47450 Clear Ridge Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Located on the coastline of the Big Sur region, Pfeiffer Beach is a rugged beach situated within the Los Padres National Forest area. The beach has been named the 6th Best Beach in the Top 50 Beaches in the United States list in 2022 by Randall Kaplan, the world's foremost beach expert who is known as "Mr. Beach". The beach is popular for its magnificent rock formations and exquisite purple-colored sand. The sand in Pfeiffer Beach gets its purple color from the Manganese garnet rock deposits which erode down to the beach from nearby hills. It has a rocky shoreline and a variety of rock formations are present near the beach. A massive rock formation known as the "Keyhole Arch" due to its natural archway is present just offshore. The Sycamore Canyon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean near Pfeiffer Beach and sometimes pools up and forms a lagoon on the beach. The water near the beach is extremely cold throughout the year. The beach also featured in USA Today‚Äôs list of Top Ten Beaches in California in 2015. Pfeiffer Beach does not have lifeguards, but it does have restrooms and some picnic tables. Moreover, it is popular among pet lovers as it allows dogs on leash and is one of the few beaches in the Big Sur region to do so. Getting to Pfeiffer Beach can be a little bit difficult - the beach is located near 9100 Sycamore Canyon Road, which is easily accessible from Cabrillo Highway/ California State Highway 1 (The access road for the beach is marked clearly near the highway). However, the part of Sycamore Canyon Road leading to the beach is narrow, full of potholes, and winding, making it especially difficult for visitors with large vehicles to access the beach. It is important to note that you have to pay an entrance fee for accessing the beach. There is a paid parking lot near the beach. However, we recommend visiting early as the small parking lot often fills up early. Pfeiffer Beach offers many fun activities including tidepooling, wildlife watching, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, skimboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, boogie boarding, bodysurfing, boating, beachcombing, swimming, and sunbathing. If you are planning to go into the water near Pfeiffer Beach, we recommend being extremely careful and preferably wearing a sweatsuit as the water here is extremely cold and is known for dangerous rip currents. Moreover, between May and July, this part of the Big Sur coastline becomes extremely foggy (a phenomenon known locally as the "June Gloom") which can make navigation difficult while in the water near Pfeiffer Beach. Nevertheless, you can stay on the beach and observe a variety of animals present in the water here including seals, sea lions, dolphins, and migrating grey whales (between December and April). You can also explore the tidepools present on the northern side of the beach during low tides which contain a variety of animals including crabs, mollusks, and sea urchins. You can also explore the various interesting rock formations present around the beach shoreline. Pfeiffer Beach is a popular spot among photographers for its unique geographical features. We recommend visiting this beach at around sunset as during this time sun rays seem to pass through the natural tunnel at Keyhole Arch, presenting a beautiful illusory effect.
There are many attractions near Pfeiffer Beach. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is situated at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains and has a variety of hiking trails that offer a memorable way to explore the vibrant flora and fauna of the Big Sur region. Another attraction is Pfeiffer Falls which is situated in the Los Padres National Forest and offers some great Instagram-worthy photos, along with a unique insight into coastal California's interesting topography. If you are looking for another attraction near Pfeiffer Beach, Henry Miller Memorial Library is dedicated to the memory of the renowned author Henry Miller and also serves as a gallery/performance space, hosting many exciting events throughout the year (particularly between May and October) including film screenings, live music performances, the Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series, and the Esalen Gazebo School Benefit.
If you get hungry, there are many restaurants near Pfeiffer Beach. Sierra Mar is an upscale restaurant that offers a pleasant oceanfront dining experience and serves excellent gourmet dishes. Additionally, the restaurant was awarded Tripadvisor's Traveller's Choice award in 2020 and has been praised in a variety of publications including the MICHELIN Guide. Big Sur Bakery features a homely dining area and offers a range of delicious pastries, pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. If you are looking for another good and affordable restaurant near Pfeiffer Beach, the modestly priced Big Sur Deli offers excellent sandwiches served in generous portions.
If you are looking for a hotel to stay near Pfeiffer Beach, there are many great options nearby. The 5-Star Post Ranch Inn offers many amenities including a restaurant, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a spa with two infinity pools, complimentary breakfast, a car loaner facility, and complimentary classes for stargazing, yoga, and meditation. The 3-Star Big Sur Lodge offers many amenities including a pool, a bar, a general store, a coffee shop, and a restaurant. If you are looking for another good and affordable hotel near Pfeiffer Beach, the modestly priced 3-Star Fernwood Campground and Resort offers accommodation in a motel and log cabins and also offers sites for RV and tent camping. The campground and resort offer a variety of amenities including restrooms, showers, a restaurant, and a general store.
Stairs To BeachNo
Kayaking / CanoeingNO
Lounge Chair RentalNo
Beach Mat RentalNo
Size of the beach
Public or Private
Mist - Mist