Coastal Drives to Explore Worldwide
Every continent has amazing coastal road trips that can be boasted about and we have gathered together some of the favourite seaside drives from travel bloggers around the world.
Scenic drives by the ocean (and lakeside drives for two landlocked countries) have all been included. Some of these drives are well known and others are just as impressive but less famous. Each one has a story to tell and is unique.
The Amalfi Coast Drive
One of the most stunning drives in Italy has to be the Amalfi Coast, just south of Naples. The “Costiera Amalfitana” was listed as a Unesco Heritage Site in 1997 and is located on the south side of the Sorrento Peninsula.
While many confuse the entire peninsula of being the Amalfi Coast drive, it’s actually the 25-mile stretch of nail-biting hair turns that hugs the bottom of the Peninsula.
Begin the drive in Salerno and take Hwy SS163 west toward Vietri Sul Mare. You’ll come across 13 primary villages along the Coast until you arrive at the far west end in Positano.
You’ll see dramatic mountains plunging into the sea and be amazed as to how vertical villages appear to be clinging to the mountains for dear life. It will be a nerve-wracking drive, but one you will never, ever forget!
Either turn around once you reach Positano, or continue on Hwy SS145 through the countryside to the north, where you’ll reach Sorrento. You can then continue the route to the amazing ruins of Pompeii. From there, connect to Hwy SS18 up to Naples. Enjoy!
By Maureen from Life On The Mediterranean
Camino del Norte – The Coastal Path of Compostela
I’m lucky enough to live at the beginning of an amazing drive and trail: the Camino del Norte, also called the coastal path of Compostela.
Most people know about the path starting from Saint Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque country, but how many of you know about the coastal trail starting from Bayonne, the French capital of chocolate, along the Atlantic Ocean?
People have both the option to walk or drive all the way along. The two ways are of course a little bit different, but even with a car, you will drive along the ocean, between cliffs and mountains!
I especially know the part between Bayonne and Unquera, in the Spanish province of Cantabria. I particularly recommend you these stops: Biarritz (elected the most beautiful beach in France on Trip Advisor). Saint Jean du Luz in France, Fontarabie, Pasaia Donibane, San Sebastian (elected most beautiful beach in Europe on Trip Advisor), Getaria, Zumaia and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (the shooting places of Game of Thrones 7), Santillana del Mar and San Vivente de la Barquera.
As a local, I’m totally fond of the 6 km long Corniche road between Saint Jean de Luz and Hendaye.
By Stephanie from Ethno Travels
San Diego to Los Angeles
A drive from San Diego to downtown Los Angeles is pretty straightforward and you can easily make a day trip out of it. But if you want to do a nice weekend getaway then there’s more time to explore the beautiful coastal areas and hidden spots along the way.
From Los Angeles, you can take Hwy 405 and visit quirky and fun places like Venice Beach, the art and downtown scene at Laguna Beach and beautiful harbor scene at Dana Point. The 405 finally merges into coastal Hwy 5 all the way down to San Diego and highlights visiting the area include the gorgeous spring to summer flower fields at Carlsbad, the beautiful San Diego botanical gardens at Encinitas and the stunning cliffs of Torrey Pines Reserve. Close by is La Jolla and you should definitely spend some time explore the coastal areas, beaches and the charming downtown area and find some of the amazing brew pubs San Diego is well known for. While visiting the city, check out these top 40 things to do in San Diego for more inspiration and images.
By Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
North Coast 500, Scotland
The North Coast 500 in Scotland begins in Inverness and loops around the north of Scotland. 513 miles long, it passes stunning white sandy beaches, fairytale castles, whisky distilleries and landscape you have to see to believe.
Leaving the bustling city behind it’s not long before you venture onto the famous single track roads. Heading west, across the scary and daunting (and must do for anyone up for a challenge) Balach na ba, which reaches the dizzying height of 626 metres, you’ll reach the remote and utterly stunning little village of Applecross. Don’t forget a pint at the Applecross Inn, and admire the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye across the water. The road curves north and takes in Lochranza and Gairloch and the beautiful Alchmelvich Beach before winding gently through the barren and Jurassic-like Sutherland area and reaching the most northerly point in mainland Britain, Dunnet Head, and the most northerly village, John O’Groats. The route finished by heading down the less dramatic, but beautifully lush and green east coast back to Inverness.
