Epic coastal road trips around the world

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Ever wondered what the coolest coastal road trips in the world are? Picture the scene, you're cruising along a breezy, coastal highway, windows down, your favourite playlist on the car stereo. Utter bliss.

There's a real sense of freedom and romance to be had with a classic coast road trip, especially if your drive includes dreamy coastal scenery, quirky pit stops, challenging roads and fun passengers.

A coastal drive is the perfect road trip for seaside lovers and those seeking adventures and travel memories that will last a lifetime.

If you're renting a car for your coastal road trip, make sure you get decent car insurance, essential travel items, a slamming playlist and a cool road trip buddy to make sure your journey is all kinds of awesome.

Also, take some time to plan your trip and look at the best road trip destinations for your budget and time frame. Some coastal road trips are longer than others and accommodation prices can vary depending on what time of year you're visiting your chosen destination. 

Here's my list of some of the best coastal road trips in the world, so you can plan your future driving adventure. 

Great Ocean Road, Australia


The Great Ocean Road in Australia (also known as the B100), is a 151 mile stretch of asphalt highway that links the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Along the way, you’ll see the sensational limestone cliffs and coastal views of Victoria's southwest. 

There's also many iconic sights, points of interest and some scenic 'selfie spots' along the way. 

Drive past sheer ocean cliffs to view untouched surf beaches, quaint small towns and intriguing rainforests on frankly one of the best road trips in the world. 

Some of the sights you won't want to miss along the drive include the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks jutting up out of the ocean. 

Despite the name, only seven of the Apostles are still standing as coastal weathering means some have eroded and returned to the sea. You might also want to check out Bells Beach, a world-renowned surfing beach, and The Kinnett River Koala Walk (also known as Grey River Road). 

Chapman's Peak Drive, South Africa


Chapman's Peak Drive is a 5.5 mile road from Noordhoek to Hout Bay in southwest South Africa, near Cape Town. This popular coastal road is known as one of the world's most beautiful. There are an astonishing 114 curves on this road with dramatic, 180-degree views of the Atlantic coastline. 

The road is named after Chapman's Peak a 593 kilometre (1,954 foot) mountain sitting along the rocky shore. You can hike to the peak of the mountain for even more amazing views in two to three hours. If you are looking for more to do along the route check out Cape Point Nature Preserve, Hout Bay, or Cape Point Route. 

Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway 


Atlantic Ocean Road is five miles of paved road along the northwest Norwegian coastline. This drive is perfect for adventure seekers because it feels similar to a roller coaster with its eight curving bridges. The road links the fjord towns of Kristiansund and Molde and was completed in 1989 after six years of construction. 

The Atlantic Ocean Road is designated as one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. This road was a toll road until 1999, but now drivers can travel the road for free. 

Storseisundet Bridge is the tallest of the road's eight bridges. When viewed from certain angles it appears as though you are going to drop straight into the sea. 

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, Scotland


The Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail takes in 165 miles of stunning Scottish scenery including dramatic cliffs, sweeping beaches, historic castles and cute fishing villages. 

For a relatively short road-trip route there is an amazing amount of diversity. The journey starts at St Cyrus Nature Reserve where passing whales can sometimes be spotted from the shore.

Further along the route, you can find other nature reserves with puffins and playful seals. 

The coastal trail also takes in Dunnottar Castle which is one of the most photogenic in Scotland and at Cruden Bay, you can find Slains Castle, said to be the inspiration for the Dracula novels. 

Another unusual attraction is Peterhead Prison Museum, Scotland's answer to Alcatraz. A favourite road trip stop is Rattray Head, with its huge sand dunes, golden beach and picturesque white-washed lighthouse. 

Other highlights are the collapsed sea cave at the Bullers of Buchan and the photogenic villages of Pennan, Crovie and Gardenstown. 

Pacific Coast Highway, California


One of the most beautiful drives in the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway, [also known as Highway One], delivers epic views along the California coast.

Focus on the stretch from Monterey to Malibu and you won't be disappointed. Stop at overlooks to watch adorable seals and sea lions playing in the ocean. The journey begins in San Juan Capistrano and ends in Mendocino County. 

