Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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Pfeiffer Beach in the heart of Big Sur is one of the region's most popular beaches, drawing tourists, locals, photographers, and many a Highway 1 road-tripper to its scenic coves and famed sea arch rocks. Framed by tall sandstone cliffs, the beach contains a series of coves that are well suited to beach combing, as well as some unique near-shore rock formations containing good tide pools.

A major draw at Pfeiffer beach is the increasingly renowned Keyhole Rock, through which a nearly plumb and true sea arch can frame spectacular photographs at the interplay of sunsets and ocean mist. During December and January, when the sun sets at it’s furthest south, sunsets can be captured through the keyhole. Arrive early if you are attempting to take shots of the keyhole, as the prime photographic real estate can go quickly.

Managed by Parks Management Company, Pfeiffer Beach is distinct from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is located to the north and across Highway 1. Pfeiffer Beach requires a separate day use fee. The beach is one of the few ocean access points within Big Sur and the only ocean access between Andrew Molera State Park to the north and Partington Cove to the south.

Finding the beach for a first-time visit can be slightly tricky. The road at the end of which Pfeiffer Beach is located, Sycamore Canyon Road, is unsigned and can be difficult to see. Sycamore Canyon Road is located on the west side of Highway 1, a quarter mile south of the Big Sur Ranger Station. 

Dogs are allowed on Pfeiffer Beach on leash.

Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass

Parking Fee


Stunning sunsets. Keyhole rock. Dog friendly.


Can be difficult to find.


Tide pools
Tide pools



Sunset updates from winter 2017 including shots the small cave system on this beach.
Occasionally Pfeiffer Beach experiences high winds which create beautiful rainbows from mist blown off the crashing waves.
Photo updates from October 2015
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