Pfeiffer Beach is a purple sand paradise and a photographer’s dream. Though it’s on an isolated stretch of Highway 1 in Big Sur, and down an unmarked one-lane road, it’s worth the drive just to see the massive rocks towering over the shoreline and waves crashing into glorious sea caves.
Atmosphere: This is the kind of pseudo-secret beach that attracts only those in the know, as well as photographers hoping to catch a supreme sunset. Tourists and nature lovers staying or stopping in Big Sur park on this quiet beach for a surreptitious drink or cozy snuggle.
Parking and Entrance: The road to Pfeiffer Beach must be called something, but it’s not marked. The only signage reads “narrow road,” so don’t be surprised if you miss it the first time. On the one-lane road, you must pull over occasionally to let oncoming traffic pass. Park in the day use area and walk through old-growth trees along a flat, stroller-accessible dirt path.
Nice Walks and Views: Great views earn their name here. Spend the afternoon playing in the waves on the wide beach and then marvel at the sun as it drops behind the rocks and into the sea caves. The beach backs up to some beautiful bluffs too, so the view is great from any direction.
Activities for Toddlers: Pfeiffer Beach has some giant seaweed ropes for a wild game of jump rope or just for dragging around on the sand. While the sea caves are pretty, there are some areas where water rushes in so take care of your toddler’s safety first.
Bathrooms: The only bathrooms are chemical toilets located in the parking lot, quite a walk back from the beach.
Perks for Parents: No water sports here. Fall in love with your family all over again as you bask in dusk’s glow.
Where to Stay with Kids: Big Sur’s lodging can be very expensive. A reasonably priced, family-friendly option is the Ripplewood Resort. Each cabin has a kitchen with utensils and pans, and there’s a restaurant on site. No TV in the rooms to complete the rustic experience. If you’re just passing through, call it a night in either Monterey, San Simeon or Moonstone Beach/Cambria.
Baby-friendly Restaurants: There are limited amenities in Big Sur, and the main restaurants are fancy and romantic. To keep costs down, buy groceries before you get on Highway 1 in Carmel or Cambria. If you do need to stock up, visit Big Sur Deli for any food or supplies.
What Else to Do: Bring the baby carrier to hike around the numerous state parks and natural areas.