This route has been driven by a surprising array of vehicles, bikes and campers and takes in some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, it’s the perfect road trip, especially if you spread it out over a week and spend some time exploring the villages, climbing the mountains and taking a dip in the turquoise, crystal clear waters.
By Nicola from Funky Ellas Travel
Highway 1 In Northern California
By Victoria from Follow Me Away
Switzerland – Lakeside Drives from a landlocked country
By Arzo from Arzo Travels
The Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
The Bay of Kotor is spectacularly nestled between two mountain ranges off the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro. The road hugs the coast, past medieval villages begging to be explored and backed by steep, green wooded forests and soaring grey rocky outcrops. The water glistens in the sunshine and yachts sail dreamily along the bay. It is by far one of the best things to see in Montenegro.
The most famous attraction is the world heritage listed medieval town of Kotor. Surrounded by impressive ancient fortifications, get lost down cobblestone alleyways or take a thigh-burning walk up to San Giovanni Fortress for spectacular views across the bay.
Continue driving to Perast, a picturesque village dotted with medieval Venetian palaces and views across to St George and Our Lady of the Rocks islands. Hire a small boat to take you to the islands or find a spot along the foreshore to enjoy the sun and take a dip in the bay.
Further along is Morinj, a pretty little seaside village and home to one of the country’s best restaurants. For those wanting to admire the super yachts, make your way to glitzy Tivat on the southern shores of the bay. The Bay of Kotor is a rewarding and memorable coastal drive.
By Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine
Sao Miguel, Portugal
The Portuguese islands of the Azores are dotted in the North Atlantic Ocean, around 900 miles from Lisbon. Despite only measuring around 40 miles wide and 10 miles high, the main island of Sao Miguel is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Europe. Mountains are lined by rolling green fields and lush thick tropical forests. Stunning lakes of brilliant blue and emerald green fill the island’s interior and steam bellows out from the geothermal springs near Lake Furnas.
All of this is set against the brilliant blue backdrop of the ocean. Visible from almost every part of the island, the most beautiful stretch of road is along Sao Miguel’s northern coast. Old coastal roads snake through sleepy fishing villages that dot the jagged coastline. With an Azorean twist on Mediterranean Portugal, the gorgeous northern coastline is dotted with tiny rural towns of pretty white bungalows and black and white churches. From Bretanha in the west to Nordeste in the east, each town along the way stares out over the vast open ocean. There’s nothing but water between here and Iceland a further 1800 miles to the north.
By James from Where You’re Between
Zadar to Pag Island, Croatia
My favourite coastal drive around the world is one that took us from Zadar to Pag Island on the Croatian coast.
The scenery on this stretch is out of this world. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of Europe and not on some far-off planet as we drove to Pag. The landscape becomes increasingly desolate and it is in stark contrast to the blue Adriatic.
Pag is famous for this moonlike landscape as well as lace and cheese production. The latter is delicious.
The island itself is home to some lovely little villages which are fun to explore with their little shops and alleyways. There are beaches, one of which is known for its nightlife and this can be a big party destination at times.
The road itself is easy to drive and it’s an easy full or half day trip from Zadar. You can catch a bus if you don’t have your own car. I highly recommend that you add it to your road trip bucket list.
By Sharon from Simpler and Smarter
Indian Ocean Drive, Western Australia
The Indian Ocean Drive is one of West Australia’s most iconic routes, stretching from the northern outskirts of Perth to the seaside town of Dongara. The 300km long road passes through the regions’ coastal landscape, with stunning views of pristine beaches, turquoise waters and enormous white sand dunes.
One of the highlights of a trip along the Indian Ocean Drive is a visit to the Pinnacle Desert. Here thousands of limestone pillars rise out of the sand to create an unreal landscape that wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi movie. Slightly further north near the town of Cervantes is another natural wonder – the thrombolites at Lake Thetis. Quite incredibly these are some of the oldest living organisms on the planet and the reason why life exists on earth.