The Pacific Coast Highway is 655 miles long and you can potentially make the drive in around five to six hours but you’d be missing out on some brilliant stops if you rush the drive. 

There are quirky restaurants, expansive parks, sandy beaches, and even seal watching to explore along the way. 

A few road trip highlights include taking a pic before you cross the iconic Bixby Bridge, a favourite scene in the HBO series Big Little Lies. Walking through the lap of luxury at Hearst Castle. Playing in the surf at Malibu Beach and strolling along Santa Monica Pier. There are so many fun things to do on this Californian coastal route.  

If you only have time for a day trip from San Francisco, drive as far as Nepenthe, a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal and ocean views from the edge of a cliff, before turning back. 

Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland


Causeway Coastal Route in Ireland, also known as the Giant's Causeway Road starts in Belfast and goes to Derry-Londonderry. This iconic road trip is continually growing in popularity thanks to TV shows like Game of Thrones and Derry Girls, showcasing Ireland's landscapes and highlighting its raw beauty, history and heritage. 

You can tackle this epic road trip all at once, or you can split it up into several visits, depending on how much time you have and what your budget is. 

Driving down the Causeway Coastal Route is a leisurely way to experience the beautiful coastal scenery of Ireland and there are many major tourist landmarks and sites along with it. 

Experience lush countryside, historic castles, welcoming towns and mesmerising coastal views as you cruise through coastal roads and countryside. 

Stop in to eat, shop, and explore at some of the Nine Glens (valleys) of Atrim where you will find storybook villages, local cuisine, and centuries of history. 

Some of the main highlights of the route include Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and the Old Bushmills Distillery. 

Road to Hana, the island of Maui, Hawaii


The Road to Hana on the island of Maui is 64 miles long and has amazing coastal views, but  is not for the faint of heart. 

This is one of the most challenging coastal roads in the world to drive, so you better brace yourself for a daring road trip adventure. 

There are 59 single-lane bridges, and an astonishing 617 switchbacks or hairpin turns with sheer drop-offs straight into the ocean. 

The Road to Hana is also known as the Divorce Highway since the nerve-wracking drive can cause arguments between spouses as they travel it. 

The road connects Kahului to the more isolated community of Hana and offers drivers the chance to stop and take pictures of all of the dramatic waterfalls along the way. 

Cap Corse Road, France


The Cap Corse Road on the Northeast island of Corsica, France, is also known as the D80. This meandering road is 68-mile-long and offers spectacular views of the ocean as well as a glimpse at many charming villages. The average speed of travel on Cap Corse Road is 40 kilometres per hour. 

The majority of visitors travel the Cap Corse Road in an anti-clockwise direction,  so that they can take in the amazing views of sunrise and sunset. 

The coastal views are better in the east in the morning and the west in the evening. 

If you plan to spend two days on this drive you won't be disappointed, there are many amazing villages, shops, restaurants, beaches, and ports to explore. 

The Atlantic Highway, Cornwall and Devon, UK


Take in sunny, coastal views in the UK on the Atlantic Highway, a 70-mile section of the A39 and experience the highlights of Devon and Cornwall. 

Discover fishing villages, sandy beaches and expansive national parks driving this 77-mile journey from Barnstaple in Devon to surf capital Newquay in Cornwall. 

The route twists and turns along the coast and also heads inland in some sections, allowing you to visit engaging attractions and high-quality lodgings in the South West. 

Your journey starts in the historic town of Barnstaple, the social centre of north Devon. Start your coastal road trip adventure by grabbing a cocktail and sharing board in cosy lounge bar Claytons and booking a night in a nearby holiday cottage.   

Follow the A39 towards Wadebridge and Bude, making sure to stop for cream teas, sea views and heritage hotspots.

Spend some time in the resort town of Bude and enjoy scenic coastal walks, proper pub lunches and boating on the canal. 

Make sure to check out the epic and free tidal pool in Bude. It's a beautiful, part natural, part man-made swimming pool in the rocks at Summerleaze Beach. 

Pip Jones is a travel writer and host of the Travel Goals Podcast. She can normally be found drinking coffee, typing an article and taking a selfie all at the same time.

Web: www.pipandthecity.com and www.walesbucketlist.com
Twitter: @pip_says
Instagram: @pipsays

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