Mar 29, 2019

High Tide: The Most Beautiful Coastlines

There’s something so unspeakably beautiful about the interaction between land, sea, and sky. It has the undeniable effect of making us feel small, caught between the massive forces of earth, water, and air. If you thrive on these kinds of experiences and enjoy the smell of the ocean with the wind at your back, these coastlines are the perfect vacation spot for you. Many of them are so unique that they’ve inspired countless works of art, dedicated to their exceptional beauty.

  • The huge jutting cliffs of the Nā Pali coastline, which line the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, are one of the most interesting sights of this volcanic island archipelago. The area stretches for 6,175 acres. In an effort to preserve the unique biodiversity and structure of the Kalalau Valley, the coast is protected as part of a state park, which makes up the bulk of the area around the coast.

    It’s illegal to drive through the state park. So, if you want to see the unbelievable cliffs that make up the vast coastline, you’ll have to hike in or see it from the air in a helicopter.

  • One of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay, the coastline where the Quang Ninh province meets the South China Sea. Along the bay, there are thousands of scattered islands and limestone karsts dripping with foliage — giving the impression of a floating forest.

    The area is populated with hundreds of floating households who fish the pristine waters of the bay and make their homes in brightly colored boats. There are many hotels spread along the shoreline, and once you arrive, you can participate in an overnight bay cruise, go fishing, or head out on a dolphin spotting excursion.

  • On the western coast of Iceland, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the perfect encapsulation of the Icelandic experience. Within this small area, you can find mountains, waterfalls, lava fields, caves, and even minuscule fishing villages that lie inland from the massive coastline cliffs. Where the North Atlantic Ocean meets the land, you’ll find all manner of interesting coastal features, like the Lóndrangar Basalt Cliffs, as well as the black sand beaches of Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík.

    If you only have a small amount of time to get to know Iceland, this region should be the first stop on your journey. Plus, it’s also less than two hours from Reykjavik.

  • The magnificent Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone stacks that have formed off the coast of Victoria, Australia. Their proximity to the coast, and to each other, have made them one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. Although there are technically only eight of the formerly twelve Apostles left since they’re continually affected by erosion, they’re zealously protected by the government of Australia, who created the Twelve Apostles National Park to stop potentially damaging tourist activity. Now, visitors are encouraged to book helicopter flights if they want to see the stacks up close.

    The limestone cliffs that flank the Twelve Apostles are also spectacular. Also, the road to the rock stacks along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne is extremely scenic.

  • One of the most otherworldly places in the ecologically-diverse state of California is Big Sur, a mountainous section of coastline between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon. The 71-mile section of California State Route 1 is considered one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the United States.

    If you want to make the drive, be aware that natural hazards like rock falls and mudslides often affect the road conditions. However, if you can manage to make the drive, you’ll be treated to the sight of multiple white sand beaches at the foot of the dramatic Santa Lucia Mountain Range.

  • Many people consider the Skeleton Coast of Namibia to be the “end of the Earth” — and it’s easy to see why. The bleak shoreline, which stretches for 310 miles between the city of Swakopmund and the Angola-Namibia border, is actively protected by the Namibian government because the terrain and ecosystem are so delicate. Therefore, only around 800 visitors per year are allowed into the northern section, which stretches between the Hoanib and Kunene rivers.

    If you’re lucky enough to get a permit, you’ll be able to see the vast oceans of dunes that meet the water and explore the various wrecks that are slowly being bleached by the sun.

  • The island of Staffa in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides has always been considered an otherworldly place by its many famous visitors, who have been pouring on to the small island since it was first written about by explorer Sir Joseph Banks in 1772. After that, visitors started coming from all over the world to explore the basalt columns that make up most of the coastline. The most famous area of the island is Fingal’s Cave, a 65-foot cave made up of hexagonal basaltic columns. To visit the island, you’ll need to take a ferry from a neighboring island.

  • Another area that offers a picture of the country in miniature is the Lofoten Islands, a rocky island chain located on the northern coast of Norway where you can find rocky, snow-capped mountains that stretch for miles above the scenic fjords. Even though it’s located in northern Norway, the warm Gulf Stream ensures that the temperature is relatively mild all year round. While you’re visiting, you can take part in plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and skiing, then cozy up with a warm beverage under the Northern Lights.

  • In the northern part of the Salerno Gulf lies the Amalfi Coast, a 31-mile stretch of land along the Tyrrhenian Sea. This picturesque area is rocky and wooded, but somehow villages have managed to develop, clinging to the steep cliffs along the water. The most well-known towns of the Amalfi Coast are Positano, Tramonti, and Amalfi, which is particularly known for its candy-colored houses that sit above the busy harbor. Although the region is naturally beautiful, many people come for the cuisine, and spectacular monuments and historical sites like the ancient Roman villa in Minori or the ninth century Amalfi Cathedral.

  • The area of Dover coastline that faces France has been given the nickname “The White Cliffs of Dover” because of its incredible color. The chalk and flint cliffs are almost entirely white, which contrasts beautifully with the verdant grass above and the waters of the English Channel. The cliffs stretch for eight miles and are over 350 feet high.

    The cliffs have always been a popular English icon and can be seen all the way from France on a clear day. The region has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for years, but the protection of this area first began with the foundation of the Dover Museum in 1836.

  • Located in the Tiznit province of southern Morocco, Legzira Beach regularly attracts visitors who come to marvel at the stone arches that stretch between the cliffside and water. There used to be two arches, but one of the collapsed in 2016. It’s likely that the last remaining arch will soon collapse because of wind erosion and constant wave action.

    The remaining arch is located 12 miles south of the town of Mirleft. During low tide, it’s possible for visitors to walk down to the beach and explore the area under the arch itself.

  • Cinque Terre, which translates to “Five Lands” in English, is an area of coastline in the Italian region of Liguria that encompasses five small towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The ancient cliffs are covered in sweet-smelling wild herbs and provide the perfect vantage point to look out over the waters of the Mediterranean if you want to walk the paths between each town.

    They’re only a few miles apart, so it’s a doable excursion. The hiking trails along the coast are some of the best in the world. Plus, you get the benefit of being able to sit down to some of the best food and drink at the end of your scenic hike.

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