There are a few small fishing towns dotted along the Indian Ocean Drive which offer a good stop to stretch the legs or even better, a refreshing swim at the beach. Not to be missed for first-time travellers is a seafood lunch or dinner featuring rock lobster, the region’s delicacy on this strip of coastline.
By Nina from West Australian Explorer
Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga via 90-mile beach, North Island, New Zealand.
The driving in New Zealand is simply stunning. The roads are long, quiet, well maintained, and take you through some of the most remarkable landscapes in the world.
One of the best actual coastal drives on North Island takes you from the Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga (the most northerly part of NZ that’s accessible to travellers), via 90 Mile Beach.
Following the east coast along Route 10, the drive takes you through the picturesque towns Paihia, Kerikeri and Mangonui along the Bay of Islands. It is fairly inland here, but that soon changes when you take a right at the intersection with Route 1 (heading north) and drive 15 minutes to Waipapakauri.
It is here that you can access the remarkable if misleadingly named, 90 Mile Beach: a 55 mile stretch of beach where sun, sea and sand surround you as far as the eye can see. With a decent set of wheels (and at low tide) you can drive along the beach itself, heading northwards. It is driving at its finest.
Further up you find a riverbed to your right. Drive up there!
After a short drive through shallow waters you reach the almighty Te Paki sand dunes and to an actual road (Te Paki Stream road), which leads back to Route 1. At Route 1, take a left and then just follow it until you can go no further. Welcome to Cape Reinga.
By Danny from Coddiwomp
The Scenic East Coast of Taiwan
The east coast of Taiwan separates 3000-meter peaks found just inland and the continental shelf right offshore under the Pacific, making it one of the steepest overall drops in the world. That means the scenery along the coast is nothing short of fantastic, with coastal highways perched along dramatic cliffs that drop to the sea.
Some of the best views can be found in Hualien County, also home to Taroko Gorge (known as “Taiwan’s Grand Canyon”), and this is also a convenient starting point for an east coast road trip. After renting a car or scooter in Hualien City, first head north to see the Qingshui Cliffs, offering the most stunning vistas on the entire coast. Next, head south of Hualien City and follow coastal highway #11 all the way to Taitung and then Kenting at the southern tip of Taiwan. Make sure to stop and see the dragon-like island bridge at Sanxiantai!
As you approach Kenting, the scenery transforms from tropical to sand dunes that spill onto the highway and down to the ocean. Four days return is the recommended time frame for this awesome coastal route.
By Nick Kembel from Spiritual Travels
Cape Town, South Africa
My very favourite coastal drive in the world happens to be in my hometown of Cape Town. This coastal road begins in Green Point just past the entrance to the V&A Waterfront. It then winds its way along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and beneath the towering peaks of Table Mountain.
Along the way, you’ll pass through the vibrant seaside suburb of Sea Point, through the chosen neighbourhood of the uber-rich Clifton via the sunset strip of Camps Bay and then along a wild stretch of coastline until you reach the enclave of Hout Bay. From here you’ll wind your way up towards Chapman’s Peak Drive for the most incredible views of the Sentinel Peak and down across Noordhoek beach. Continue on towards Cape Point via Kommetjie and Scarborough or stop to refuel at Noordhoek Farm Village and then head back the way you came to appreciate the vistas from the other direction.
This drive never gets old… I should know, I’m lucky enough to be able to drive this exact road home if the traffic on the other side of Table Mountain gets too hectic. Talk about an impressive commute!
By Kathryn from Becoming You
Muscat to Sohar, Oman
My favourite coastal drive is from Muscat to Sohar in Oman. The sea here always seems to shimmer and when driving along this route you can dip in and out of the coastal road.
Coming from the bright lights of Muscat the little towns and villages you pass through on the way to Sohar are just so evocative, it’s such an insight into the real Oman, with friendly smiles and when we stopped for ice cream, warm greetings shared.
