Discovering the Beauty of Coastal Cycling
Cycling along the coast is an adventure like no other. The feeling of the sea breeze on your face, the rhythmic sound of waves crashing against the shore, and the stunning vistas that unfold before you—it’s a sensory experience that every cyclist should indulge in. In this article, I’ll take you on a journey through some of the most breathtaking coastal cycling routes, sharing my personal experiences and tips for making the most of these scenic rides.
Pacific Coast Highway, California, USA
Distance: Approximately 650 miles (1046 kilometers)
Highlights: Big Sur coastline, Redwood National and State Parks, Golden Gate Bridge
My Experience: Cycling along the Pacific Coast Highway was a dream come true. Starting in the bustling city of San Francisco, I pedaled my way along the rugged California coastline, passing through iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge. The real magic, however, began as I entered Big Sur—a stretch of coastline that left me in awe. Towering cliffs, dense forests, and the Pacific Ocean as far as the eye could see made every pedal stroke worth it. The route continues north, taking you through the ancient giants of Redwood National and State Parks, offering a serene and majestic experience.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Distance: Approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers)
Highlights: Dramatic cliffs, charming coastal villages, Mediterranean cuisine
My Experience: The Amalfi Coast is a gem of the Mediterranean, and cycling its winding roads was an unforgettable adventure. Starting in Sorrento, I made my way along the dramatic cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The route is dotted with picturesque villages like Positano and Amalfi, where I took breaks to savor authentic Italian cuisine. The narrow, winding roads can be challenging, but the views of the coastline and the scent of lemon groves make every climb worthwhile.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
Distance: Approximately 150 miles (243 kilometers)
Highlights: Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach, lush rainforests
My Experience: The Great Ocean Road is a coastal cycling paradise that stretches along the southeastern coast of Australia. Starting in Torquay, I embarked on a journey filled with natural wonders. The rugged coastline is home to iconic formations like the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, which I explored on foot during breaks. The road also takes you through lush rainforests, where the sound of bird calls accompanies your ride. And if you’re a surfing enthusiast, don’t miss the famous Bells Beach, where world-class waves beckon.
Cape Town to Cape Point, South Africa
Distance: Approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers)
Highlights: Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Point Nature Reserve, Boulders Beach (home to African penguins)
Experience: This coastal route near Cape Town offers a mix of breathtaking views and wildlife encounters. The journey takes you along Chapman’s Peak Drive, a road carved into the cliffs, offering panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. As you pedal toward Cape Point, you’ll enter the Cape Point Nature Reserve, where fynbos-covered hills meet the ocean. Don’t forget to visit Boulders Beach to observe adorable African penguins up close.
The Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
Distance: Approximately 120 miles (193 kilometers)
Highlights: Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle
Experience: Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route is a coastal cycling adventure steeped in history and natural wonder. Starting in Belfast or Londonderry, you’ll pass through charming coastal villages and rugged cliffs. The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-see with its otherworldly hexagonal basalt columns. Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and exploring the ruins of Dunluce Castle add an extra layer of intrigue to this coastal journey.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada
Distance: Varies (multiple routes available)
Highlights: Indigenous culture, lush rainforests, abundant wildlife
Experience: Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is a remote and pristine archipelago off the coast of British Columbia. While there isn’t a single defined route, cyclists can explore a network of scenic roads and trails. This area is rich in indigenous culture, with totem poles and art galleries to discover. The lush rainforests and abundant wildlife, including bald eagles and black bears, make for a truly immersive coastal experience. Keep in mind that ferry rides are required to access the islands, so plan accordingly.
These additional coastal cycling routes offer a diverse range of landscapes, cultural experiences, and natural wonders, making them ideal destinations for cyclists seeking adventure along the world’s beautiful coastlines. Each journey promises unforgettable memories and a deep connection with the coastal environments they traverse.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
Distance: Approximately 111 miles (179 kilometers)
Highlights: Cliffs of Kerry, Killarney National Park, quaint Irish villages
My Experience: Cycling the Ring of Kerry in Ireland was a journey through a postcard-perfect landscape. Starting in Killarney, I pedaled through the scenic Killarney National Park, surrounded by lush greenery and serene lakes. The route then takes you along the rugged cliffs of Kerry, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes against the rocks below. Quaint Irish villages like Sneem and Cahersiveen provided opportunities to immerse myself in the local culture and enjoy a hearty meal. This coastal route encapsulates the beauty of Ireland’s southwest.
The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Distance: Varies (from a few miles to hundreds of miles)
Highlights: Dubrovnik, historic towns, crystal-clear Adriatic waters
My Experience: The Dalmatian Coast in Croatia offers diverse coastal cycling experiences. I began in the historic city of Dubrovnik, where ancient city walls and limestone streets create a unique atmosphere. From there, I had the flexibility to choose different routes, each offering its own charm. The Adriatic Sea’s crystal-clear waters and numerous islands make for stunning views along the way. Whether you opt for a short ride or a multi-day tour, the Dalmatian Coast will leave you enchanted.
Tips for Coastal Cycling Adventures
Now that you’ve glimpsed the beauty of these coastal cycling routes, here are some essential tips for planning your own seaside adventure:
1. Check the Weather
Coastal weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for changing conditions. Pack appropriate clothing and rain gear, and keep an eye on the forecast.
2. Plan Your Accommodations
Research and book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Consider staying in coastal towns and villages to immerse yourself in the local culture.
3. Stay Hydrated
Cycling along the coast can be hot and dehydrating. Carry plenty of water and replenish at regular intervals.
4. Respect the Environment
Coastal areas are often fragile ecosystems. Stay on designated paths, dispose of your trash properly, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
5. Embrace the Journey
Take your time to enjoy the views, explore coastal towns, and interact with locals. Coastal cycling is not just about the destination; it’s about the experiences along the way.
Exploring coastal cycling routes is a delightful way to combine your love for cycling with a deep appreciation for the beauty of our planet’s coastlines. These journeys offer a unique blend of physical challenge, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. Whether you choose to pedal along the rugged cliffs of Ireland, the sun-soaked roads of California, or the enchanting paths of Croatia, the memories and experiences will stay with you long after the ride is over. So, gear up, saddle in, and embark on your own coastal cycling adventure—it’s a journey you won’t want to miss.