Pfeiffer beach

Pfeiffer Beach can be called a hard-to-reach beach, but reaching it is worth efforts. It is located near Big Sur village in the central part of the coast of California. Getting into this area is an interesting trip and a great opportunity to take amazing photographs.

Beach description

A distinctive feature of the place is purple and violet sand underfoot, which is washed by the surf off rocks surrounding it. This unusual color is due to the presence of manganese garnet in rocks of hills. The shore looks especially fantastic after rain and during sunset. There are sunsets here which can hardly be found. A lucky photographer will photograph the sun when its rays pass through the "keyhole" of the rock rising in the bay.

Pfeiffer beach is suitable for swimming, but generally people come here to walk, observe beautiful views and explore picturesque rocks. The latter will only have place if you have the appropriate equipment. At least good boots will be required, the ability to stand firmly on your feet under gusts of wind, otherwise an unlucky traveler could be blowed off the cliff.

Before to go you should thoroughly study the route, because many fall into the state park instead of the beach. Incorrect GPS settings disorient, and due to the lack of indicators, tourists often miss the necessary turn.

It’s better to walk early in the morning, because although parking is nearby and costs 10$ (it’s an entrance fee), it is filled with people early in the summer on weekends. Security guards passe vacationers strictly dosed, you have to wait until someone leaves or postpone a visit to another day.

It is forbidden to raise fires in the vicinity of the beach. In years past, due to hot and dry weather many hectares of California land, even residential buildings burned out. The Pfeiffer Big Sur Park suffered tremendous damage. Fire safety is strictly observed here.

Features of recreation at Pfeiffer Beach:

  • The beach is open only during a day, from 9.00 to 20.00. There is no place to spend the night here.
  • Toilets is close to the parking, sowers with monetized system, a shop is in the campsite. Wi-Fi is also provided there.
  • The northern part of the beach is often inaccessible during the high tide. It is necessary to return from this area in time, so as not to be locked there by the tide.
  • If the recreation place is indicated by someone's bathing suit on a log or on stones - this is a sign that naked people are there. The northern tip of the coast among the nudist community is also quite popular.
  • Dogs are allowed, but only if they are on a leash.
  • There is a lounge. If necessary you can take a wheelchair at a kiosk.
  • It is very windy here, sand is found in the most unexpected places and gives inconvenience.
  • Picnic places are equipped. There is a restaurant and a bakery in Big Sur village.

Before visiting the beach, you should know about the weather and the road leading to the beach. Often it is closed for a long time because of constant work. Especially landslides are possible at the end of winter.

When is the best time to go?

To lay off on the beaches of the mainland, it is best to come in the summer, when a sufficiently warm temperature is settled for swimming. Places like Florida or the Hawaiian Islands are comfortable all year round.

Video: Beach Pfeiffer


The ocean, mountains and forest are what attract a few property owners. Prices for it are quite high, as the region is located in a mountainous area, far from villages. There are environmental restrictions on the construction. There are about 1000 permanent residents in the Big Sur region. Many houses are located directly on the coast, therefore it is not always accessible for tourists. The cost of a house with an allotment is from 2 million $ and is available only to very wealthy people dreaming of a hermit life.

There are also few hotels, staying in them causes significant financial damage. An economical option for a thrifty tourist is to stay at a campsite or in a tent. They come here, generally, not to enjoy fashionable apartments, but for incredible views.

There is no water supply here, due to restrictions on making fires, food can be prepared on propane stoves. Well-kept flat area, picnic tables with lanterns, the ability to hang hammocks, there are WC. Hosts are very attentive and kindly. But local raccoons behave poorly, so it is better to store food in a car. Hiking through nature reservations, cows in a meadow, playing dolphins in the surf, spring water. There is no mobile network. If dirt under your nails is frightening, hotels will offer bathrooms, a spa and a restaurant. A payphone is available on the beach.

The local cuisine uses the seafood from the Pacific Ocean, meat from the local farmers and ecologically clean Californian food. Winemakers and sommeliers offer a wide variety of wine and beer. The suburban style of the restaurants is emphasized by the natural wooden interiors and the views of the ocean. You can have a breakfast or dinner on a terrace. Some people eat their morning omelette while soaking their feet in the cool waters of the River Big Sur. Banana pancakes with nuts are especially delicious here.

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Useful information

  1. To make sure you don't skip the right turn, search for the only paved road across the Sycamore Canyon that can be found on the west side if you're going via the Number 1 Highway. There are no gates there, and you'll need to make a steep turn between the Big Sur post office and the state park.
  2. The sun on Pfeiffer Beach is a rarity. The coastline is often misty which makes the beach even cooler. When going here, don't forget comfortable shoes and warm clothes in case of cold, rainy weather.
  3. If you're leaving your car on the parking lot at the beach or near a restaurant, please note that these places are known for both the beautiful landscapes and criminals that can easily steal everything valuable from your vehicle after breaking the window. So it's advised to put everything valuable in a backpack and bring with you.
  4. When moving along the coastline, note that there are no typical town conveniences here. Gas stations and small cafes can be occasionally encountered. Lonely shops and hotels offer their services. Always control the amount of fuel left in your gas tank. The closest gas station can be situated several miles away from you, and the tow truck will take a long time to come.

Where else to visit:

    The Julia Pfeiffer Park.

  • The waterfall and the McVey Bay.
  • The Bixby Bridge and its 100 m high archs.
  • The small scenic Point Lobos Park where otters, elephants and fur seals swim in the ocean.
  • The Hearst Castle.
  • The Ocean Avenue District, for those who like shopping.

The beach participates in ratings:

7 place in rating North America 57 place in rating TOP-100 of the best beaches in the world 9 place in rating USA
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