16 of the world’s best coastlines

CNN  — 

Coastlines are one of the most alluring of our planet’s geographical features.

The clash of land and water is often mesmerizing, as are the plants, animals and human activities that flourish along a shore.

In classic novella “Heart of Darkness,” seafaring author Joseph Conrad wrote that all coasts are shrouded in mystery, with an invitation to “come and find out” what they have to offer.

Here are 16 of the world’s best coastline destinations, scattered across six continents and three oceans:

Cinque Terre, Italy

This rugged Italian shore inspired Dante’s vision of Purgatory in his poem “Divine Comedy,” but to modern visitors, the Cinque Terre is absolute heaven.

Protected within the confines of a national park, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s made up of a cluster of five coastal villages that really do seem lost in time.

The villages are linked by the famous Sentiero Azzurro, as well as other hiking trails that lead to secluded beaches.

Turquoise Coast, Turkey

The Turquoise Coast curves around the southwest of Turkey.

Known as Lycia in ancient times, the big bend along Turkey’s southwest shore is one of the lesser known gems of the Mediterranean Sea which flaunts many attractive coastlines.

Its bays really are turquoise, especially otherworldly lagoon Ölüdeniz, or “Dead Sea,” near the amazingly photogenic Fethiye.

Sailing is a great way to discover the coast’s many secluded bays and coves.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur stretches across the California coastline between Carmel and San Simeon.

A coast that inspired works by Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller, photographer Ansel Adams and even the Beach Boys must have something special, and Big Sur doesn’t disappoint.

The vertiginous drive along Highway One connects legendary Hearst Castle with redwood groves, rustic chic hotels, cliff-edge restaurants, and those cute little sea otters at Point Lobos.

Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland

The Giant's Causeway was the first World Heritage site in Northern Ireland.

Long before popular TV series “Games of Thrones” was filmed here, the Antrim Coast was renowned for its stark, natural beauty.

The Giant’s Causeway, an estimated 40,000 basalt columns created by an ancient volcanic eruption, is one of its stand out sites.

Visitors can hike the shore on the Causeway Coast Way, a 51-kilometer trail that includes the vertigo-inducing Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Malabar Coast, India