We love the ocean. And we’re passionate hikers. No wonder that we easily fall for amazing coastal trails in any part of the world.
While reflecting on our travels together in the past 7 years, we’ve already shared our 7 favorite European old towns with you. And now we can’t help sharing some of our very favorite hiking trails in the world! Coastal trails this time. Why? Because coastal trails are usually so scenic, anyway. A lot of them are not that strenuous either (okay, some of them are…). And they often offer pretty beach stops on the way.
So let’s see the best of them we’ve found so far:
Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
Hawaii is special. Kauai, its oldest island was one of the most fabulous places we’ve ever been to. Including the countless hiking trails it offers. Our favorite trail is obvious though: Kalalau Trail along Na Pali Coast. With its towering sea cliffs and pinnacles, narrow, lush green valleys, turquoise bays and enormous waterfalls, Na Pali Coast is among the most beautiful coastlines in the whole world. It redefines the meaning of green and turquoise.
Your best opportunity for swimming and snorkeling is probably Ke’e Beach. It’s right at the trailhead, so you can have a swim either before or after the hike (or both).
Even though Kalalau Trail is a multi-day hike, we did part of it – a stunning part – as a day hike. Read our hiking guide about it here!
Coastal Track, Noosa National Park, Queensland, Australia
A different part of the world, but again an amazing feast of colors: the Coastal Track in Queensland’s Noosa National Park. It’s quite an easy, almost flat walk that you could comfortably do within half a day. But it rewarded us with amazing coastal views, turquoise bays and perfectly sandy beaches. Some are not protected enough to go swimming, but some could be. And Noosa Main Beach, a protected and patrolled bay is right at the trailhead.
Also, one of the best swimming holes in Australia is along the Coastal Track: the Fairy Pools.
Read our guide to Noosa National Park here!
Seven Hanging Valleys Walk, Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal
But you don’t need to go as far as the tropics to find unique coastal views and wonderful colors. Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal offers exactly those. Our favorite coastal walk there is called the “Seven Hanging Valleys Walk”. This trail runs on the top of the cliffs and rewards with views of the limestone rock formations, caves, arches and emerald green bays.
Oh, and most of those bays are accessible from the trail, and they’re great for swimming. We blame them for not having time to actually finish this trail. 😛
The trailhead is at Praia da Marinha, one of our favorite beaches in the world. (It’s worth spending a whole day just on this beach, by the way.) The walk is about 6 kilometres one-way and takes you to Praia de Vale Centianes. It should be a comfortable day hike – unless you constantly stop for a swim at those picturesque beaches on the way. The temptation for that will be strong. 😀
Tomales Point Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, USA
We can’t talk about breathtaking coastlines and not mention California. California coast is dear to our hearts, and it’s among the most varied and wonderful coastlines on the planet. It’s especially hard for us to pick a favorite coastal trail there since we did so many during that year we’ve spent in California. But Point Reyes National Seashore is one of our favorite places to go hiking on the coast. It’s a not so well-known, unspoilt area with countless scenic trails.
Our favorite one is Tomales Point Trail. It leads along the ridge crest of a narrow peninsula which means breathtaking ocean vistas all the way. In addition to that there’s another reason to fall for this trail: wildlife. As it passes the Tule Elk Preserve, you have a very high chance to bump into herds of tule elks on your way. (We did, several times…) And Tomales Point, the end of the trail is a great spot for watching seabirds and seals.
It’s a 15 kilometres round-trip hike – just the perfect length for a comfortable day hike.
Read our hiking guide about Point Reyes National Seashore here!
Coastal Track, Royal National Park, New South Wales, Australia
Another gem from Australia, from a national park that’s just a stone’s throw from Sydney: the Coastal Track of Royal National Park runs at the top of high coastal cliffs for the most part. It gives access to exciting rock formations (like the famous Wedding Cake Rock), amazing beaches and tidal pools (like the Figure 8 Pools, the photographers’ favorite). Most of the beaches on the way are not protected enough for swimming though, waves are large and currents are strong. Wattamolla Beach is the exception. In addition, there’s a lagoon behind this beach that’s calm and shallow enough even for children.
The Coastal Track starts in Bundeena and ends in Otford. It’s 26 kilometres one-way, so it’s hardly a day hike. We did about half of the track as a day hike though: the section between Bundeena and Wattamolla Beach.
Read our hiking guide about Royal National Park here!
Látrabjarg, Westfjords, Iceland
Iceland amazed us with its unique natural beauties. Of course, we have a favorite coastal hike there: the trail that runs on top of the high cliffs of Látrabjarg in the Westfjords. Even though the giant, steep cliffs themselves are impressive, the real highlight for us was bird-watching.
Countless seabirds nest at Látrabjarg, including the cutest ones: puffins! Puffins usually prefer smaller islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and Látrabjarg is among those rare spots in Iceland where they can be seen.
We’re not sure how long the official trail is. There’s a path running at the edge of the high cliffs, and we followed that for several kilometres. After a couple of hours we turned back so that we can continue our road trip along the Westfjords.
Slieve League Cliffs, County Donegal, Ireland
Slieve League Cliffs (Sliabh Liag as they call them in Irish) impressed us even more than the famous Cliffs of Moher. Rising above 600 metres, they’re Ireland’s highest sea cliffs. The path along the coast rewarded us with terrific views of the ocean, the surrounding Sligo Mountains and Donegal Bay.
The first section of this path leads from the parking lot to a viewpoint on a paved road. Even though you can drive to the viewpoint, it’s worth walking instead, because you have more time to take in the views then (and take lots of pictures). From the viewpoint, a narrow, steep hiking trail continues along the coastline. Needless to say, those wonderful views are worth the effort. We could also say that we experienced every possible weather condition during this hike (well, except snow… but there was sunshine, wind, fog, drizzle and thunderstorm within half a day). It was an unforgettable and typical Irish day.
What are your favorite coastal trails? We can’t wait to hear about them!
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