Greg Barton, editor of Australian Traveller Magazine says, “The whole of Tasmania, really, is one long coastal drive with occasional darts inland to magnificent places like Cradle Mountain.” Barton recently took a new Maserati Quattroporte for a spin through the Day Two touring route of the Targa Tasmania auto rally. He says the route, called The Easter Trundle, “takes in fast, long, sweeping straights past fishing villages that still think it's 1955, through tight winding mountain passes that will test any car, and along leisurely dips and glides through overhanging ferns and million-year-old moss-covered myrtles.”
For more information: www.discovertasmania.com
Mike Dushane, editor at CarAndDriver.com says California’s Pacific Coast Highway is his favorite route, “preferably on a weekday morning when traffic is at a minimum.” The several hundred miles that hug the coastland pass by Spanish Missions, millionaire’s mansions, classic surf spots, and beaches that grow progressively more rugged as you travel north. Big Sur, south of Monterey Bay, is an especially magical stretch of the highway, where damp coastal redwood groves cascade toward the sea.
Hire an Alfa Romeo, pop some dramamine, and gas it — cautiously — through the hairpin-heavy route, about 40 miles’ worth of cliff-hugging highway that John Steinbeck famously described as "carefully designed to be a little narrower than two cars side by side."
The cliffs are dotted with a series of stunning, flower-draped villages that have served as enclaves for high society since the Middle Ages.
For more information: www.amalfitouristoffice.it/en/visita_amalfi.htm
The adjacent Kerry and Dingle peninsulas are home to the most famous drives in Ireland. Irish-speakers, Stone Age ruins -- and thousands of sheep -- dot the 30-mile Dingle loop. At the Westernmost point, Slea Head, the icy Atlantic crashes against black-rock cliffs.
The Ring of Kerry offers equally breathtaking ocean views and, as you pass through Kerry Bog Village keep an eye out for the Kerry Bog ponies, standing a proud-but-diminutive 10 hands high. To take it all in, you’ll have to heed the Gaelic signs and “Taisteal go Mall” (travel slowly).
For more information: www.kerry-tourism.com/
Huge glaciers carved out coves, bays and river channels here long ago. Today you can traverse the granite-edged shores a little more quickly than our ice-behemoth predecessors. Along the mid-coast of Maine, US Highway 1 winds through charming towns with quaint cottages and stately mansions where sea captains of yore rested their ocean-wary bones. Towns like Rockport and Camden offer arts-and-crafts nooks to explore and historical windjammer fleets to inspect. Whales and puffins patrol the waters beyond. Time your drive for fall to catch the stunning seasonal foliage.
For more information: www.visitmaine.com/
Joe DeMatio, senior editor at Automobile Magazine, says that on the drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, you’re “hugging close to the cliffs plunging to the ocean below,” an experience that “almost puts [California’s] Highway One to shame.” The M6 highway runs along the Atlantic coast side of the Cape; Chapman’s Peak Drive, starting at Hout Bay heading south, consistently causes jaws to drop.
This twisting, tropical trail connects the city of Kahului with the town of Hana, in East Maui and, while blind turns and one-lane bridges make the going slow, you won't want speed past the waterfalls, lava caverns, bamboo groves and breathtaking ocean views, with surfers in action. Aviator Charles Lindbergh spent his last days in Maui, and you can find his solitary grave at the Palapala Ho'omau Church in Kipahulu. Get into gear at dawn to enjoy the sunrise spectacle of this east-facing coastline.
For more information: www.gohawaii.com/maui/
A 185-mile loop on the island of Cape Breton, this rugged mountain/coastal highway affords jaw-dropping views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and earns consistently hyperbolic reviews from travelers. This is wild northern wilderness at its best: Bald eagles soar overhead, whales linger offshore, and salmon navigate the icy Margaree River, which the trail parallels on the southwest turn. If you need a roadside phone, the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic site offers a vintage array. Visit in summer 2007 and enjoy the Cabot Trail’s 75th-annniversary celebration of seafaring and seafood: Lobsterpalooza!
For more information: www.novascotia.com and www.lobsterpalooza.ca
Corniche is a French-derived word for “a road built along a coast and especially along the face of a cliff.” On the French Riviera we find a cornucopia of corniches: three parallel highways, low, middle and high, that offer varying experiences of the spectacular coast between Nice and Menton. This is where Grace Kelly and Cary Grant sped along in To Catch a Thief (and where Kelly met her real-life end). Frenchman Didier Jamot, who has traversed the corniches a time or two, says the the Grande route, which overhangs monaco, offers especially “arresting views.” Jamot cautions that July and August can be hazy, and spring is a better season for soaking up the vibrant colors: “the blue sea and sky, the green forests, the white limestone.”
For more information: www.francetourism.com/practicalinfo/regionssoutheasternriviera.htm
This 127-mile route links Anchorage with Seward and travels through a varied landscape that includes glaciers, valleys, fjords and alpine meadows. Highlights include the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, where sights may include dall sheep and bald eagles. Farther down the road is Beluga Point, named after the denizens of the deep that can sometimes be spotted there. The Seward has been designated an All-American Road by the U.S. Department of Transportation, so gas it up and put some patriotic pedal to the medal.
For more information: www.alaska.org/driving/turnagain-arm-drive.htm