Top 10 coastal drives in the world

A winding two lane road… The deep blue hue of the sea to your side… The cool breeze in your hair (lucky you if you have a convertible!) That’s the thrill of driving down a coastal road. To be fair a few of the ones listed below are lake drives too but they still count I feel. I’ve had the fortune of doing a fair many of these in course of my travels, so I thought I’ll put together a list of the top 10 I’ve driven on. Not only is the drive stunningly beautiful, most of these have places you can stop for delightful coastal views, lighthouses, picnic spots and quaint inns. It’s hard to pick and choose (so these are in no particular order), and pretty much all of them are stunningly beautiful!

Samuel Boardman Scenic corridor (Oregon, USA)

The entire stretch of Highway 101 in southern Oregon is stunning, but this corridor refers to the 13 mile stretch just north of Brookings. Try and find the secret beach turn out and hike about a mile or so to find one of the most secluded beaches in the US.

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Great Ocean Drive (Australia)

This is the only road in the list I actually haven’t driven myself (as in actually drove the car), this is from my childhood in Australia in the early 90s. I still remember the amazing drive, staring at the imposing apostles and enjoying picnics sitting on the parks around the area.

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Chapman’s Peak drive (Cape Town, South Africa)

Enjoy the deep blue seas of the south atlantic on one side and the imposing facade of Table mountain on the other as you tackle the many turns of this beautiful road near Cape Town. Take a stop in Hout Bay to sample some great seafood. And of course, do continue to drive along the coast to visit the Cape of Good Hope! And while this is a great drive, Cape Town is one of the best places to take a chopper ride too, the second pic is just a glimpse of the stunning scenery you will take in from the air! The color of the ocean is just unbelievable in summer, it has to be seen to be believed!

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Highway 1 from Big Sur to Cambria (California, USA)

This is one of the most talked about coastal drives in the US, if not the world and with good reason. However over popularity means it’s always crowded so its best to go on a weekday if you really want to enjoy it, otherwise be prepared for hordes of tourists everywhere. Take a stop in the quaint town of Carmel-by-the-sea for a taste of Europe in the USA.

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Oregon 101 (Newport to Bandon, Oregon, USA)

Highway 101 in Oregon (and even Washington) has some of the most stunning scenery and is also devoid of crowds most of the time which makes it one of my favorite drives in the US. Stop by Newport for some delicious Dungeness Crab! And if you’re in the area around summer, try to camp along the coast, it’s an amazing experience.

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Door County (Wisconsin, USA)

Now this isn’t an ocean drive, but Lake Michigan is vast enough to almost be a sea at least! Some of the best fall colors you will see in the midwest is in Door County! Its picture postcard villages are straight out of europe with quaint inns, B&B’s and cottages. 

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Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Michigan, USA)

Another lake drive, this time its the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, the road snakes around multiple sandstone cliffs (that are great for kayaking around) and some stunning beaches. Try the smoked fish from one of the many shacks you will see peppered all over the area!


Puerto Rico

The road circumnavigating this tiny island protectorate has some sheer cliffs (great for whale watching) and some stunning white sand beaches that will give you company as you drive along. Stop by any of the small shacks for some tasty snacks and cheap beer. The central part of Puerto Rico is home to a lush green rainforest that is well worth a visit and definitely go to the islands of Vieques and Culebra for some of the best beaches in the world and to witness bioluminescence! 

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Dalmatian Coast (Croatia/Montenegro)

The drive from Trogir, through Split, Dubrovnik and onto Kotor is one of the most stunning drives not only for sheer natural beauty of the Adriatic but the plethora of culture you get to see in the medieval towns dotting the Dalmatian coastline. You need at least five days to do full justice to all that there is to see here. And there is fantastic Dalmatian seafood (with a strong italian influence) and great wine to be had all along the way. 

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Ring of Kerry (Ireland)

I pretty much drove all around Ireland in four days and stuck to the coastal roads as much as I could. While the emerald isle has stunning scenery all around, if you are short on time you could do the 2-3 hour drive around the Ring of Kerry and get a flavor for the country. But time permitting don’t restrict yourself to Kerry and just drive all around the country. The views are just gorgeous and you will see shades of green you didn’t know existed! The Guinness is great (of course! saying anything but is a sacrilege in this part of the world..!) and it’s a perfect complement to the freshest fish and chips you will get anywhere in the world!


Of course I’ve proclaimed in the title that these are the top 10 coastal drives in the world, but actually a more accurate version would be the top 10 that I’ve driven on. Which other coastal drives do you think should feature on a top 10 list? Let me know in the comments…!

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