Rather than a vision of fun in the sun and splashing among curling waves, early morning may see fog hugging the coastline. Big Sur beaches can be cool even in summer, so don’t forget a jacket. And bring sturdy shoes since reaching the beach might require a hike from the parking area.
|Garrapata State Park in Big Sur|
SandDollar Beach: The largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur, this crescent-shaped beach is protected from wind by large bluffs, so the weather is milder. One of the few accessible beaches in southern Big Sur, it is located 14 miles north of the San Luis Obispo County line. That means it was a fairly long drive from our hotel in Carmel.
An inclined path and 99 steps on a well-built stairway lead to down to the beach. A plethora of rocks at the southern end of the beach entice gem-hunters looking for jade and serpentine. Beachcombers scan the sand for washed-up sand dollars when the tide is out (we didn’t find any), and surfers often find this a good place to hang ten.
|Stunning rock formations at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur|
|Feeling the wind at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur|
Cliffs tower above this breathtaking stretch of purple-tinted sand, and a large arch-shaped rock formation called Keyhole Rock just off shore makes for spectacular photo opportunities, especially at sunset. At low tide people can wade through the water to observe surrounding tide pools. Covered by towering, vegetation-heavy bluffs and striking rock formations, the beach’s expansive shoreline feels secluded from so many people streaming down Highway 1. Despite a cold, powerful wind blowing during our April visit, we spent an hour mesmerized by water crashing against the rocks.
|Beach at Andrew Molera State Park is smooth in some sections|
and rocky in others. At times the sand has a purple tint, too.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier and free sources