We travelled this route as part of our road trip around Oman and it has to be my favourite stretch. Getting to the beach at Al Sawadi, where the piles of shells are every colour imaginable and piled high across the sand, it’s the perfect stop off to take in the sea air and even take a boat trip to some of the neighbouring islands. When you reach the final stop at Sohar it’s the perfect little beach resort with gorgeous sea views and plenty to keep you here for a day or two.
By Nichola from Globalmouse Travels
The Pacific Coast Highway, California
Stretching over 1000 km, the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is the best way to see Southern California and one of my favorite coastal drives in the world.
What makes this drive so great is that the route is dotted with attractions. From San Francisco to San Diego, you can visit the historic Hearst Castle, camp at Kirk Creek, relax on Marshall Beach or witness the stunning waterfalls at Multnomah Falls.
There’s also numerous national parks, hiking trails and vantage points to take in the view of the horizon. A must visit is Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, recognized around the world as one of the most beautiful meetings of land and sea. It’s a fantastic way to spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks on the road and a great way to see some of the best attractions California has to offer.
By David from Paid Survey Fanatic
The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada is a highway that runs approximately 300 km (187.5 mile) in a loop through Cape Breton. While you could drive the entire trail in one day, you would be robbing yourself of some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever lay eyes on.
Make sure you stop at one of the many artisans for local handicrafts. You’ll easily see the influence of Scottish settlers in the many tartan shops along the Trail. If you fancy a nip of something else with a heavy Scottish influence, there is a distillery where you can stop for a wee dram. With the ocean almost always within hearing distance, you will never be far from a plate of fresh seafood, especially the lobster.
The northern part of the Cabot Trail runs through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, providing ample opportunities to hike the mountainous trails or walk along the many beaches. There are several campgrounds in the park but if camping isn’t your style, there are plenty of lodging options along the trail.
The scenery may have you visiting the Cabot Trail, but the East Coast hospitality will have you coming back.
By Kristal from Adventure Dawgs
Clarence Drive, Western Cape, South Africa
Clarence Drive is a drive less travelled, but surely one of the most scenic coastal drives in South Africa. It certainly rivals the more famous Chapman’s Peak drive which skirts Cape Town.
Hugging the dramatic coastline between the hamlet of Rooi-Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay in the Western Cape, this drive, originally constructed by Italian prisoners of war, is at once awe-inspiring, and sometimes precarious.
Clarence Drive stretches for around 21kms between the two coastal towns. There are many corners, in fact, be ready for around 77 bends as the road twists and turns like a ribbon between massive mountains of buckled and contorted sandstone, part of the ancient Cape Fold Belt.
The sparkling Cape waters glitter like diamonds below as you traverse the shoreline, sometimes high above it, at others close to the rocks.
Travelling from Gordons Bay you’ll eventually spot Hangklip, the tip of False Bay, jutting out above the small coastal enclave of Rooiels, signalling the end of your coastal extravaganza. At Rooiels there’s a fabulously photographic inky lagoon leached with minerals which give it a curious sepia tint.
By Jo from Lifestyle Fifty
Grande Corniche on the Côte d’Azur, France
Epic Road Rides’ top coastal road is the Grande Corniche on the Côte d’Azur in France. Since we’re all about road cycling in the world’s best locations, our recommendation would, of course, be to cycle it. But it’s also an unforgettable drive!
The Grande Corniche is one of three spectacular corniche roads that head east from Nice towards Monaco and the Italian border.
It’s the highest of the three, at around 500 metres above the sea. It also has less traffic than the others: while the Basse Corniche can get clogged with traffic, you’re much less likely to be too bothered by other vehicles on the Grande Corniche.
The Grande Corniche has a lot of history. It was built in the 1820s and follows the ancient Roman road, the Via Julia Augusta. It’s not surprising so many films and car adverts have been filmed here; the scenery is a dramatic combination of vertical cliffs, luxurious villas and azure blue sea.
One of the best sections is where the road passes through the Col d’Èze and you’re treated to views down to the medieval village of Èze, perched on a rock above the sea.
