Pfeiffer Beach: The Phenomenal Purple Sand Beach

Pfeiffer Beach is situated in Big Sur, California. It is one of the most famous beaches on the Central Coast and apart from its purple color, it is famous for Keyhole Rock, which is a popular photogenic location here.

This is a really mesmerizing and pristine beach. It is well worth a visit, with stunning views of sea pillars,  rock formations, and occasionally suitable for surfing. Facing the west, it is a great place for sunset photography, especially the purple beach, which adds dreamy vibes to it. 

Thus, Pfeiffer Beach, along with Bixby Creek Bridge and McWay Falls, is one of Big Sur’s worthy attractions. It is also one of the most gorgeous beaches in Monterey. So, do remember to explore this hidden and unspoiled gem, and experience the bliss all by yourself.

Visit the official website to get more details.

Best Time To Visit

The perfect time to visit Pfeiffer Beach is in Autumn, from September to November. At this point, the summer crowds have receded, and you can enjoy a less crowded experience at Pfeiffer Beach.

If you want to watch the sun through the keyhole arch at sunset, please visit between November and January. Keep in mind that it is more likely to rain in winter and spring, but if your main motivation for going to the beach is to see purple sand, then rain may be in your favor.  

What To Do At Pfeiffer Beach? 

Purple Sand

You can expect to attain true bliss and lots of fun, at this place. The extraordinary purple sands of Pfeiffer Beach will conquer your heart and fascinate your senses. Let us tell you that the purple color is the result of manganese deposits scouring onto the beach from neighboring hills. 

If it has just rained, the purple streaks will be more pronounced, which is usually the case in winter and early spring in California. But you can also find purple sand at other times as well. 

Keyhole Arch

The other thing which will attract you to Pfeiffer Beach is the Keyhole Arch. It can be seen as soon as you see the panoramic view of the beach. Its tip is slightly curved and its size is majestic. It is a majestic sight.

The natural arch is right on the beach, and you can spend a few hours admiring the fascinating view of the waves rushing into the small “door” of the arch, and then pour into the sand. 

Savor the Enchanting Sunsets

This beach is also a heaven for stunning sunsets. In the evening when the sun sets, the sky is immersed in orange, pink, and purple tones, creating a dramatic backdrop for the beautiful arch. It is truly Photography heaven! “Golden hour”  here is truly magical. 

Stunning Rock Formations

In addition to this, Pfeiffer Beach has other amazing rock formations for you to admire and take photos. You can also do adventure activities like rock climbing here.

However, we don’t recommend to do swimming in Pfeiffer Beach, because the currents here may be dangerous. And, the water will be freezing cold here. But playing in the sand is allowed, and it’s fun! Watch out for surfers in the water, and for marine life and birds. 

Walk on the Shore

While, you can walk along the pristine beach, enjoy the sprawling scenery from all angles and relax at the shore. Whing strolling, you can also see the Sycamore Canyon Creek Pool in the sand.  


  • Beach is open daily from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. And parking spaces are extremely limited. Fortunately, the beach is never crowded, but the parking lot fills up quickly, especially on weekends, during the tourist season (May to October), within an hour. 
  • The parking fee, at the time of arrival, is $12.00. Neither the National Parks Pass nor the California State Parks passes is accepted here.
  • Dogs on leash are allowed. Washrooms and picnic spots are available near parking.
  • No swimming is allowed here.
  • On weekdays, if you arrive before 11:00 in the morning, you should secure parking space for a picnic lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Also, please check the terms and conditions before you go.
  • The beach facilities are basic, and snacks are not sold in the park. The closest place to eat is in Big Sur Village. You must pay an entrance fee that includes a parking space. Mobile phone service in this area may be very inadequate, and local facilities may not provide WiFi. 

You can also visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which is nearby. It is named after one of Big Sur’s most popular pioneers and is very popular with locals and tourists. The park is a feast for the eyes, with 7 iconic hiking trails that lead visitors to hidden bays, waterfalls, miles of streams, redwoods, and more.

There are many other fascinating places in Big Sur like Mcway falls, Yosemite national park, redwood forests, etc, which are worth a visit.

Thus, Pfeiffer beach is a phenomenal and stunning location that will amaze you with its purple color sand and other wonders. It is definitely a great visit, when in Big Sur.

Planning your trip to Big Sur? Do Check out other beautiful wonders in Big Sur, read our blog on Mcway Falls.