Are you looking for a remote, secluded piece of heaven? We have the perfect spot for you – Pfeiffer Beach! From the purple sand to the interesting rock formation, this hidden gem will impress you with the very first glimpse! Not only will the beach give you the chance to immerse yourself into the peace and quiet of the area, but you can find a number of other interesting spots nearby that are also worth stopping by. Wait no more but head to Pfeiffer Beach – California’s off-the-beaten-path beach!
Location of Pfeiffer Beach
Somewhere between the popular resorts of Carmen and San Simeon, visitors can find an untouched stretch of remarkable Californian coastline. If you make it to this remote secluded region of Big Sur, you should certainly pay a visit to California’s off-the-beaten-path Pfeiffer Beach!
Getting to Pfeiffer Beach
As you have already presumed getting to Pfeiffer Beach can be a bit of a challenge, but it will certainly be worth it, so do not give up yet!
Situated at approximately 20 miles away from Pfeiffer Beach, visitors can find the regional airport of Monterey, California. As a relatively small air hub, however, the airport is only served by a handful of airlines. Another option is San Jose at around 77 miles. Depending on where you are traveling from, however, the best alternatives are San Francisco and Oakland airports, situated at 99 miles and 103, respectively. You should also have in mind that the best way for reaching Pfeiffer Beach is by car. If you will be counting on the public transport, you might need between 2 and 6 hours, and you will have to make multiple transfers.
Highway 1 is the popular Californian route, which you will need to follow in order to get to Pfeiffer Beach. Be prepared as even the journey there is a great experience! The highway has been classified as a scenic drive, due to the numerous curvy turns, each one of which will present you with a unique scenery of the Pacific Ocean. As Pfeiffer Beach is part of the Los Padres National Forest, you should not get surprised once the road starts meandering between the deep redwood forest. Slightly after this, you will need to turn right along the Sycamore Canyon Road. At this point you will also see a sign for “Pfeiffer Beach”. The road, however, continues for another 2 miles before you reach the beachfront. Despite being paved, you need to be aware that the route is very narrow and steep and RV’s are not allowed.
Note: Before heading to Pfeiffer Beach, you should have in mind that the closest town is Carmel at 26 miles. As you start getting closer to the coastline, you will not be able to find any shops or restaurants. If you need to get some supplies you can do this at Big Sur Valley Area, which is just 5 miles away from the beachfront.
Pfeiffer Beach might be operational year-round, however, you need to have in mind that visitors are only allowed access between 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM. There is no entrance fee, however, you will need to pay for parking. Regardless how much time you are planning on spending at the beach, the parking daily rate is $12.
When to Visit
Pfeiffer Beach as California’s hidden gem is a fantastic place to visit any time of the year. Even still, the late spring to early autumn is the peak season when the area experiences the highest number of visitors. If you decide to visit during the summer months you will find a large number of working businesses in the entire Big Sur region. Those who prefer skipping the crowds and having a more relaxing and laid-back holiday, however, would enjoy the time in April and May when the days are long and warm, but the beach is less quiet and not as busy.
Staying Overnight at Pfeiffer Beach
All campsite lovers will be disappointed to learn that there are no camping options at Pfeiffer Beach. Located at less than 4 km, Glen Oaks Big Sur is a modern 3-start hotel with rustic elements. It is one of the most popular options when staying overnight in the area. Big Sur Lodge is another regularly chosen hotel by visitors looking for a simple accommodation in a more cottage style. Last but not least, those who are looking for a luxurious stylish property can choose the Ventana Big Sur, which will impress you with its comfortable and deluxe rooms, as well as the large swimming pool and numerous additional service provided.
Where to Eat
As an off-the-beaten-path location, Pfeiffer Beach is not as commercialized as other popular Californian tourist spots. Hence, you should be prepared that close to the beachfront you will not be able to find any places to grab some lunch from. The Big Sur area, however, offers a wide variety of dining options, many of which have large terraces overlooking the stunningly beautiful coastline.
Nepenthe is among the tourist’s favorite with its large patio and outside tables, as well as, the wide lunch menu packed with delicious sandwiches. The Bid Sur Lodge Restaurant on the other hand is a fantastic choice if you would like to stop by and grab some mouthwatering pancakes for breakfast before hitting the beach. Last but not least, if you are looking for a romantic place for dinner, you should pay a visit to Sierra Mar. You will be able to indulge in a fabulous 4 course meal, with some French flavors, while admiring the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
If you are impatient to dip your toes into the purple sand of Pfeiffer Beach, you can quickly stop at Big Sur Bakery. The pastries are warm, soft and will impress you with their interesting twist to the traditional baked goodies.
