Getting to Pfeiffer Beach requires some commitment. It’s not a local hotspot in the middle of a busy city surrounded by shops and restaurants, it’s a secluded little beach in the middle of Los Padres National Forest that requires a two mile drive down a narrow, winding road that’s too thin for RVs or trailers.
Oh, and be prepared to have little to no GPS signal to help guide you down, too, as the area is remote and phone service is hard to come by. Although it may sound a little scary, or at least a bit inconvenient, to find your way down to the purple sands of Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, it is well worth the effort.
The natural beauty exhibited throughout this little stretch of shoreline where the Sycamore Canyon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean is nothing short of spectacular. Take pictures of famous Keyhole Rock, take a walk on the sand with your dog, and be sure to check out the tide pools.
Walking, dog walking, photography, tidepooling.
Dogs are allowed on the beach provided they are leashed.
The Keyhole Rock arch is a popular spot for photography.
Rip currents can be strong, and there are no lifeguards, swim at your own risk.
Parking for a fee is available it’s fairly limited.
Pfeiffer Beach is an isolated spot so there are not many attractions that could be considered “nearby”, however, it is located along the Big Sur Coast, which is one of the most scenic areas in the entire country. Drive along the 1 and you’ll find spectacular view after spectacular view with plenty of pull off points for you to get your camera out and snap some photos.
Pfeiffer Beach is also less than 30 minutes from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which offers beautiful scenic hikes, water falls, scuba diving in the offshore marine protected areas, and campgrounds.
The purple sands you’ll find on the northern end of Pfeiffer Beach are the product of manganese garnet runoff from the mountains surrounding the beach’s shores. The purple sands are most prominent when it rains.
The nearly unrivaled natural beauty of Big Sur has been the inspiration for many artists, musicians, and authors. The Beach Boys have a song entitled “Big Sur” on their album Holland (affiliate link), and author Jack Kerouac has a book entitled “Big Sur” (affiliate link) that was adapted to a 2013 film (affiliate link) of the same name.
Location: 9100 Sycamore Canyon Road in Big Sur, California
Season: Year round