4 Coastal Motorcycle Routes to Travel this Summer

Riding on a motorcycle just isn’t the same as riding in the back of a car. These scenic coastal motorcycle routes give you a front-row seat to the majestic beauty of the natural world. You’ll get to see astonishing sights that most commuters would otherwise miss. Scenic routes continue to be a major draw for avid motorists where the journey matters more than the destination. Add these road trips to your summer to-do list to make the most of your time on the road.

Pacific Coast Highway 1

Nothing beats the signature beauty of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. This is about as close to the ocean as you can get without running off the road. The 1, as many locals call it, runs all the way from Southern California to the Northern part of the state, giving you a chance to see nearly everything the state has to offer.

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway. Photo by Teresa Bitler

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The road is extremely motorcycle-friendly, as many motorists depend on it for more than just tourism. However, be prepared for a series of tight turns as the road weaves around the mountainous coast. The road is also notoriously expensive to maintain and repair, so don’t be surprised if some sections are starting to cave into the shore. While most of the road is open, refresh the latest closure information before heading out.

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You can finish the entire trip in about five hours, depending on traffic. Experts recommend filling up on gas before you start your trip, as some sections do not have stations. There also aren’t a lot of places to go to the bathroom, so don’t pass up the opportunity. You’ll have to rely on turnouts when pulling over to the side of the road.

Coastal Route 1

No shade to California, but the east coast has its fair share of coastal routes as well. The most famous of which would be Coastal Route 1, which runs from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Fort Kent, Maine, giving you a chance to see the best of New England. You’ll get plenty of ocean time as the road dips and curves along the low-lying coast.

Maine has become a bit of a tourist hub over the last few years, and this route remains a major selling point. Unlike the rural northern region, the coastal part of the state is alive with possibilities. Art galleries, hotels, restaurants, and other attractions balance the state’s enduring sense of history. Be sure to check out the Portland Head Lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth, Oyster Trail of Maine, and the Annual Blueberry Festival for more excitement.

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Portland Head Light at sunrise in Maine, New England, USA. Photo courtesy Adobe Stock

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No need to stray from the beach when you need a break from the road. At Sandy Pines Campground, you can pitch a tent right in the sand just a short drive from the highway.

Scenic Highway M-25

If you don’t have access to the ocean, you can always head north to see Michigan’s legendary “Ride Round the Thumb,” a stretch of road that runs along Lake Huron and the thumb-shaped part of the shape. M-25 takes you through a number of scenic lake towns, including Point Huron, Sebewaing, Bay City, and Port Austin. Every area gives you something new to explore with its small-town beach vibe.

The terrain isn’t nearly as dangerous or hilly as some of the other routes on this list. We are talking about the Midwest here after all. The roads also tend to be in better condition. They don’t get as much traffic as the Pacific Coast Highway. The lack of saltwater also reduces wear and tear on your bike, making this one of the great coastal motorcycle routes.

coastal motorcycle routes

Coastal motorcycle routes can include this one – M-25 around Michigan's Lake Huron. Photo By Traveler100, via CreativeCommons

The entire trip only takes about three hours. If you like something you see, you can always pull over and spend the night in one of the area’s quaint inns.

The Coastal North Carolina 12

This notorious stretch of the road puts you right on top of the ocean for an unbelievable 114 miles. It runs just a short distance from the coast of North Carolina as it strings together the Outer Banks and other island formations off the coast of the U.S.

coastal motorcycle routes

North Carolina Highway 12 runs 114 miles through the Outer Banks. Photo by aoldman via iStock by Getty Images

There are plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs along the way, including campgrounds. Relax on one of the area’s many beaches, catch a glimpse of wild horses, and enjoy all the seafood you can eat. Hatteras and Ocracoke are known for their leisure and shopping.

However, starting your journey can be a bit of a pain. You can get on and off the road by connecting in the middle. Otherwise, you’ll have to catch a ride on a ferry. Riders also complain of strong winds, which might be a challenge when riding on a motorcycle. Take it slow and avoid traveling at high speeds on windy days.

What to Pack for Your Coastal Motorcycle Route

As magical as taking a long road trip on your motorcycle can be, you don’t have a lot of room for storage, so you’ll need to be strategic in terms of what you bring. Nothing could be more important than your health and safety when traveling long distances on a motorcycle.

coastal motorcycle routes

Ensure you always have the proper gear before you take off on one of these coastal motorcycle trips. Photo by Andrew Arvia via Shutterstock.com

You should always wear the proper riding gear when traveling on the highway, including a full-face helmet, gloves, and jacket. Bring along a first aid kit for treating minor wounds and motion sickness.

These routes tend to be fairly straightforward, but there’s always a chance you could get lost. Bring along paper maps, GPS, and a Bluetooth communication system for calling for help. Use a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet that won’t distract you from the road when listening for directions. Today’s Bluetooth motorcycle helmet speakers feature crystal-clear audio without impairing your ability to drive. It’s all about helping you stay in control when you’re on your bike.

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The world is your oyster when you own a motorcycle. No pun intended. Discover what’s waiting around the bend with these unforgettable coastal motorcycle routes. Be sure to check out Wander for more great road trips.


Written by Susan Lanier-Graham

Founder and publisher Susan Lanier-Graham has traveled the world for the past twenty years, filling a passport or two along the way. She has wandered through the jungles of Thailand, explored the mysteries of the Great Pyramids, and shared the night with a leopard in Zambia. She sailed in the Mediterranean, sipped her way through Burgundy canals and Champagne caves. She followed Rembrandt’s footsteps through Amsterdam. Susan found her center on the red rocks of Sedona and soaked up an exquisite sunset over the Indian Ocean in Bali. Susan is always looking for wow moments around the world or across the street to share with adventure lovers everywhere. She has authored more than 75 books and hundreds of magazine articles. Susan is an award-winning travel writer and member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). She is a Certified California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). Susan's work still regularly appears in print and online. Susan is an award-winning travel writer, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and is a Certified California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). Susan has worked as an ambassador for Travelocity and is currently a travel ambassador for Rocky Mountaineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online in a variety of publications. These include various AAA publications, Postcards for Travel Leaders, Alamo.com, Hotels.com, Fairmont.com, So Scottsdale, Uptown, Green Living AZ, Life Refined, Modern Luxury, Marriott.com, WHERE Arizona, WHERE Traveler Phoenix + Scottsdale, and more.

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