There is nothing better that putting your hiking boots on and heading off down a nature trail, or spending a day relaxing on the beach to refresh mind and spirit after a tough week in the office. It therefore stands to reason that when you combine these two simple pleasures in life, the rewards will be multiplied twofold. Coastal hiking trails provide some of the most spectacular scenery, allowing one to enjoy the splendor while deeply inhaling the salty, saline air. They also provide plenty of opportunities to cool off in the ocean before continuing further along the trail. Below is a list of some of my favorite coastal nature trails around the world.
Garden Route, South Africa
The Otter Trail is a 5 day, 4 night trail that takes hikers along one of South Africa’s finest stretch of coastline. Rated as one of the best hikes in the world, this popular trail, situated in the Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park, Eastern Cape, meanders through coastal forests, allowing hikers to take in breathtaking vistas from rugged rocky clifftops, before dropping down to sea level for river crossings. Pack your tentree t-shirts and other gear well to ensure they remain dry while crossing the rivers.
De Hoop, South Africa
The Whale Trail is a 6 day, 5 night, 55 kilometer coastal trail that hugs the coastline of De Hoop Nature Reserve in Southern Western Cape, South Africa. The route meanders along coastal cliffs, where whales can be seen frolicking in the sheltered bays below, dipping down to pristine, secluded beaches where hikers can cool off in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Tierra del Fuego Coastal Trail
The Tierra del Fuego Coastal Trail is an easy 3 hour hiking trail situated in the Tierra del Fuego National Park, a short bus ride from Ushuaia, which is literally situated at the end of the world. Bordered by the Beagle Channel, the route is remote, rugged and perfect for those seeking peace and solitude.
Scotland’s Coastal Path
Scotland is incredibly scenic, steeped in history, and the hospitality of the Scottish people is legendary – there is no better way to savor all this than to hike along the spectacular Scottish coastline. The Scotland Coastal Path comprises several sections which can be tackled individually, or for those with itchy feet, in its entirety.
South West Coastal Path
At 1014 kilometers (630 miles) the South West Coastal Path is England’s longest national trail. The trail hugs the coastal cliffs of England’s South West Peninsula from Minehead on the Somerset coastline along the coasts of Exmoor, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, culminating at Poole Harbour. The route includes spectacular coastal vistas together with green open fields filled with sheep, lots of sheep.
The Skye Trail
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Arguably one of my most favourite places in the world, the Isle of Skye knows no boundaries when it comes to spectacular scenery. The Skye Trail meanders through 128 kilometers of rugged mountain and coastal terrain and doesn’t disappoint.
Dune Du Pyla
Located in La Teste-de-Buch in the Arcachon Bay area, France, 60 km from Bordeaux, the Dune Du Pyla (also known as the Dune of Pilat) is not really a coastal trail as such, but more of a mammoth hike up a very large sand dune — at 107m high, it is the largest dune in Europe. Once you reach the summit, the view is astounding. I recommend tackling this late afternoon and getting your breathe back while watching the sunset. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of French wine to really savor the moment.
Caines Head Coastal Trail
The Caines Head Coastal Trail is a 7.5 kilometer day hike that wanders through the inter-tidal shoreline to Caine’s Head State Marine Park. As a section of the trail can only be hiked during low tide, it is important to plan your hike to coincide with low tide if you want to complete the entire trail.
Tasman Coastal Trail
The Tasman Coastal Trail is a 53 kilometer hiking trail that lies in the Tasman National Park. Starting at Waterfall Bay, it follows the rugged coastal cliffs past Fortescue Beach to Cape Hauy through to Cape Pillar. The trail can take between 3-5 days to complete. Hikers should come well prepared with provisions such as food, water, tent, and foul weather gear — don’t forget to pack your tentree hoodie to provide warmth against cold winds.
Cape of Good Hope Trail
Cape Point, South Africa
The Cape of Good Hope Trail is a circular 2-day hiking trail where hikers overnight in self-catering cottages. Starting at the parking lot at the entrance to Cape Point Nature Reserve, the trail meanders through 33.8 kilometers of pristine fynbos wilderness teaming with antelope, baboons, ostriches and other wildlife, and along coastal cliffs and isolated beaches where two oceans — the cold Atlantic on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the east of the Cape peninsula — meet.