Pfeiffer Beach is a beautiful, unspoiled beach that's popular with locals, somewhat unknown among tourists and well worth your time. Besides beautiful offshore views of rocks and sea stacks and some nice surfing waves, this beach has unusual purple sand, from manganese garnet particles washing down the hillside. The further north on the beach you go, the more purple it becomes.
This west-facing location, with dramatic offshore rocks, should make for some beautiful sunset photographs.
Scenes from Pfeiffer Beach
Enjoy some of our best shots in this Pfeiffer Beach Photo Tour
Pfeiffer Beach Fees
- Entrance Fee: Fee charged for entry and parking. Day use only.
Creature Comforts at Pfeiffer Beach
- Restrooms near parking lot
- The nearest place to get food is in Big Sur Village
- Dogs allowed on leash
- No fires
Pfeiffer Beach Activities
- Beach games
- Swimming, no lifeguard on duty
Highs and Lows at Pfeiffer Beach
- Pfeiffer Beach is a family-friendly beach, with lots of sand for kids to play in.
- Limited parking controls the number of people who are on the beach, which is both good and bad news. By noon on a summer weekend, you'll find the parking lot almost full, and with no other parking nearby, rangers will turn latecomers away or make them wait until someone else leaves.
- On windy days, blowing sand drives Pfeiffer Beach visitors up against the hillsides. If you try to walk in it, you'll end up with sand grains in places you can't imagine.
- The north part of the beach past the rocks gets almost cut off at high tide. If you decide to settle down there, watch out to be sure you can get back.
- Nude sunbathers are sometimes found on the far north portion of the beach.
How to Get to Pfeiffer Beach
Pfeiffer Beach is off CA Hwy1 in Big Sur on Sycamore Canyon Road. There is no sign on the highway, but you can find the turnoff just past the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (not the same as Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park further south).
Coming from the north, look for the turnoff in the picture above. It's a sharp right turn marked by a row of mailboxes. You'll see a sign that says Pfeiffer Beach shortly after turning onto Sycamore Canyon. The beach is about 2 miles down the road.