The World’s Best Coastal Drives

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The World’s Best Coastal Drives

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Make sure you wear your seat belt, because it will be tough to keep your eyes on the road.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

It might be just 36 km long and narrow to boot but it strings together 13 brilliant destinations, each with a compelling reason for a quick pit stop. The SS 163 runs from Vietri sul Mare to Positano and offers stunning views of the mountainous coastline and the Mediterranean Sea. Check into the Palazzo Avino at Ravello, a luxury hideaway that boasts of a two-star Michelin restaurant, Rosellini. From the ruins of Pompeii to the Capri Island and the prospect of sampling Italian Prosseco and Grappas, there’s enough off-the-road action. And if you like to show other motorists who’s boss, you will find the macho Italians more than up for the challenge.

Atlantic Road, Norway

An 8 km stretch of road that’s over 500 km away from the country’s capital might seem like too much effort. But Norway’s famous Altanhterhavsvegen (Atlantic road) offers some of the most picturesque vistas. It's built on several small islands connected by causeways, viaducts and bridges and has already been voted as Norway’s architectural monument of the century. The dramatic Storseisundet Bridge, commonly known as the road to nowhere, is a perfect example of edgy Scandinavian design and so are the viewing platforms that take you mighty close to the ocean and its elements. Once you are back in Oslo, you can let your hair down in one of the city’s high-energy nightclubs, like Blå.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

When you’ve had enough of Melbourne’s vibrant multi-cultural and sporting experiences and are ready to hit the road, head towards the city’s South West where one of the world’s finest drives awaits. Spread over 240 km is the Great Ocean Road that starts at Torquay and probably offers more diverse experiences than anywhere in the world – from rainforests and Australian fauna at the Tower Hill State Reserve to the finest Australian wines and gourmet food in towns like Apollo Bay along the route. But ultimately, this road is all about the staggering ocean views and craggy limestone formations along the coastline that make up the 12 Apostles.

Pacific Coast Highway, California

Probably the most scenic coastal route along the American mainland, this 200 km stretch combines the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway and is conveniently located to the south of San Francisco and north of LA. With the number of distractions along this route, any carefully planned itinerary is likely to go haywire. There’s Carmel, the town where Clint Eastwood was once mayor, beaches, redwood forests and Monterey – California’s original Spanish capital and home to the legendary Monterey Bay aquarium. The stunning 17 Mile Drive section of the highway is full of spectacular vistas, twists, turns and cliff hugging roads; this is one stretch where you might be happy to let someone else get behind the wheel as you whip out your SLR.

Hana Coast, Maui, Hawaii

It’s tough to pick one ocean drive in Hawaii but if you had to choose the most unspoilt region, Maui would probably be it. Spread over 80 km and flanked by the ocean, lush greenery, waterfalls and dotted with almost 60 bridges, this highway can test your driving skills with its countless curves and breathtaking scenery. There are several national parks in the vicinity, like the large 122-acre Waianapanapa State Park with a black sand beach. The Travaasa Hana was voted Hawaii’s finest resort in the American Condé Nast Traveler’s 2011 Reader's Choice Awards is easily the best address in Hana.


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