While mountain hiking trails and shaded forests are cool places for summer hikes, to truly take advantage of the surf, spectacular views, and the sun, you need to move your hike to the coastal areas. Beach hikes allow you to explore beautiful coastlines, watch the waves crash onto the shoreline’s unique rock formations, and even use a refreshing swim to cool off before continuing along the hiking trail.
To help outdoor lovers get acquainted with the world’s most beautiful coastal hikes, we are spotlighting the best beach hikes in this article. If you are ready to enjoy spectacular scenery while inhaling saline air, pack the hiking gear in your hiking backpack and explore the following coastal hikes.
Top-Rated Beach Hikes Everyone Should Explore
1. GR34 – France
From the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel to the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, the GR34 covers approximately 1,800 kilometers along the coast of Breton without ever leaving the sea out of sight. One of the most emblematic long-distance hiking trails in France, the GR34 is also a path full of history that winds its way along the seashore in a breathtaking natural setting. Once a path that made it possible for the customs officers to travel along the coast to minimize smuggling, today the GR34 is frequented by hikers for the beauty of its landscapes.
After donning your hiking shoes, walking along the GR34 is one of the most invigorating ways to capture the spirit of Brittany. From the coasts of emerald and pink granite to the Morbihan Gulf, via the South Finistère coast, the GR34 offers hikers one of the most unique experiences.
If your goal is to hike the entire GR34, you will need an average of 85 days. If you do not have 85 days, you can decide to hike sections of the hiking trail – the stretch along the Pink Granite Coast in Cotes d’Armor is extremely popular among hikers who have already explored GR34.
2. Lycian Way – Turkey
Featuring a unique combination of ancient ruins, Turkish culture, mountainous hinterland, and stunning Mediterranean views, the Lucian Way is one of the best coastal hikes. The 540 kilometers waymarked trail – typically a 29-day hike – follows Teke Peninsula bulging outline between the tourist towns of Antalya and Fethiye.
On this hiking trail, you will get to take in stunning views over one of the most popular coastlines in Turkey. You will feel as if you are hiking through history as you explore the mule trails, Roman roads, and old footpaths that cut through this part of Southern Turkey.
If you do not have a month to explore the entire Lucian Way, you can explore the best sections, leaving the rest to your imagination. Featuring sheer cliffs plunging into the golden beach, the Butterfly Valley is one of the most famous sections. With a loose confederation of 25 city-states formed around 165 BC, the Lycian League is another ideal section you may want to explore.
Campsites are found all along the Lycian Way hiking trail – if you had carried your backpacking tent, sleeping bag, and other camping gear, you can always spend a night in the wilderness. If you prefer to spend your nights in a more comfortable place, you can always book hotels and lodgings in towns close to where you end your hike for the day.
3. Kalalau Trail – Hawaii, USA
The Kalalau hiking trail weaves through one of the most popular natural wonders – the Na Pali coast. Featuring unspoiled beaches, majestic ridges, and 180-degree of the electric blue Pacific Ocean, every inch of the trail boasts some of the most epic views.
The 11-mile one-way hike zigzags through unpredictable streams, 5 lush valleys, and along some tiny footpaths that scale steep sea cliffs. While it is by no means the most ideal trek for beginning hikers, the end reward – dramatic mountains, isolated beaches, and seaside caves – makes the arduous trek worth the effort.
Starting at Ha’ena State Park and ending in the Kalalau Valley, you can hike the entire 11 miles in a single day. However, most people prefer to take their time, often pitching tents halfway in the Hanakoa Valley close to a stream that leads to a waterfall.
After spending your night in the Hanakoa Valley, you can hike to the Kalalau Valley the next day. You will get to explore the valley with a 2-mile hiking trail that leads to tiny waterfalls, streams, and other stunning areas.
4. Wild Coast Trail – South Africa
With deserted white beaches, rugged green hills, dramatic cliffs, and smiling people, the Wild Coast trail is one of the best coastal hikes in South Africa. The section from Port St. Johns to Coffee Bay is the most spectacular.
Hugging the coastline stretch along with the former Transkei homeland, the 64-kilometer hiking trail is barely touched by development and hence is still unspoiled. The trail is not very easy – you will have to cross rivers and climb some steep hills.
Along the way, however, you will be able to catch unique sights of waterfalls that drop into the sea, cows roaming the beaches, and massive caves that can only be accessed by foot. If you remember to carry your hiking or backpacking camera, you should be able to use your landscape photography skills to capture some pictures to remind you of your trek through one of the most remote coasts in South Africa.
The entire hike will take an average of 5 days to complete. Be sure to carry your tent and ask for permission from the village chiefs to pitch it.
5. Anglesey Coastal Path – United Kingdom
Passing through a landscape featuring a mixture of coastal heath, salt-marsh, farmland, cliffs, foreshore, and several small pockets of woodland, the 200-kilometer Anglesey Coastal Path has a lot to offer. To complete the entire trail walking, you will need an average of 12 days. For people who aren’t in a position to hike the entire trail, it is possible to complete all sections using public transport.
