There is something perfect about an open coastal road and a convertible, even if you’re one of those purists who turns his nose up at convertibles. I dunno if it’s the wind in your hair, the views or the salty air in your nose. Whatever it is, driving a coast anywhere is an icon of getting-away-from-it-all. Why sit on the beach when you can cruise the roadside passage snaking along that coast?
Pacific Coast Highway – USA
The State Route 1 (SR1) stretches from Dana Point in Southern California to the town of Leggett in Northern California. The most famous point on the route is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but the SR1 traverses a varied coastline. For coastal roads, it’s pretty safe, after years and money spent shoring up the famous pass. There are still sections where drivers must stay vigilant, but the bigger hazard is all the distractions. You’ll never get anywhere pulling over to see every sea lion and endless vista along the way. Totally worth it.
Great Ocean Road – Australia
It’s 151 miles long. The Great Ocean Road winds along the south-eastern coast of Australia. Soldiers returned from war built the road after the Great War as a memorial for fallen soldiers. As it stands, it is the largest war memorial on the planet. It’s so long it crosses rainforest, beaches, and cliffs, but cities too. Expect not to drive it alone during tourism season. There is only one lane either direction, but plenty of sunshine so pack sunscreen.
Adriatic Highway – Croatia
Still just one lane either direction, the Adriatic Highway crosses through four countries, but the longest part is through Croatia. During the summer you will find Europeans and other tourists driving the route for the sake of fun. People in a hurry, or those who don’t like the risk of coastal routes, take the expanding multilane highways popping up near the Adriatic instead. Be advised that the Adriatic can be dangerous in spots, especially as traffic increases.
Ruta 1 – Chile
An alternative to the Pan-American Highway, Ruta or Route 1 as you may prefer, is a 370-mile highway along the Chilean coast. Sections of the road are under construction as of this writing. Like many coastal roads, the 1 is subject to many natural challenges, ocean tides, earthquakes, sink holes. In some ways, because the position of Chile on the Earth is the opposite hemispherically as California, driving the 1 compares the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll cross through many coastal types and climates.
Amalfi Coast – Italy
The coastal road that traces the Amalfi Coast is not for the faint of heart. The turns are hairpin. The cliffs are deadly. Italians and tourists drive this 30-mile route like they were winning a race. You’ve gotta be ready to brake and dodge, but if you can take the heat, you’ll see the Earth in ways you’ll never see anywhere else. it travels from Sorrento to Amalfi Village. Go during shoulder season to avoid getting stuck behind a bus.
Slea Head Drive – Ireland
The only route on this list that goes in a circle, beginning and ending in the town of Dingle, The Sled Head Drive travels coastline and through some country too. Locals recommend you travel the route in a clockwise fashion. That way you won’t get stuck behind tour buses, which go the other way. On this route, you’ll pass ancient monuments as well as shipwrecks and timeless coastline views. When it’s done, you’re right back where you started.
Chapman’s Peak Drive – South Africa
Hacked from the side of a mountain, Chapman’s Peak Drive they first constructed in 1915 using convict labor. It took until 1922 to open the roadway. Over the years, Officials have closed the Drive due to washouts and rock falls. They’ve made progressive engineering adjustments to the more dangerous sections, adding rockfall-proof coverings in places, but the danger is still present. If you don’t mind the improbable risks, you’ll pass white sandy beaches, cliffs, and towns along Chapman’s. You may even catch whales if you go the right time of year. There’s a lot do along this drive.