According to Buzzfeed, good old Cape Town has not 1, not 2… BUT 3 of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world are in Western Cape, with their number 1 and 2 being from Cape Town. Now you know why so many car adverts and launches happen here.
Here are the 12 via Buzzfeed:
12. THE ATLANTIC OCEAN ROAD: NORWAY
A spectacular road above Norway’s Atlantic coast. It connects Møre og Romsdal county to the Romsdal Peninsula and various small islands by a series of bridges. The most famous of all these is probably the Storseisundet Bridge which, when viewed from certain angles, contorts dramatically above the ocean.
11. OREGON COAST ON HIGHWAY 1: USA
The Northern Section of Route 101 slices through beautiful evergreen forests and next to one of the world’s most loved coasts. Spots like Cape Sebastian and the famous Haystack Rock that erupts Two hundred and thirty five feet above Cannon Beach make the coast unique and there are few better ways to enjoy it than from the road.
10. GREAT OCEAN DRIVE: AUSTRALIA
The road between Alansford and Torquay in Australia encompasses gorgeous coastal views of the Pacific, none of which are more famous or beautiful than the limestone stacks known as ‘The Twelve Apostles’. The road is divided into sections known as the Surf Coast and Shipwreck Coast. The drive is arguably at its most dramatic near Geelong, where it straddles the steepest section of the coast.
9. HĀNA HIGHWAY: HAWAII, USA
The road between Kahului and Hāna is one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the USA. You have to go pretty slow on the sixty eight mile route, because it has roughly six hundred and twenty curves and crosses fifty nine bridges, forty six of which are only single lane! The gorgeous views of the warm Pacific Ocean right next to you, and lush tropical vegetation on the other side make all of the effort well worth it though! Just past Hāna one can enjoy Ohe’o Gulch, a wonderful series of pools and waterfalls also known as the ‘Seven Sacred Pools’.
8. GARDEN ROUTE: SOUTH AFRICA
A breathtaking stretch of road that wends in between mountain ranges, lakes, forests and coast, this is a major tourist attraction in South Africa. Beautiful coastal towns include Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Nature’s Valley. The section of the drive known as ‘The Tsitsikamma’ is one of the most beautiful sections of the drive and is famous for a hiking route known as ‘The Otter Trail’.
7. BIG SUR: CALIFORNIA, USA
An absolutely iconic drive, this section of the Californian coast is where the Santa Anna mountains collapse into the Pacific Ocean along Highway One. Famous sights along the coastal stretch include Point Lobos (called ‘The Greatest Meeting of Land and Water in the World’ by Landscape artist Francis McComas), Carmel, Monterrey and the incredibly photogenic Bixby Bridge. The road winds through beautiful Californian forests, including coastal redwood trees, and the beaches and coves along the route are gorgeous. McWay Cove is famous for a waterfall that empties directly into the Ocean.
6. COROMANDEL PENINSULA: NEW ZEALAND
A magnificent stretch of coast on the North Island of New Zealand, the Coromandel Peninsula is a world famous drive for obvious reasons. It separates the Pacific Ocean from the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames. The Coromandel Range acts as a spine in the middle of the peninsula, rising to two thousand nine hundred and twenty seven feet at Mount Moehau. White sand beaches and native forest, together with scenes like ‘Cathedral Cove’, make the drive stunningly beautiful. Getting to the amazing ‘Hot Water Beach’ is a must do.
5. MAGISTRALA, DALMATIAN COAST: CROATIA
Croatia’s scenic highlight is produced by the contrast of the Dinaric Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The region consists of many islands including Brač, Korčula, Mljet, Hvar, and Pašman. Driving the Adriatic Road, as the Magistrala is also known, is a must do, not least of which because it passes the famous towns of Dubrovnik and Split.
The former city is justifiably famous for not only its beautiful location but its beautiful architecture. It is one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. Driving through it while traveling along the mountainous and crystalline coastal road, famous for some of Europe’s clearest water, is an unexpected additional delight.
4. CORSICA COAST ROAD, CORSICA: FRANCE
France’s magnificent island is easily traversed by a route several hundred miles long, which takes in the splendor of this Mediterranean jewel. Possibly the most famous part is around the peninsula of Cap Corse, though many argue that the Gulf of Porto is the most beautiful of all. In truth, the island is strewn with so much beauty it is hard to select the finest stretch.
Saleccia is a startling white sand beach, and the beach at stunningly shaped Rondinara Bay is frequently named the most beautiful in Europe. Ajaccio is a gorgeous town, probably most famous as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, though probably not as startling as Bonifacio, which is built atop a narrow natural cliff. It’s not without reason that the Ancient Greeks named the Island ‘Kallisté’, meaning ‘The Most Beautiful’, and the road that traverses it is worthy of such an epithet too.
3. AMALFI COAST: ITALY
Italy’s most famous coast is justifiably famous for having one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The Strada Statale 163, as the road is more formally known, connects Sorrento with Salerno, passing through gorgeous towns including Positano, Praiano, Ravello and the eponymous Amalfi. All of these are perched atop cliffs which step back like huge natural terraces until they reach the peaks of the Lattari Mountains, at one point over four thousand feet in height.
