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World’s Best Coastal Walks and Beach Trails
Can’t decide between an invigorating multi-day hike and a relaxing trip to the beach? You don’t have to! With these five coastal treks, you can combine your passions—and experience some of the world’s most spectacular waterfront scenery.
Shaded forests and mountain trails are cool places for summer treks—but to truly take advantage of surf, sun and spectacular views, you’ll have to move your hike to the coast. That’s where you can explore a destination’s coastline and watch the waves crash onto the shore against unique rock formations and sandy beaches. To help you get acquainted with the world’s most beautiful seaside treks, we’re spotlighting these five can’t miss trails.
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Britain
Beginning in St Dogmaels, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path traverses along 186 miles (229 Kilometers of breathtaking coastal scenery and winds through Britain’s only coastal national park. The trek allows you to take in almost every kind of maritime scenery, passing along 70 bathing beaches as well as winding estuaries, secluded coves and rugged mountains. The scenery is enhanced by vibrant coastal flowers, an array of bird life and even historical forts and castles. As the hike can be challenging with 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) of ascent and descent (it takes an estimated 10 to 15 days to complete) it can be broken up into manageable sections by taking breaks at some the charming coastal villages that line the trail. If you plan to do the whole trek, make sure you’re prepared with necessary gear (we recommend the Rincon 65 Liter Travel Pack). Its Contour Fit Suspension System helps you stay comfortable, while full front panel loading, interior and exterior compression straps and numerous pockets keep you organized and allow you fit your necessary gear.
Best time to visit: June – August (the summer dry season)
Bondi To Coogee Walk, Australia
As a moderate four-mile (6.5 kilometer) coastal cliff hike, the supremely popular Bondi to Coogee Walk in metropolitan Sydney allows you to explore the two namesake beaches as well as Tamarama, Clovelly and Bronte beaches. While the trek takes you along mostly coastline for aerial beach and bay views from cliffs, you’ll also pass unique rock formations, an unusual cemetery studded with palm trees, public art displays, a public playground and nearby suburban communities. Allow about two hours to complete the trek (lots of other walkers and sightseeing make for slower going). At Coogee, you can go for a swim in the sparkling waters or relax with a drink at the adjacent Coogee Bay Hotel. If you still have more energy to spark, continue on to Maroubra Beach, which adds about 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) to the hike.
Best time to visit: Sept – December (Spring) and late Feb – April (Autumn). While Sydney gets 340 days of sunshine per year, summers can be pretty hot!
Cinque Terre “Five Lands” Hike, Italy
Cinque Terre, in Italy’s Liguria region, is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. To experience the flavor of these seaside villages while taking in the beauty of the Italian Riviera, hike the 7.5-mile (12 kilometer) Sentiero Azzurro or “Light Blue Trail” connecting the villages. Each section presents a unique coastal experience or challenge, for example, between Riomaggiore and Manarola is called the Love Walk due to the placement of whimsical benches, “love padlock” fences and overall romantic ambiance. The walk takes you past olive and lemon groves, grapevines, beautiful beaches and colorful towns where you can take a rest and enjoy some authentic Italian fare. While the hike can be difficult at times due to uneven terrain and steep ascents, the natural beauty makes it worth it. Keep in mind: sections of the trail may be closed at certain times due to landslides and natural disasters. If this is the case, don’t be dismayed, as alternative routes are usually available. Note: You must pay a fee to hike this trail, which can be done the day of your hike (Monday-Friday one day permit card: 5 Euros)
Best time to visit: Late April – Early June and September - October (you’ll avoid the peak tourist season and the hottest days)
Lycian Way Coastal Walk, Turkey
Turkey’s Lycian Way Coastal Walk (316-miles/508 kilometers), which avoids heavily touristed areas, immerses trekkers in the beauty of untouched Mediterranean Turkey. Running along the Lycian coast, the trail begins in Fethiye in the west and heads toward the mountain village of Hisarçandır in Antalya in the east. Because of its length (an estimated 25 days), rugged terrain and the many ascents and descents along the way, the hike is graded as medium to hard. However, scenery is worth the work: Along with views of rugged mountains, canyons, Mediterranean coastline and cedar woodland, hikers can view castles and ruins of Lycian, Greek and Roman cities—adding some history to the experience. While you can camp along the way without having to worry about paying fees or obtaining a permit, many of the cities and towns lining the trail offer hotel and pension accommodation. Bonus: The mild temperatures of the area mean this trail also makes for a comfortable hike even in the winter months.
Best time to visit: April – May and September to October (these are Turkey’s most temperate months)
Hana-Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, Hawaii
In Maui you’ll find one of the world’s most beautiful coastal treks, the Hana-Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, which is four to five miles (around 7 to 8 kilometers) long and can be enjoyed by people of all levels of physical fitness. What makes this coastal trail so worthwhile is its unique scenery featuring jagged lava coastline, caves, sea arches, black rock beaches, steep cliffs, ancient temples and dramatic colors. The hike follows a portion of the King’s Highway, a lava road constructed in the mid-1800s, beginning in Pailoa Bay in Waianapanapa State Park and continuing to Kainalimu Bay.
Best time to visit: May – September (this is Hawaii’s driest season, so trails will be easy to navigate)
Wild Coast Hiking Trail, South Africa
Part of the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, the Wild Coast Hiking Trail meanders for 174 miles (280 kilometers) and takes just under a month to complete. If you don’t have that much time don’t worry, as the trail is divided into more manageable three to six day sections. As they travel, trekkers will view sandy and rocky beaches, secluded coves, ford estuaries, rugged cliffs, lagoons, mangrove swamps, unique rock formations and an array of wildlife, especially birds. To add some culture to the trek, take time to stop at the villages that line the coastal trail and hang out with the locals. Note: Permits from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry are required. Bookings can be made up to 11 months in advance. For more information, click here.
Best time to visit: February and March (summer in the Southern Hemisphere)
Have fun and remember to check the ocean tides before you hit the trail.
Jessica Festa, a New York native, is a world traveler who is always looking for a new adventure. She stays active through hiking, cycling, and dance and loves nothing more than her backpack. Follow her travels around the world at Jessie on a Journey and at Epicure & Culture.