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posted on June 23rd, 2016

Road tripping the coast

Salty air, shimmering waters, and sea stretching as far as the eye can see: North America lays claim to some of the world’s most breathtaking seaside drives, boasting all of these hallmarks and more. Road trip along these curving coastlines to discover a wealth of ocean views, from Florida’s aquamarine seas to the azure Atlantic in Nova Scotia.

US 1, Florida Keys, FL

Above and between strikingly clear turquoise water — the Atlantic on one side, the Gulf on the other — the Overseas Highway takes drivers off the mainland and into a paradise of water sports and beachfront bars beloved by Jimmy Buffett fans everywhere. Traverse the islands from Key Largo to Key West, and do your best to keep your eyes on the road with views of tidal flats and distant islands beckoning. Want to get closer? Visit one of the world-class dive sites along this route to get up close and personal with the coral reefs and colorful marine life.

Road to Hana, Maui, HI

Flanked by verdant greenery and deep blue coastal views, this 52-mile stretch is arguably the most beautiful in all of Hawaii. It’s also not for timid drivers: you’ll encounter hairpin turns, no less than 54 one-lane bridges, and steep cliffs, but with frequent stops to swim below waterfalls and sample local banana bread and shave ice, it’s well worth it.

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Pacific Coast Highway, CA

Otherwise known as CA State Route 1, this highway extends over 655 mils of California coastline. While each stretch has its charms, we’re partial to the central section winding through Big Sur and the surrounding towns. Sandwiched by quaint cities filled with enviable homes and their own claims to beach beauty, Big Sur itself is the star of this drive. This fabled area inspired writers from Henry Miller to Jack Kerouac, and with good reason. Of particular note is McWay Falls, where a dramatic waterfall tumbles directly into the Pacific when conditions are right.

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Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Looping around Cape Breton Island, a counter-clockwise route proffers the most breathtaking ocean vistas. The rugged beauty of the island is best seen with frequent pull-offs to explore the hiking trails, which offer striking views of the stunning greenery that contrast against the deep blue waters. Pick up a keepsake by one of the many local artisans inspired by the beauty of the region, from blown glass to pottery and more.

Oregon Coast Highway 101, OR

Whether sun-soaked or cloaked in clouds, the Pacific Northwest has a beauty all its own. Wind through the old growth forests of Oswald West State Park to be rewarded by views of Cannon Beach, heralded by Haystack Rock, which was made famous by The Goonies in 1981. Don’t miss the Tillamook Cheese Factory for picnic fixings worthy of the views that await you on the Three Capes Scenic Loop, which includes the surfer heaven Pacific City and the Octopus Tree at Cape Meares — a tree just as wildly limbed as its name suggests.

cannon beach

Pack yourself a blanket, chase the sunset, charge bravely into the surf, but don’t miss out on the magnificent coasts this summer.

Virginia is equally enamored with words and globetrotting. Whenever possible, she likes to combine the two through travel writing to help other wanderers discover and fall in love with the world.