By Clare from Epic Road Rides
Taipei to Kenting, Taiwan’s East Coast
By Daniele & Elena from Cycloscope
Kraljevica to Zadar, Croatia
One of my favourite coastal drives around the world is the drive from Kraljevica to Zadar in Croatia. We were fortunate enough to do this on a motorbike which gives you a different experience as you feel the sun on your back and smell what is around you.
As you leave Kraljevica you get magnificent views over Krk and some of the other islands that sit in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Then hugging the coast you can stop at the little town of Sveti Juraj. Set right on the coast with views over the nearby islands it has the perfect coffee shop on the wharf where the local fisherman are bringing in their daily catch.
The road then continues to wind around tiny inlets with boats almost floating in the air as the water is so clear. We also made a stop in Karlobag, we spotted a huge sun-deck overlooking the coastline, and sat enjoying an amazing lunch chatting with our host.
Make sure you leave plenty of time as the photo opportunities are everywhere as you hug the coastline, looking over steep limestone cliff faces to take in the vistas, it truly is a spectacular way to spend a day.
By Michele & Ron from Legging It
Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia
The coastal drive I am going to tell you is not a very famous place but it’s a small island in Indonesia. Beside Bali (the most popular island in Indonesia) there are 3 small (tiny) islands. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Penida is the biggest among three. In my Indonesia solo trip last year, I visited Nusa Penida Island for 3 days.
For more details on how to plan the budget trip and things to know before visiting this amazing island, please read my post –http://www.travelthroughmyeye.com/nusa-penida-island-bali-indonesia/
In Nusa Penida, the moment I reached there and dropped from my speedboat, I rented a bike. For the next 3 days, that bike was my only companion. Being a very small and not very popular island, most of the places were almost virgin. The roads were parallel to the sea but most of the time you have to travel in the hilly area. There are some amazing cliffs which are unforgettable. Crystal Bay, Broken Bay, Banah Cliff, Saren Cliff, and Karang Dawa View Point are to name of few.
However, this trip and the ride was best not only because of the scenic beauty of the places but the horrible conditions of the roads.
All the roads pass through hills, forest, and small villages, most of the time you will not see a single person in the vicinity and some signboard is all that can help you to take you to your destinations. I had one printed map (not to scale) which often I had to refer in the journey. The Internet is not available in the island to guide you, so you can sense the thrill. Several times I felt that I am not lost and 3 times my bike skidded. Luckily all three times some villagers, tourist drivers were there to take care.
I remember that before every spot I visited, I was deciding that this one would be my last spot and I will return to my hostel, but after witnessing these mesmerizing beauty of nature, I was getting grittier and going ahead for the next one.
This was my best coastal ride experience. Visit my website –http://www.travelthroughmyeye.com to know more about my travel experience.
By Sudeshna from Travel Through My Eye
West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island
New Zealand’s north and south islands are both stunning, but the best-of-the-best is the coastal drive along the wild west coast of the South Island. In some ways, it reminded me of California’s central coast near Big Sur with its steep cliffs and breathtaking coastal vista. In other ways, the geology, plants, and birds were uniquely New Zealand.
On our visit, we started inland in Queenstown (known as the adventure capital of the world), drove north to Wanaka for a night and then cut over to the coast at Haast. Then we headed north to our Fox Glacier helicopter hike. (Don’t miss this bucket list experience!)…with a stop to see the famous Blue Pools en route.
By overnighting on a deer farm in scenic Whataroa 45 minutes north of Fox, it was an easy jaunt up to quaint little Hokitika for a walk on the black sand beaches. But whatever you do… don’t miss the pancake rocks and blowholes walk in Paparoa National Park at Punakiki, just an hour north of Hokitika. The rocks that form this incredible natural wonder were formed 30 million years ago!
By Chris from Explore Now or Never – Read Chris’ article on Hiking Fox Glacier
Key West, Florida
My favorite coastal drive has to be driving down to Key West. Once you cross over a tall bridge into Key Largo, this is where the beauty of the drive truly begins!
