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7 Big Sur Beaches to Check Out

7 Big Sur Beaches to Check Out

Big Sur beaches are known for their Pacific views, sea cliffs and alluring spots. Here are the 7 best beaches to check out.

Palig Dzadourian


6 min read

June 07, 2022

The Pacific Coast is part of the big list of reasons why California is considered to be one of the most beautiful and fun places to visit in the world. Located off the Pacific Coast is Big Sur, a place where you’ll be met with stunning views of the coastline, exciting hiking trails, scenic beaches, and amazing sandy dunes. Take a few days off to relax and plan a getaway to the Big Sur beaches, where the calming wave sounds, warm weather, and endless fun await.

1. Big Sur Pfeiffer Beach 

Sunsets at the Big Sur Pfeiffer Beach will leave you in awe.

Big Sur Pfeiffer Beach has one of the best spots that you’ll find on any beaches around this coastline, making it worth the trip. Head south of Big Bur Station onto Highway 1, where the Sycamore Canyon Road will lead you all the way down to this ethereal beach. The part that makes this Big Sur beach so unique is without a doubt the Keyhole Arch, a peculiar rock formation in the shape of an arch, with a small peephole-like opening in its center. The awesome thing about this rock formation is that during the winter months, the position of the hole and the sunset will align, creating an absolutely stunning scene that many have come to call the Light Show.

Another fun aspect of this beach is the patches of purple sand, caused by the manganese garnet that has trickled down from the surrounding mountains after rainfall. While the entire beach isn’t purple, you will come across many purple-colored patches of sand, adding to the uniqueness of this Big Sur Beach.

It is not recommended to visit during the busiest hours of the day as it is a very popular location; the best time to come to this beach is either early morning or later afternoon. There is an entrance fee of $12, with dogs also being welcome as long as they are on a leash.

2. Sand Dollar Beach

Let the waves of Sand Dollar Beach lull your worries away.

The Sand Dollar Beach is the Big Sur surfing experience you need in your life. Popular among surfers, beginners and professionals alike, its wide variety of small and towering waves makes it the ideal location to surf in the Golden State. Located in the southern part of the Big Sur Coast, halfway between Cambria and Big Sur Station, the beautiful Sand Dollar Beach remains to be one of the most frequented beaches in the area. Plaskett Creek Campground is right next to the beach, which means there are a lot of campers and visitors during the day. A good thing, however, is that it is a very wide and long sandy beach, so the number of people visiting will not really be something that bothers you.

After surfing and walking along the shore, the Jade Cove awaits, just south of the Sand Dollar Beach, where you can go exploring, and discover this stunning landmark. Jade Cove is named after the many Jade crystals found in it, and if you are lucky enough you might find a few yourself! The high-quality ones have mostly been taken but there are still a few pieces of the beautiful Monterey Jades lying around.

3. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park 

Who wouldn’t want to visit this beach after seeing the azure hues and incredible views that come with it?

Not to be confused with Pfeiffer Beach, checking out Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is definitely worth the effort if you are looking for a safer area of the Big Sur coastline. As the waves around the Big Sur Beaches can be a bit treacherous, it is not the safest place to have your kids swimming around, and that’s where Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park comes in. It is one of the safest locations to bring your kids to because the park will lead you into the Bixby Creek Bridge where you can find shallow swimming holes for beginner swimmers.

This Big Sur beach is also home to the iconic McWay falls, an 80-foot-tall waterfall that makes for some of the most majestic views you will ever see. While you can’t access the beach under the waterfalls, you can get close to it and take in the splendor of this natural phenomenon. The McWay falls is actually one of two waterfalls that are considered to be pretty special, as it is created by the water that flows from the McWay Creek which falls directly into the ocean.

Another great thing about this Big Sur beach is the whale watching you can do from the observation deck above the falls, which you can access by hiking trails, which are even accessible for wheelchairs.

4. Kirk Creek Campground Beach

The mesmerizing view of Kirk Creek is not something you’d want to miss out on.

Another amazing Big Sur beach California location you shouldn’t miss out on is the Kirk Creek Campground beach, where you’ll be met with one of the most paradisiacal sceneries on the Big Sur coast. If you are interested in spending a night in this wonderful campground, you can set up your tents and take in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness. As an added bonus, there are trails that will lead you to the rocky beach right below the campsite, where the soft white sand of the Big Sur Coastline awaits. Spending the night near the beach has never been so exciting.

There are also some hiking trails you can check out after a satisfying day at the beach, The Vicente Flats Trail, and a few others that lead into the Los Padres National Forest, another great location to visit for nature lovers in the Golden State.

5. Willow Creek Picnic Area

Visit the Willow Creek Picnic Area for a day to remember.

While the Willow Creek Picnic Area isn’t as popular or frequented as some other Big Sur beaches, it is still well worth including in your itinerary. Since it is not as well known, there are far fewer visitors in this area, letting you experience the beach without having to worry about crowds. The only part of this area that might get a bit crowded is the view above the Willow Creek Picnic Area, but the beach remains empty most of the time, so you will definitely be able to have it all for yourselves. There are bathrooms and places to sit to relax, and possibly have a picnic and enjoy a meal while you hear the waves crashing on the beach.

6. Andrew Molera State Park 

Take in the wonders of the surrounding sceneries of Big Sur at Andrew Molera State Park.

Andrew Molera State Park is the largest park on the Big Sur Coast. With vast shorelines, redwood and sycamore groves, and trails you can walk on, it is certainly one of the best Big Sur Beaches to visit. With how large this park is, it is better to experience it on wheels and take in the majestic sceneries of the beach from a vehicle. There are many scenic drives to take on Big Sur, and Andrew Molera State Park is one of them.

During the warmer seasons, you can even cross the Big Sur River on the footbridge that is provided for visitors but is only available during those specific times of the year. There are an endless amount of things to do on Big Sur’s beaches, and Andrew Molera State Park has tons, including surfing, horseback riding tours, camping, and even wildlife educational programs with the Ventana Wildlife Society Big Sur Discovery Center.

7. Garrapata State Park 

Fall in love with the absolutely gorgeous views at the Garrapata State Park beach, don’t miss out!

Two miles of stunning beachfront, putting the Garrapata State Park on this list is a no-brainer, it is without a doubt worth the trip. With breathtaking coastal trails, the 50-foot climb up to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will take your breath away. Once you reach the sanctuary you will be met with a variety of activities to do such as whale watching, wildlife viewing, and much more.

Although swimming at Garrapata beach is not recommended due to how dangerous it is, you can walk along the astonishing coastal trails, along the redwoods and vast meadows brimming with life and vegetation, for a calming yet memorable day out on the beautiful Pacific Coast.

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