When driving the most dramatic section of all, between Positano and Ravello, take a moment to glance back West toward ‘Santiero Degli Dei’, ‘the walk of the Gods’. This refers to arguably the single most stunning view on the drive, where the various heads of land making up the Sorrentine Peninsula thunder into the Mediterranean Sea.
The addition of agricultural terraces containing fragrant orange and lemon groves and old architecture such as Positano’s Santa Maria Assunto or Ravello’s Villa Cimbrone make this one of the most beautiful places in the world and one of the most astonishing places to drive. It’s hard to imagine anything more beautiful than the ‘Costiera Amalfitani’.
2. CHAPMAN’S PEAK AND THE CAPE PENINSULA: SOUTH AFRICA
Then, one heads to Africa and finds the utterly breathtaking Chapman’s Peak along the Cape Peninsula Drive. The whole drive from Cape Town down to Cape Point and back on the other side of the peninsula is around eighty miles of some of the most jaw dropping ocean scenery in the world.
On the road one passes magnificent sights including Five Mile Beach, the towns of Kommetjie, Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, and legendary ones such as Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostle Mountain Range, the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. The point itself is a needle of cliffs collapsing into the Atlantic at the South Western Extreme of the African continent. Many people believe Cape Point to be the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, especially as its Eastern waters are an average of ten degrees warmer than those to its West and sometimes over twenty. However this distinction technically belongs to Cape Agulhas located just over one hundred miles further to the East.
Of the eighty miles of driving on this route, the six which make up Chapman’s Peak Drive itself are almost certainly the most astonishing, in fact it offers probably the most impressive ocean cliff driving in the world. The road twists and turns over one hundred times in this short section of driving, high above the ocean on top of smooth granite cliffs which slip abruptly into the deep blue water of the Atlantic. Above the road, bright coloured sedimentary rocks, mostly orange, lie in bands that stretch hundreds of additional meters skywards. The road is in fact so steep at this point that a section had to be hacked out of the sheer cliff face, to make traversing the mountains possible at all. Initially the engineering work of the road was regarded as impossible, and when completed in 1922 after seven years of construction it was universally regarded as an engineering masterpiece. It is without question one of the most beautiful drives on Earth.
1. CLARENS DRIVE: SOUTH AFRICA
One would think you’d have to go pretty far to find a drive even more stunning than Chapman’s Peak, but in fact you only need head around thirty miles east. Here one finds Clarens Drive, less exotically known as the R44 by locals. This road follows the spectacular thirty mile stretch of coast between Gordon’s Bay and Kleinmond along what is known as False Bay.
Though the road itself, at around five hundred feet at its crest, is not as high as Chapman’s Peak, Amalfi’s Strada Statale or Highway One on the Big Sur, it is the sheer scale of the mountains above the road which immediately arrests the senses. At one stage a single spur of mountains over ten miles in length is visible – from Hangklip, ‘The Hanging Rock’, through to Kogelberg which is over four thousand feet in height. Like Chapman’s peak, but unlike the other mountainous drives featured on this list, the mountains do not ascend in relatively gradual steps, but instead reach their full height uninterruptedly in sheer cliffs. The visual effect of this wall of rock above the road is astonishing.
While driving below this wall, one can view the Cape Peninsula which terminates in Cape Point thirty miles to the West across the bay. The area is naturally pristine, with nothing along the most spectacular section of the coast save for a camping ground and tidal pool on a stunning two mile white sand beach that glows golden at sunset. The whole coast belongs to the Kogelberg Biosphere reserve, a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom which is the most species dense of all the world’s Plant Kingdoms. With about one thousand six hundred plant species found in barely ten square miles, the area Clarens Drive passes through contains a floral diversity per unit area that is greater than anywhere else on the planet. The area is also home to a vast array of wildlife including Cape Leopards, African Weasels, African Wild Cats, Caracals (African Lynxes), Small and Large-Spotted Genets, Cape Foxes, Aardwolfs, Baboons, Cape Clawless Otters, Water Mongooses, Small and Large Grey Mongooses, Striped Polecats, Honey Badgers, Porcupines, Rock Hyraxes, Red Rock Rabbits, Cape and Scrub Hares, Klipspringers, Cape Grysboks, Common Duikers, Grey Rhebucks, and even Bushbucks. The drive is the beginning of ‘The Whale Coast’, which is generally regarded as the best place in the world to view whales from shore.
The sight of the giant cetaceans in the vivid blue, aquamarine and green colored waters, below the towering cliffs and mountains and with the profusion of Proteas, Ericas and other plant species that flank the road, make Clarens Drive a nonpareil. Its beauty even exceeds that of its stunning and more famous sister drive, Chapman’s Peak and Peninsula.
So there you have it, 3 Of The Most Beautiful Coastal Drives in the World Are In Cape Town! Well done team Cape Town and SA!