Off the Beaten Path: 5 Coastal Hikes Around the World
Of course it’s relaxing to spend the day lying under the sun on a sandy beach, but what’s travelling without a little adventure? Coastal hikes are a great way to explore the seaside and surrounding shores. We’re sharing 5 coastal hikes that offer breathtaking sea views over diverse terrains.
Cap Ferrat – Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
Cap Ferrat – the “horseshoe” cape – is a small peninsula stretching 4 kilometres into the Mediterranean Sea. Although Cap Ferrat is often forgone for nearby Nice, this destination is not to be missed on your trip to the French Riviera. The peninsula is a tranquil paradise. In the summer months, a warm breeze carries scents of maritime pines and sea salt, while manicured gardens and tall cypresses conceal luxury villas.
The trail – primarily narrow and flat – unfolds along the coast, just a few meters above the crashing waves. But this hike offers more than a view over the vastness of the open sea; hikers will be surprised by its variety of landscapes.
The small fishing village and eucalyptus forest at the trailhead is followed by a rugged, lunar landscape facing south to the open sea (avoid this part in the hottest hours). The landscape changes as the trail turns northwest, where a quiet, romantic bay (the dream of any painter) welcomes hikers. Along the way, numerous rocky inlets offer a private escape for a bite to eat or a dip in the sea. The path comes to an end at a sandy beach edging crystal clear, “Caribbean-blue” water.
Length: 5.9 km (3.6 mi) loop
Elevation: 60 m (197 ft)
Time: 2 hours
Trailhead: Town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The Seven Sisters – Seaford, England
The beauty of this hike in the South of England lies in its contrasts. As hikers approach the cliffs, a wide path meanders through the idyllic coast of East Sussex. To the left are the chalk hills of the South Downs and fields dotted with farms and sheep.
All eyes will fall on the imposing, wind-swept cliffs as hikers first reach sight of the Seven Sisters. Here, the trail becomes a boundary between the green pastures and the whitish-grey blur of cliffs and sea. Heading east, visitors will encounter the highly photographed Coastguard Cottages and can continue on for stunning views from high above the English Channel. Hikers also have the chance to reward themselves with a well-deserved pint at the Tiger Inn, where the harsh lashes of the wind become just a memory of the day’s hike.
Length: 6.4 km (4 mi) return or 9.2 km (5.7 mi) loop
Elevation: 100-200 m (950 – 1,330 ft)
Time: 2 hours
Trailhead: Just outside the town of Seaford
The Skyline Trail – Cape Breton, Canada
This spectacular trail is one of many in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Walk the looped trail through quiet meadows and find yourself at a boardwalk high above the Gulf of St. Lawrence. From here, hikers are rewarded with an incredible view of the Nova Scotia coast diving into the Atlantic Ocean. To the left, the famous Cabot Trail weaves precariously along the mountain edge.
Animal lovers take note: bring your binoculars. Minke whales, humpback whales, harbour seals, harp seals, fin whales, sei whales, white-sided dolphins, and many other aquatic animals have been spotted in the ocean below. If visiting in September, be sure to join in on the celebrations of the Highlands festival, a 10 day hiking festival in Northern Cape Breton.
Length: 7.5 km (4.7 mi) return or 9.2 km (5.7 mi) loop
Elevation: 290 – 405 m (950 – 1,330 ft)
Time: 3 hours
Trailhead: The Cabot Trail highway at the top of French Mountain
Crescent Beach Hike – Oregon, USA
Beginning at Ecola Point, take a few moments before the hike to photograph Haystack Rock and Cape Falcon to the south and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse to the north. From here, follow the trail signs along Ecola Park Road, onto the trail and into the woods. The path weaves in and out of a wooded forest, intermittently offering views of the secluded Crescent Beach. Carry on along the path under the canopy tall Sitka spruce and Alder trees towards the other end of the beach.
At low tide, it’s possible to walk around Chapman Point at the south end of the beach to reach Chapman Beach. This area is protected by the small John Yeon State Natural Site, named after the preservationist who bought the land in 1927 to prevent it from being developed. If you’re lucky, pelicans, seals, and sea lions can be spotted in the distance offshore.
While walking back along the beach to Ecola Point, hikers can enjoy views of the looming sea stacks and a small waterfall. Before leaving, a grouping of caves and tunnels beneath Ecola Point are just waiting to be explored.
Length: 5.8 km (3.6 mi) return
Elevation: 95 m (310 ft)
Time: 2 hours
Trailhead: Ecola State Park Trailhead
Heaphy Track – Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand
The Heaphy Track – one of New Zealand’s nine “Great Walks” – offers unrivalled diversity. This 80 km trail begins inland, leading hikers through luscious rainforests, tussock grasslands, forested mountains, and finally to the long awaited Tasman sea. But don’t let the length of the trail scare you, day hikers can choose to walk smaller portions of the trail.
This historical route was first crossed by Māori hunters travelling from Golden Bay to the Pounamu rivers of Westland in search of greenstone (pounamu). The Māori tribes are believed to have settled along the lower portion of the Heaphy River in the early 16th century. The final section of the trail is a coastal walk, alternating between soft sandy beaches and nihau palm forests. Keep an eye out for Great Spotted Kiwi birds amongst the palms.
Length: 75-80 km (46-49 mi) east to west
Elevation: 880 m (2887 ft)
Time: 4-5 days
Trailhead: Brown Hut heading west, Kohaihai parking lot heading east
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