15 Jaw-Dropping Coasts Around the World
From remote rain forest-covered islets in Palau to storybook cliff-hugging villages in Amalfi, our world has no shortage of jaw-dropping coasts. Here, just 15 of the most photogenic we could find.
Big Sur, California
Thanks to California’s Highway 1, millions of tourists sweep through Big Sur—a rugged coastline that stretches from San Simeon to Carmel—each year. The isolated road closely follows the Santa Lucia mountain range, which rises majestically from the crashing waves of the Pacific.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Australia’s Great Ocean Road runs for more than 150 miles along its southeastern seaboard, starting in Torquay and ending in Allansford. The dramatic route runs parallel to Surf and Shipwreck coasts and passes by sandstone and limestone cliffs, golden beaches, roaring waterfalls, and the iconic 12 Apostles—a collection of monumental rock stacks that soar up from the Southern Ocean.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Sleepy pastel-hued villages, cerulean waters, and mild Mediterranean temperatures make for relaxed, carefree visits to Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. Follow the coast from the Gulf of Naples to the Gulf of Salerno, and you’ll come across countless hamlets home to Byzantine-era churches, terraced lemon groves, and small but seductive beaches.
Holiday-makers may often flee to Santorini or Mykonos for a taste of the Greek isles, but Lefkada is a relatively under-the-radar alternative along the country’s west coast. There, cypress trees and olive groves ring remote beaches while the sun shimmers off the exotically turquoise Ionian Sea.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Who ever said jaw-dropping coasts have to feature white sandy beaches or glittering crystal waters? In the case of Norway’s Lofoten Islands, tucked away in unspoiled wilderness far above the Arctic Circle, what you’ll find is quaint fishing villages, snow-capped alpine peaks, narrow fjords, and playful northern lights dancing over the Norwegian Sea.
White Cliffs of Dover, England
Southern England’s White Cliffs of Dover owe their unmistakeable chalk and black flint composition to Ice Age-era flooding. Stand atop the eight-mile-long bluffs on a particularly clear day and you can see all the way across the Strait of Dover to France.
Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast (and Croatia as a whole) has officially arrived as one of Europe’s most tempting holiday destinations. One look at the region’s sapphire Adriatic waters, hidden beach enclaves, and medieval Game of Thrones-featured villages, and it’s pretty apparent why.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
More than 1,600 limestone islets rise from the waters of northeastern Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay. The area surrounding its grouping of karst pillars is especially spectacular to visit thanks to its wealth of hollow cave systems, floating fishing villages, and tropical evergreen rainforests.
Acadia National Park, Maine
White-tailed deer, moose, beavers, bobcats, peregrine falcons, and black bears are just a few of the residents that can be found roaming Acadia’s rugged Atlantic coast. But aside from wildlife, the stunning Maine landscape can also be distinguished by its snow-capped mountain peaks, rocky stone shores, and pink granite summits.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The rugged shale and sandstone Cliffs of Moher, which draw millions of visitors every year, have become one of the most emblematic images of Ireland. Looking west from cliff’s edge, you can spot the Aran Islands in County Galway and the Twelve Bens Mountains in Connemara. Be sure to look around for colonies of Atlantic Puffins, which call the most isolated areas of the cliffs home.
Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
The Cape Town suburb of Camps Bay, less than 10 minutes outside the city center, unfolds at the base of the Twelve Apostles mountain range (actually the Atlantic-facing portion of Table Mountain). Its eponymous beach’s platinum sands often play host to international socialites, supermodels, and…drumroll…Leonardo DiCaprio.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
Na Pali Coast State Park stretches over 17 miles along the northwestern shore of Kauai. Given that the name directly translates to high cliffs, it should come as no surprise that Na Pali’s claim to fame is its emerald green mountain range, which looms some 4,000 feet over the Pacific.
RELATED: Hawaii for Everyone
More than 500 remote islands make up the Palau archipelago, located just southeast of the Philippines. Electric blue lagoons, velvet white-sand beaches, and lively barrier reefs are just some of the things that keep this far-flung destination on our when-I-win-the-lottery wish list.
Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera
The Côte d’Azur is known for glitz and glamour, but look beyond its celeb-owned mega-mansions, palm-lined promenades, and flashy international film fests and you’ll find a region of simple charms. We’re talking craggy cliffs, medieval villages, infinite lavender fields, and sun-kissed golden sands.
Algarve Coast, Portugal
The sleepy southern coast of Algarve harbors more than its fair share of Portugal’s enviable golden beaches—Praia da Marinha being the most sought-after. Explore beyond its sandy stretches during a scenic coastal drive to unveil busy fish markets, aromatic orange groves, verdant farm country, and windswept cliffs.
- The Most Romantic Lake Hotels to Spend a Summer Vacation
- 15 Cute Bathing Suits For Your Beach Getaway
- 9 Affordable Beach Vacations in the US