Monday, April 15, 2013


Sunset at Pine Island Beach - Spring Hill, Florida
by Marie C. Dimino

Watching a Sunset is a Perfect Way to End an Evening.  It Cleanses the Soul and is Soothing to the Mind and Heart

Pine Island Beach (also known as Alfred McKethan Park) is a three-acre area on the Gulf of Mexico located at 10800 Pine Island Drive (off County Road 495 west of Weeki Wachee), Spring Hill, Florida, Hernando County.

Known for its peaceful, laid-back atmosphere, it has a quaint, remote, country-like setting. Locals and tourists alike flock here to escape the loud and boisterous crowds of the larger beaches in Florida. The beach is clean, the sand is white, and the water is gentle and crystal clear. The waves are not huge and shallow depths make swimming and wading ideal for all ages. There are several sheltered, open pavilions with tables and benches, picnic areas with grills, volleyball courts, a playground, and restrooms. A wooden platform with an observation point to view the ocean and sunset extends across the sand. There is also a concession stand which offers a variety of foods, drinks and snacks. Parking is $5.00 per car.

The last five miles of the drive to Pine Island Beach is lined with palm trees, wetlands, and stilt homes. There is water on both sides. Countless wading birds, shorebirds and waterfowl can be seen, along with resident songbirds, woodpeckers and raptors, in a tropical setting of exotic wildlife and mango groves. These waters boast unparalleled fishing. On this beautiful, sunny drive, wildlife is often spotted. Deer, alligators, turtles and other animals will sometimes cross the road.

Also known for its sensational sunsets, people gather here in the early evenings to experience the sun setting in the evening skies. Many take photographs and others come just to relax and enjoy the evening. In early spring local prom goers flock here for the scenic views. The young couples can be seen everywhere with their families taking photos of them. It is also a popular wedding destination beach where beautiful brides, their wedding party and guests, enjoy the natural backdrop of the Gulf Coast views.

Hundreds of seagulls gather together in the evening hours. They can be seen flying across the open skies and settling down on the ocean’s shore. Their cries to each other are like a song of praise, the music of dusk that celebrates their joy and freedom. The calls can be heard from several miles away.

The Making of a Sunset

As the sun sets, light travels through the atmosphere and molecules scatter blue and violet lights by refracting off the surface of the water. Since these lights go further than the eye can see, pink, orange and red hues appear. When the air has more dust or water, small particles reflect light in all directions which results in more reds and yellows and fewer pinks. Beautiful warm tones are cast across the horizon.

When the air is clean and dry, the horizon stays blue and the sun will be bright orange. Often during this type of sunset, a flash of green will appear for a brief second if the sun suddenly changes color.

On a cloudy evening, openings in the clouds allow light to come through and refract off the moisture, resulting in spectacular images. Sometimes the best light is seen five to twenty minutes after the sun sets when the light catches the edge of the horizon.

Civil Twilight

When the sun is no more than six degrees below the horizon, it is known as a civil twilight. This is the brightest phase of twilight. Under good weather conditions, terrestrial objects can be clearly distinguished. In the absence of moonlight, some of the brightest stars and the planet Venus can be visible. During this twilight, the colors will change quickly. Sunset colors are frequently replaced with an entire new set of colors across the sky. As the temperature cools down, the colors cool down.

Nautical Twilight

The period of time when the sun is between six and twelve degrees below the horizon is known as a nautical twilight. You can still discern the shape of objects, but not their details. This is when the last light disappears from the sky.

Astronomical Twilight

The astronomical twilight is darker and happens when the center of the sun is eighteen degrees below the horizon. Astronomers are most interested in this time of the evening. There is no color in the sky. After eighteen degrees, it is considered night.

The Artist’s Way

Artists, photographers and poets have been drawn to sunsets since the beginning of time. The open sky is a canvas filled with varying shades of splendid blue and puffs of billowy, fluffy, soft, white clouds. The evening at dusk can be poetically described as hues of tangerine orange, glistening golds and crimson reds with a hint of smokey silver, peach and lavender. This natural palette spreads itself across the twilight skies crowning the heavens in all its glory. It is what music and art has been created from throughout the centuries. Many artists have captured its magnificence, and no two paintings are ever alike. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the ever-changing sky leaves an artist alone in the playground of their own imagination.

Meditate on a Sunset

Watching and meditating on a sunset can bring your mind into an alpha state. It is like when you are captivated into a good book and lose track of what is happening around you. It is easy to slip into a theta state, which is a deep relaxation of the mind and soul. Theta is where ideas, visualizations and suggestion are more likely to enter the subconscious mind and consciously we become less aware of what is going on around us. It is in this state that we can connect with our higher selves. The sound of gentle waves swishing across the coastline is a natural sedative and very soothing. 

Sometimes a sunset can make you feel sad, as it represents the end of a wonderful day. It can also make you feel happy, with the promise and hopes of a new tomorrow bringing a brighter future. It can enhance the romance between a couple in love, and create wonder in the heart of a small child.

There are many reasons and many ways to experience a sunset. The only wrong way is to not experience it for yourself!

Nature is free and available to all who take the time to enjoy it. Give yourself a gift tonight and watch the sun set over the beautiful horizon. You will experience firsthand knowledge of the many states, emotions and sensations a sunset brings and will be able to say, "I know the feeling!" and want to share it with others.

Pine Island Beach
10800 Pine Island Drive
Spring Hill, Florida 34607

(article first seen and written for SpringHillNow


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For sunrise and sunset times for the Gulf Coast, please see:,_Pine_Island,_Florida.aspx