Great Coastal Drives

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Easter Island This island's south coastal road skirts the Pacific Ocean, taking you past the best of the moai, the mysterious stone heads that stand up to 40 feet tall and still baffle anthropologists.
Courtesy Turismo Chile
Easter Island Just off the island's south coastal road is Rano Raraku, a quarry where some of the moai lie resting.
Courtesy Turismo Chile
Easter Island The ocean view from Rano Raraku, off the island's south coastal road.
Courtesy Turismo Chile
Hawaii Maui's Hana Highway is a narrow, zigzagging road with more than 600 curves, many of them turn-on-a-dime switchbacks; most of the 54 bridges along the route are single lane.
Courtesy Maui Visitors Bureau
Hawaii The Hana Highway is named for the unassuming town of Hana. Once there, swim at Hana Beach Park, snorkel at Wai'anapanapa State Park, or leap from nearby Wailua Falls, a 200-foot waterfall from which, it is rumored, local men used to jump to prove their manhood.
Courtesy Maui Visitors Bureau
Hawaii Maui's Hana Highway passes rain forests packed with breadfruit trees and colorful plumeria and torch ginger flowers, and black-sand beaches, like this one.
Iceland Ring Road—the island-circling, 830-mile Highway 1—has views of a landscape literally formed by fire and ice. This shot is from Reykjavík, a good place to begin the drive.
Iceland Vík, a small town off Ring Road. From here, the road goes inland on the way to Skaftafell National Park and Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull.
Ireland Often considered the most scenic stretch of road in the British Isles, the Causeway Coastal Route meanders almost the entire length of Northern Ireland's coast.
Ireland Along the Causeway Coastal Route, a must-see is the cluster of hexagonal stones that make up Giant's Causeway—a perfectly orderly but naturally occurring rock formation.
Courtesy Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Ireland Carrick-a-Rede, a vertigo-inducing 66-foot-long rope bridge that connects the mainland to the rocky Carrick Island, is a popular stop on the Causeway Coastal Route.
Courtesy Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Norway At five miles, the Atlantic Road is short, but it includes eight bridges that hopscotch from one island to the next, sometimes curving midway through a span in ways that make them seem to defy gravity.
Norway On the Atlanterhavsveien, or Atlantic Road, you might spot seals and, occasionally, minke whales close to shore. Many people visit in autumn, when storms that lash the coast add a touch of drama.
Sweden On the western coast route, drive past orderly fishing villages where you can sample mackerel, herring, smoked eel, and the region's other delicacies.
Courtesy West Sweden Tourist Board
Sweden Marstrand, reachable by ferry from the western coast route.
Courtesy diluvi/Flickr
Spain The 17th-century Church of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, in Sitges, a must-see stop on the Costa del Garraf. This elegant resort town also has a long strand of beaches.
Alan Copson/JAI/Corbis
Australia The Great Ocean Road, a classic coastal route, is only about 60 miles from Melbourne.
Courtesy Tourism Australia
Australia The Great Ocean Road is most famous for the Twelve Apostles, huge pillars of limestone rising from the surf.
Courtesy Tourism Australia
Italy Positano, along the Amalfi Coast. This route threads through towns clinging to seaside cliffs, old-fashioned fishing villages, and vineyards that climb steep hillsides.
California Highway 1 passes through some of the country's most beautiful (and most expensive) beachfront real estate. It's hard to pick a favorite part of the drive, but the dramatic scenery around Big Sur is unforgettable.
Robert Glusic/Corbis

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