There’s nothing like a drive with a view. We are fortunate enough to have been on plenty of road trips in our time and we have always found the most enjoyable ones are the road trips along the coast line. Lucky for us there are plenty to choose from around the world. Here’s our picks for the most scenic beachside drives around the world.
The Great Ocean Road
Running from Torquay to Allansford, the Great Ocean Road is also known by the less charming name of B100. This 151 mile (243 kilometer) road serves to commemorate those soldiers who died during the course of the First World War and encompasses a stretch of land known as the “Surf Coast”. Needless to say this road is popular with both tourists and surfers alike. Numerous points of interest litter the area surrounding the highway.
One popular stop is the Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell National Park. These are eight limestone rock formations that were once part of the cliff, but now appear to emerge from the sea. Formerly these columns were known as the Sow and Piglets, but have since been renamed for tourism purposes. The parking lot and site are both free for guests.
Port Campbell National Park is located about a five hour drive from Melbourne and is also worth seeing for more than just the scenic rock formations. The area is particularly beautiful at sunset. The Grotto, the London Bridge, and the Arch are other formations worth seeing as well. Weather conditions in the park can be windy at times, so visitors should bring a jacket or sweater in order to remain warm. Day Trips from Melbourne can be accomplished by traveling out to Cobden and then taking the offshoot road to Port Campbell/Peterborough. The beach there is beautiful as well.
Other points of interest can be found along the route, such as the towns of Cape Bridgewater and Port Fairy. The latter offers guests the chance to stroll out to the photographic Griffin Island lighthouse. Cape Bridgewater not only has petrified forest but also blow holes in the ocean side rocks for guests to enjoy.
Pacific Coast Highway
South Island, New Zealand
This well signposted route provides many scenic views of the ocean and takes in the towns of Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, and Napier. Being the capital of New Zealand, Auckland boasts a wide variety of dining and hotel options. Should guests tire of the city, Waiheke Island is a perfect day trip from Auckland. A forty minute boat ride take visitors to the island which features olive groves and golden, sandy beaches. While there, be sure to check out the Onetangi Forest and Bird Reserve. The Connells Bay Sculpture Park is also worth visiting if one should tire of the beaches.
Cathedral Cove is an excellent stop-off spot on this highway’s itinerary. Snorkeling and kayaking are quite popular in this location. The site offers visitors a secluded beach cove well worth the 45 minute hike to get there. Be aware that parking is limited and there is no food sold on the beach. Hot Water Beach is also located near the Pacific Coast Highway and it features thermally heated water pools for visitors to relax in. Visiting the active volcano at White Island is another adventure for those who choose to make the drive.
Vineyards and Maori villages dot the landscape in Eastland and those who make it to Gisborne will find excellent surfing there. Additionally, Whale Rider fans should be sure to stop by the small village of Whangara. The Hawke’s Bay features excellent wineries and Cape Kidnappers is home to a large gannet colony. Excellent golfing can also be found at Cape Kidnappers.
Pacific Coast Highway
Yes, there is another one. While they are quite alike in bestowing photographic and scenic ocean views on those who choose to transverse them, this highway is located in the United States. The section from San Francisco to Santa Barbara is especially gorgeous, but travelers should drive carefully because the roads are narrow, twisting, and hang over steep cliffs in some locations. The 17 mile area of this route is known for its breathtaking cliff views. Of course, there is plenty to do in San Francisco from seeing Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Pismo Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway makes for a great stopping point. Kayaking, swimming, diving, and surfing are popular activities here. For those who prefer to remain on dry land, the Monarch Butterfly Grove is worth a stop as it is home to the local colony of monarch butterflies from December through February. The Pismo Pier is also good for a stroll and people watching. Another excellent stopping point for beach activities is Pebble Beach.
Further points of interest include the seal colony at Año Nuevo State Park and the Carmel Mission, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz is yet another recommended attraction, featuring wooden roller coasters and low-cost rides. Of course, nature lovers should not miss the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is home to the giant trees.
Did we miss any off the lost of The Most Scenic Beachside Drives Around the World?