Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach is an interesting spot. There is an ample, but not huge, parking lot and a shower to rinse off sandy feet. A creek flows into the ocean, providing a tame spot for little ones to play. The beach is wide and spacious and filled with nice, soft sand. To the north is a long sandy stretch of smooth sand and no rocks. The south portion offers more variety. You walk under the pier and the sand near the sandstone cliffs gives way to a more pebbled surface. It's common to see people searching the stones and pebbles for souvenirs as stones come in an assortment of shapes and colors (green, red, blue-gray, white and black are common) that may or may not include banded stripes. Although tempting, please leave the beach as you find it.

A little farther down, when the tide is low, you'll find tide pools. These aren't exceptional, but enough to see sea anemones, crabs, and other tide pool denizens. You may see the occasional elephant seal lazing around. Down shore several miles is a large rookery of these massive creatures (not accessible from this beach). It's not a popular surf spot, but because of the pier, surfers occasionally appear if conditions are just right.

The location is beautiful. If you're looking for the classic Southern California beach with palm trees and hot weather, this isn't it. Rather, despite being located on California's Central Coast, it carries a distinct Northern California vibe. It's located on the southern end of Big Sur and is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Directly across the street is the entrance road to the famed Hearst Castle. If you're lucky, you may see some of Hearst's zebras walking around in the 83,000-acre enclosure as you drive Highway 1 to San Simeon's beach. Descendent elk from Hearst's zoo also roam the golden hills. These animals have been living freely on Hearst's ranch since 1958, when the state of California took over the estate, and today they exist as wild herds.

Even on a sunny day, this beach is breezy and on the cool side. During summer, the hot inland hills pull the Pacific's moisture onshore, creating a fog bank that is perpetually in some stage of rolling in or just off-shore, but never quite going away entirely. Incidentally, this same fog is what makes those inland hills so desirable for growing wines, and vineyards are plentiful.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Tidepools. Sand. Nice for walking. Amenities nearby.


Breezy. Often foggy.

Pets allowed



Tide pools
Picnic tables


Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California


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