When exploring this hiking trail, hikers should expect clifftop walks, shingle paths carved out from the wild surge of the Atlantic, and long strolls beside the rugged beaches. You will even come across stepping stones as you progress on one of the flatter sections of the route – to be specific, the Menai Straits. The hiking trail itself is well-signposted, with its blue tern way-markers guiding hikers throughout the coast.
While most of the sections are fairly manageable, the cliffs feature the greatest elevations – particularly, the section starting at Holyhead and ending at Trearddur, featuring an elevation of 600+ meters. Highlights along the hiking trail include the South Stack lighthouse, the sea arches found at Bwa Gwyn, and the Holyhead Mountain.
6. Hana Waianapanapa Hiking Trail – Hawaii, USA
Starting at Kainalimu Bay, the Hana Waianapanapa Hiking Trail follows the rugged lava coastline along the King’s Highway in Hawaii. Being only 3 miles long, the trail can be completed in just a single day. However, if you would like to camp along the hiking trail, you will need to get a permit from the state.
Following the jagged coastal cliffs, the hiking trail crosses lava flows above the caves and numerous underground tunnels. On the trail, where the black rock meets the blue ocean, you will be able to see sea arches, blowholes, tide pools, and even an ancient Hawaiian temple site.
The trail has managed to stay in fair shape and is, therefore, easy to follow. You may not need to hire a guide when exploring the trail. However, tough hiking boots are recommended because of the sharp lava.
7. Barbuda West Coast Beach – Barbuda
Featuring crystal clear water, fine white sand, and a limited number of people, Barbuda’s West Coast Beach is one of the best beach hikes for people who like to enjoy some solitude after putting on their hiking boots or shoes.
Being flat throughout, the 11-mile hiking trail is perfect for even inexperienced hikers. However, the hiking trail is quite wild – you won’t be able to resupply while hiking Barbuda’s West Coast Beach. To avoid having to cut your adventure short because you are out of supplies, be sure to pack enough supplies to last you throughout your 3-day trip.
Flanked by an inner lagoon, the most ideal way to access the Barbuda West Coast Beach is to walk from the south end. The alternative is to hire a boat from Antigua. If you manage to schedule your hike to take place between June and September, you should be able to spot leatherback turtles that come out of the water to lay eggs on the sand.
8. Olympic National Park – Washington, USA
Featuring over 250 miles of hiking trails, Olympic National Park is not entirely a beach hike. However, it features an average of 7 unique coastal hikes.
Rialto Beach is one of the most popular coastal areas within the Olympic National Park. Lined with outstanding natural features and separated from the Third and Second Beach by the Quillayute River, Rialto Beach is one of the best destinations for outdoor lovers. Sea birds, sea stacks, and incredibly rocky shoreline define much of the time hikers spend on this beach.
Ruby Beach, on the southern Wilderness Coast, presents the epitome of one of the most rugged Washington coastlines. Accessed via a paved and steep trail from a parking lot, the Ruby Beach view is stunning. Accompanied by the squawk of seagulls, sea stacks tower in the distance. The sunsets experienced on Ruby Beach are some of the best in the US.
Other coastal trails available in the Olympic National Park include the Ozette Triangle trail, Point of the Arches Trail, Moments in Time Trail, Cape Alava Trail, and much more.
9. Abel Tasman Track – New Zealand
Located on New Zealand’s Northern coast, Abel Tasman Track is a 60 kilometers hiking trail running from Marahau town to Wainui Bay. Depending on your motivation and level of fitness, you can complete the entire trail in an average of 3 to 5 days.
Hiking the Abel Tasman Track allows you to explore golden sands, enjoy the views of sparkling seas, explore the stunningly lush forest, and see sculpted cliffs. Once you put on your hiking pants and hiking shirt and get on the trail, you will be able to enjoy the impressive view of the fauna. There are plenty of seabirds – you will be able to see the penguins which pop up among the waves and the cormorants & shags on wings or perched up high.
Accommodation along the hiking trail is not a problem. Along the well-maintained hiking trail, you will come across high-quality huts where you can spend your nights before continuing with your hike the following day.
10. Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Wales, UK
Turning and twisting its way along one of the most breathtaking coastlines in the United Kingdom, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path covers an average of 186 miles. The trail covers almost every type of maritime landscape, from the sheltered coves and rugged cliff tops to the winding estuaries and wide-open beaches. From St. Dogmaels to Amroth, the trail takes an average of 10 to 15 days to complete one way.
A diverse ecosystem of coastal fauna and wildlife are some of the highlights to expect while exploring the hiking trail. Dolphins, unusual seabird species, and seals appear along the wild seaboard stretches that define the path.
In terms of difficulty, the hiking trail can be strenuous along with the clifftop areas where you will get to follow routes that undulate underfoot, interspersed with several descents and ascents along the way. This is, however, not typical of the trail as a whole – many sections are flat and gentle.
Globo Surf Overview
Enjoying hiking snacks in a secluded cove, going for a refreshing swim after a whole day on the trail, and taking in the dramatic ocean landscapes are some of the main reasons outdoor lovers like to explore beach hikes. While we did not cover all the world’s coastal hiking trails, this article has the most impressive trails. The trails mentioned above will help you enjoy the view of the maritime landscape, the flora, and the fauna.
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- coastal hikes in California, Theguardian.com