10 favourite coastlines

Wanderlust blogger Alastair Humphreys shares his favourite coastlines. Warning: may provoke howls of outrage and oohs of contented agreement

8 mins

Forget those winter blues and daydream about visiting these spots soon. They are not all tropical beaches and palm trees, but they are all extraordinary:

1. Coffee Bay, South Africa

It was a beautiful, windy, winding ride to Coffee Bay up and down steep-edged river valleys, the landscape crumpled like a screwed ball of paper. The wet, shining grass was warm under my bare feet and I breathed in the smell of the sea and the moist green hills of the gorgeous Wild Coast. The green sea stirred milky as waves crept in and crashed. Dolphins gently rose and fell, their shape clear below the green water. Massive waves boomed as cows daintily nibbled the very edge of the bluff.

2. Resolute Bay, Canada’s Arctic north

I had never been this far north before. And already I was enchanted. A wan sunset drifted slowly across the western horizon. I looked out across nothing but the undulating white expanse of a frozen ocean. That is all there is. The stilled ocean, the vastness of a freezing, empty sky, and me. Wow.

3. Majorca

Is there a better feeling than cresting a ridge and seeing the sea below you? I began following my nose along the rocky coastline. I passed a 13th century farmhouse. Outside is a pyramid of bright lemons and an honesty box to pay for your purchase. Clambering down to a small bay I found bright little fishing boats pulled high on the beach, and enjoyed a solitary swim.

4. Caleta Tortel

Tucked between a river mouth and a coastal bay, this little Patagonian village is a hub of the local cypress forestry trade. Hidden away at the far side of the planet I loved the homes perched on stilts and the damp, shiny timber walkways that link them up.

5. Northern California

Northern California reminded me of South Africa. The coastline was very similar to the Wild Coast. I was on Route 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway, hugging the coast on a winding, hilly, cliff-edge road through glowing fields of flowers. It was the kind of spectacular road that you see on car adverts on TV.

6. Philippines

I had to include at least one idyllic snapshot of white sand and turquoise water in this list. Snorkelling for my supper, star gazing, and all that good tropical stuff!

7. Scotland

You don’t have to travel as far as the Philippines for white sand and turquoise water. The water’s a little chilly, but the wild, unspoiled Uig beach on Lewis is one of the nicest spots I have ever been.

8. Costa Rica

I’ve chosen to forget my humiliating efforts at learning to surf on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Instead I’m remembering the fabulous blending sounds of nature’s chorus coming from the green, damp, dark jungle on one side of me, and the glorious pounding ocean on the other as I pedalled a narrow gravel track along the shoreline.

9. Hawaii

Thousands of miles from a mainland I watched shimmering, towering waves roll slowly yet unstoppably towards me. Their untroubled ride across swathes of ocean comes suddenly to an end as they peak, curl, and crash on the shore of Kauai island. Not for the first time in my life I wished that I could surf

10. Westmann Islands

The craggy Westmanns are just a short ferry ride  from the southern coast of Iceland. Clouds of seabirds swirl round the cliff tops. I sat in the last of the summer’s midnight sun enjoying the freshness of the coastline, though cursing that I had not managed to see a single puffin despite being assured that countless thousands of them nested nearby!

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