You are transported from city life into chains of islands, bridges and blue water everywhere you look. Along the way, there are many quaint shops, seafood restaurants, and charming waterfront inns to stop and visit. Driving through, you can spot people fishing off bridges, boats and jet skis on the water, and bike-friendly paths. The speed limit is about 45 mph almost the entire way down to Key West, which allows you to appreciate the slower pace and island setting.
The best part of the drive is crossing over the 7 Mile Bridge. You can’t help but lower the windows, breathe in the ocean air and look around at all the water surrounding you. This road trip is at least 3 hours (unless you stop – which I highly recommend), and is definitely my favorite relaxing and scenic coastal drive!
By Margie DQ from DQ Travel
East Coast, Tasmania
When it comes to road tripping in Australia, one state can easily be crowned the king of road trips, and that is Tasmania. The entire state of Tasmania is perfect for road trips, with each part of the state providing its own unique, and stunning scenery. However, the most popular, and perhaps the most beautiful, road trip in Tasmania has got to be the East Coast.
The East Coast of Tasmania is an easy and convenient road trip option in Tasmania, as it links the two largest cities in Tasmania, both of which have large and busy airports. Fly into either Hobart or Launceston and out of the other for a seamless road trip experience.
Highlights of the drive include beautiful beaches, boutique wineries, accessible hikes, and off the beaten track islands to explore. Those with extra time can even combine this road trip with the Tasman Peninsula road trip for even more stunning coastal views and for a chance to visit one of Australia’s most significant historic convict site. http://ouroyster.com/tasmania-the-ultimate-tasman-peninsula-road-trip/
By Jade from Our Oyster
One of my favourite places for a scenic drive is alongside the pretty Austrian lakes near Salzburg. There are around 50 lakes of varying sizes in the Salzkammergut region giving you plenty of choice for a lakeside drive.
Driving alongside the lakes you pass a variety of scenery from thickly wooded areas to fields where cattle graze, through charming villages and past inviting swimming spots. And there’s always a mountain on the horizon.
Some of the prettiest drives in the region are along the western shore of Hallstattersee (Lake Hallstatt), beside Traunsee and alongside Attersee. Hugging the shoreline for much of the drive, the views of sparkling lakes hemmed in by the snow-capped Alps are simply breathtaking.
With so many lakes in close proximity, it’s easy to drive along the shorelines of a number of lakes in one day. Each one offers something different to the others but they all have one thing in common – they all offer stunning scenic views.
By Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
Scenic Highway, Queensland
I’m probably biased because it’s literally just down the road from my house; however, the Scenic Highway between the coastal towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park, on the Central Queensland Coast, is my favourite coastal drive. Overlooking Keppel Bay, and the stunning and unspoilt Keppel Islands, this road shows off some of the best views along Queensland’s coastline. It travels along beaches, and around headlands and some of the views are so unexpected they take your breath away. Watching the sunrise over the islands and bay is particularly spectacular and not to be missed.
In winter, humpback whales are regularly seen frolicking and calving in Statue Bay and are easily seen from your car as you travel past. All year round there are dolphins playing in the shallows, secluded beaches to explore, and plenty of places to turn off and go hiking across a headland. Yeppoon and Emu Park are adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and if you’re keen for a swim, the in-shore coral reefs on the headlands and surrounding the islands are some of the best you’ll see close to the mainland.
By Lisa from Make Plus Do
Cairns to Port Douglas, Queensland
By Bryony from Coasting Australia.
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
When researching the Marlborough Sounds it seemed like the best way to see this area was on a yacht or a multi-day hike on the Queen Charlotte Track.
Luckily for people feeling a little lazy (and who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on renting a yacht), there are several roads that wind their way through the sounds. These roads provide all the beautiful coastal views you could ever hope for.
The best of these road trips is the drive out to French Pass and Bulwer. There are so many places to pull over and see the clear blue water or the Marlborough Sounds from above and you can find some great short walks. There’s also a nice beach close to French Pass, which is the gateway to Durville Island, one of the largest islands in the Marlborough Sounds. The drive takes around two hours (one way) and there are several places to camp along the way, or you can easily do it as a day trip like we did.
By Jon from See The South Island