Facilities at Pfeiffer Beach
As previously mentioned, Pfeiffer Beach is not very commercialized, so you cannot expect to find many facilities around the beachfront. The good news, especially for people who are looking forward to visiting with their families, however, is that there are lots of restrooms. The parking is quite limited, so it is a good idea to head early in the morning. Those who would like to take their furry friends with them, will be happy to know that at Pfeiffer Beach dogs are allowed on leash. Unfortunately, visitors will not be able to count on lifeguards on duty, so always be cautious, especially with smaller children and during strong waves.
Things / Activities to Do / See
Now that we have covered all the information you will need to keep in mind before heading to the beach, we can move onto the things that you can see and activities to do in the area. You might be thinking that it is jut the beach, but you will be surprised once we reveal all the other interesting spots that you should add to your travel itinerary for Big Sur Region.
Undoubtedly, your trip around the area should start at Pfeiffer Beach. You might be disappointed as the beach itself is not very popular for swimming. The locals love visiting this stretch of the coast, as it is very quiet with just a handful of visitors most of the times. The soft purple sand is perfect for taking long strolls and just admiring the tranquility of this place. The Keyhole Arch is the most popular sight at the beach. The strong waves breaking into the massive rock formation situated in the middle of the ocean is a truly jaw-dropping view. During low tides, you can get closer to the rocks and you can explore them even further by climbing.
Also keep in mind that despite being popular for its sand in purple tones, your highest chance of getting to see it will be after rain.
If you enjoy photography, you might want to visit close to sunset. The steep cliffs rising high above the Pacific Ocean and the reflections of the sunlight is a picture-perfect scenery that you might want to take a photo of to remind you of this unique off-the-beaten-path Californian Beach.
The State Park
Just two miles away from Pfeiffer Beach, nature lovers can find the fantastic Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. If you are coming directly from the coast, you will quickly transition from the soft sand to the deep forests of oaks, redwoods, maples, etc. The park is also home to a rich wildlife, so do not be surprised if you manage to get a glimpse of raccoon, deer, squirrels and various interesting birds. At Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, visitors will be able to enjoy miles of narrow winding trails, running along small streams. One of the best hikes in the park, will take you to the beautiful Pfeiffer Falls after just 2-miles of walking through the deep forests, so if you enjoy being in nature make sure to add it to your travel itinerary when visiting Pfeiffer Beach.
Those of you who decide to head to the Northern side of Big Sur, should certainly pay a visit to the Point Sur Lighthouse. Situated on top of a cliff, the lighthouse dates back to the 1889. The construction of the lighthouse was of vital importance back in the times, as there were numerous ship wrecks on this side of the Californian coast. The purpose of Point Sur Lighthouse was to reroute the boats away from the bend. Nowadays, visitors can stop by during a weekend and take the guided tour, in order to learn more about the history of the lighthouse. After you climb the stairs, you will find yourself standing at 270 feet above the sea level and admiring the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
We might have already mentioned the Pfeiffer Falls, however, there is another even more fantastic waterfall, located at the Big Sur area. For this one, you will need to head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Falling from a steep cliff directly on the beach, McWay Waterfall will take your breath away. Unfortunately, the entire beach is a closed-off area, hence, you will not be able to get a close look of the impressive cascade. Do not get discouraged, though, there is a hike along the cliff, that offer outstanding views of the beach, the ocean and the McWay Fall directly above them. It is believed that if you have your own kayak, you can actually reach the waterfall by water. The park rangers, however, do not advise on taking this journey, unless you are a really good at kayaking. The cove by the beach can be quite dangerous and might be difficult to get out of, so make sure to have this in mind, if you have decided to embark on this adventure!
Last but not least, it would be a shame if you have been to the Big Sur area, without admiring the iconic Bixby Canyon Bridge. Crossing the bridge is inevitable as you are heading towards Pfeiffer Beach, however, it is also worth stopping nearby so you can take some fantastic shots of it. To the Northern Side, you will find a number of small trails, that you can follow in order to get some great views of the bridge. It is only when you take your time to take in the beauty of the place, when you will be able to understand the significance of the Bixby Canyon Bridge. The massive pillars look like they are coming straight out of the cliffs, while the bridge is rising high above the small beach beneath. Believe us it is definitely a spot that deserves to be added to your travel itinerary!
Are you ready to pack your bags and head to Pfeiffer Beach? We bet you are! This secluded and remote off-the-beaten-path Californian Beach is certainly worth the visit any time of the year. Get to explore the less-known Big Sur area as you are dipping your toes into the purple sandy beaches, checking some historical lighthouses and getting to follow hikes that will take you to breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls!