Pfeiffer Beach

Beach in Big Sur

Image by Getty Images

This phenomenal, crescent-shaped and dog-friendly beach is known for its huge double-rock formation, through which waves crash with life-affirming power. It’s often windy, and the surf is too dangerous for swimming. But dig down into the wet sand – it’s purple! That’s because manganese garnet washes down from the craggy hillsides above. To get here from Hwy 1, make a sharp right onto Sycamore Canyon Rd, marked by a small yellow sign that says ‘narrow road’ at the top.

From the turnoff, which is a half-mile south of Big Sur Station on the ocean side of Hwy 1, it’s two narrow, twisting miles down to the beach (RVs and trailers prohibited).