Summer time is my favorite time to go for a long drive along the coast. No matter where I plan to go, for me it’s all about the journey, not the destination. During my annual road trips in the USA, I explore the diverse scenic terrain whilst driving alongside the tide of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Here’s my round up of America’s best coastal routes for your next road trip.
Take a Road Trip: Best Coastal Routes in the USA
Maui’s Hana Highway 360 Coastal Road Trip
Hawaii’s most stunning highway spans 52 miles from Kahului. It has over 50 single-lane bridges, roadside waterfalls and spectacular views along the cliff. This rugged and dangerous coastline is only meant for brave souls and also runs through deep jungle valleys with 620 curves. Go for a swim at Hana Beach Park, snorkel at Waianapanapa State Park or venture 10 miles south to Haleakala National Park where you can see the sunrise.
Pacific Coast Highway 1 Coastal Route
Running through Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Mendocino, Highway 1 totals 500 miles. The highlight of the drive is the stretch between San Luis Obispo and Monterey. The inland side is lined with Pine trees while the cliff side overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Attractions include the Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park.
Visit two of America’s best bayside towns Carmel and Monterey Bay. Carmel has lovely art galleries while Monterey Bay Aquarium has diverse aquatic life and the world famous Lone Cypress Tree. Pacific Grove is home to the famous Monarch butterflies and the Pebble Beach Golf Course is along the 17-mile drive. You can also stop at Cannery Row, a vibrant dining and entertaining district.
Outer Banks, North Carolina, Highway 12
This 100-mile drive stretches from Corolla to Ocracoke Village. The coastal landscape starts at the northern end of Highway 12, where the pavement turns into sand at the Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve. You’ll reach the bypass road Route 158 which travels through Kitty Hawk. Follow Route 158 to get back on Highway 12 at Whalebone Junction where you can enter the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Stay on it all the way to Ocracoke Village to take the car ferry from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island. The two-lane route essentially runs straight, crossing beach villas and beautiful views of the Atlantic amid the sand dunes.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Route 6A
Also known as ‘The Old Kings Highway’, Route 6A stretches along quaint resort towns, rural scenery and beautiful Atlantic shorelines. Start your east coast road trip with Alamo car hire and drive along this 160-mile route that begins at Cape Cod Canal and takes you through some of America’s oldest villages. This vintage town is a seafood lover’s heaven and boasts miles of waterfront delicacies at lobster and clam shacks.
Continue along the northern coast until Provincetown, then south to Orleans and further south to Chatham. Head back westward toward the mainland via Hyannis and Falmouth. Attractions along the way include museums and gardens, Nickerson State Park, Cape Cod National Seashore and Yarmouth Port.
U.S. 1 Key Largo to Key West
This overseas highway begins in mainland Florida and extends more than 100 miles southwest into the city of Key West. With 42 bridges, it connects the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. Along the 7-mile bridge you can see under water coral reefs, hand feed tarpon and enjoy burgers and margaritas at beach bars. Fun attractions include snorkeling, fishing and beach resorts. There are also museums, historical forts and national parks along the way.
What is your favorite coastal road trip that you have ever taken?
Guest post by Amna Alam. She is a London-based freelance writer who enjoys travel, film and interior design.