Mt. Ugo at the border of Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya and Itogon, Benguet; and Mt. Napulauan in Hungduan, Ifugao.


Baler (6:21 AM)

Facing the Pacific Ocean, the beaches of Baler offer visitors a great venue on which to witness the new year’s first light. Because the entire city is oriented towards the east, any of the seaside spots can be great—Sabang beach for instance—but one can also go to Diguisit Rock Formations or Dicasalarin Cove for some interesting backdrop.


The mountains of Rizal (6:20 AM)

If you’re staying in Metro Manila and the Cordilleras are too far, you can also opt for an early morning hike on January 1 to see the sunrise on the mountains of Rizal province. Set in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, many of these mountains have great rock formations, and because of the micro-climactic conditions there's also the chance of seeing a sea of clouds atop some of their peaks. Popular choices include Mts. Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi in Rodriguez, Mt. Maynoba in Tanay.

Click on the image below for slideshow

Mt. Amuyao@jbidek on Instagram

Mt. Amuyao@adventurerong.bankero on Instagram

Baganga Beach@sijanlloyd on Instagram

Batan Island@ninjascarleg on Instagram

Batan Island@vivmeester on Instagram

Cape San Agustin@jnasview on Instagram

Cape San Agustin@kirstenluxous on Instagram

Cloud 9 in Siargao@paulkendrickk on Instagram

Cloud 9 in Siargao@kierinyourcare on Instagram

Dahican Beach@tincantravel on Instagram

Dahican Beach@charymalintad on Instagram

Dicasalarin Beach@augustraj_ on Instagram

Dicasalarin Beach@sheenergy_ on Instagram

Diguisit Beach@gene_011100 on Instagram

Diura@nol.ig.abilo on Instagram

Magasang@wanderboypalaboy on Instagram

Magsapad rock formation@onlymayochea on Instagram

Mt. Matarem@i_padua on Instagram

Mt. Matarem@aleth.meora on Instagram

Mt. Napulauan@spikes101 on Instagram

Mt. Pamitinan@mycadcm on Instagram

Mt. Pulag@nel.sars on Instagram

Pusan Point@syeeela_88 on Instagram

Sabtang@ngpi29 on Instagram

Mt. Ugo@raysalt on Instagram

Valugan Beach@tiyopaopao on Instagram


Biri island (6:04 AM) 

An island off the coast of Northern Samar best known for its otherworldly crags and boulders, Biri Island is another wonderful place to welcome the new year. There are various spots to choose from —for instance, the rock formations in Magasang, Magsapad, and Bel-at. If opting for the third, one can end the sunrise viewing with a dip at the nearby pool which should make for a truly refreshing start for the year ahead.


Siargao (5:52 AM)

Yet another island in the country's eastern seaboard, Siargao’s association with surfing obscures the fact that it is an amazing destination even for non-surfers, with plenty to see and do - from snorkeling to island hopping to fishing and trekking. Sunrise viewing is also a rewarding experience in the island with uninterrupted views of the ocean. Practically any spot along the island’s eastern beaches will do, including the famous boardwalk at Cloud 9.


Mt. Apo (5:50 AM)

The country’s highest peak, Mt. Apo in Southern Mindanao, offers a perfect adventure, with the entire hike typically taking three days. Those fortunate to reach the summit on New Year’s Day will be treated to a light show as the sun rises, illuminating the mountains of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. Aside from the rising sun, one can view much of Mindanao from this unique vantage point.


The beaches of Davao Oriental (5:46 AM)

The easternmost province in the country, Davao Oriental, is a spot where one can view 2019’s first sunrise the earliest. Technically, the distinction belongs to Pusan Point in Cateel, but most of the beaches in the province offers great sunrise viewing—from the beaches of Cateel and Baganga to the Dahican Beach, Mati. Another scenic possibility is Cape San Agustin in Governor Generoso with its historic lighthouse and pink sand beach.

Aside from the eight destinations we’ve listed down, pretty much any east-facing beach, mountain, or even a skyscraper viewdeck can offer good a good sunrise view—weather permitting, of course. Wherever you find yourself this New Year, may the coming of the first rays of the sun be an auspicious sign for 12 months of success, good health, love, and adventure. As Bernard Williams once said: “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”