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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur California

Pfeiffer Beach, CA

I looked up dog friendly beaches in the Big Sur area and came across Pfeiffer Beach.  I didn't look into the beach at all, just saw DOG FRIENDLY and BEACH in the same sentence, did a happy dance, and put it on my GPS.  

Well, this beach FAR exceeded any expectations I had for West Coast Beaches.

USA Today readers chose Pfeiffer Beach to be in the Top 10 Beaches in California.  And I totally see why.   "Private property and Big Sur's steep terrain makes most of its coastline inaccessible to the public. Fortunately for the visitor, however, several State Park and U.S. Forest Service beaches are open to the public all year. Pfeiffer beach is one of them". Despite its popularity it was still relatively quiet. 

Sign at the top of the entrance.  Stop and talk to the guard to see if there is parking down below. 

"Pfeiffer Beach is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is off the Pacific Coast Highway about 37 miles south of Carmel, down a narrow, one-lane dirt road. If you have an overly large or overly small vehicle, you might have issues navigating this road, especially if your vehicle is large and there’s oncoming traffic. At the end of the road is a paved parking area with restrooms, and from there, the beach itself is a leisurely 10 minute walk."

Pfeiffer Beach is a Day Use Area, and no overnight camping is allowed.  Hours are 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM 7 days a week.  There is a $10.00 entrance fee to access the park and beach.   Parking can be an issue and there is a guard at the top and bottom of the road to let you know if there are spaces down by the beach. If not, it is a long walk down the dirt road to access the beach.  It was a long drive down this bumpy dirt road. 

The best part, it is a dog friendly beach (on leash). 
Fido can come relax on the beach with you as long as he is on leash. 

Dirt road to get to Pfeiffer Beach 

The worst part? It is a long windy drive down a dirty road that really only has room for cars one way. Drive slow and be patient as there will be a lot of walkers on the road, and cars coming in both directions that you will have to pull over and let pass by at times. 

Finally at the end of the dirt road (I felt a little bad for everyone walking) you will see the parking area, bathrooms, and the welcome sign 

Arches at Pfeiffer Beach 

But when you get there, you are in for a surprise.  The views are phenomenal.  Wide perfect sandy beaches, and these amazing arches and caves. 

Napping Sea Lion on the beach 

Oh, and an extra surprise.  This sea lion decided he was going to haul out and take a nap on the beach.  He ignored everyone around him (his area was coned off) and scooted up on the beach whenever the waves came in too close.  This marine mammal lover was pretty happy at another critter sighting.

That face though! 

Kids watching the napping Sea Lion on the beach 

It was a really fun experience for the kids even though  A: they were farrrr too close and B:  they all thought he was dead or dying.  I am pretty sure he was just hauled out and sunbathing.  I took the time to give a quick lesson on seals vs sea lions.  Everyone should know. 

Arches at Pfeiffer Beach

The caves and arches off these beach are beautiful.  Like holy moly we don't have this stuff back at home.  Watching the wave roll through theses caves was so calming and peaceful.  It was the perfect treat after a long day in the car. 

Arches at Pfeiffer Beach

The beach area was also really nice and relatively empty.  Of course, being the Pacific, the water is quite chilly, and there was an adorable family playing in the surf, all wearing matching wet suits. 

Olive on Pfeiffer Beach 

I wasn't the only one enjoying the day.  Sometimes you just need to feel the sand under your paws and the wind in your ears.  She was so happy sitting on the beach.  This girl loves scampering along the beach and dipping into the water (we did keep her on leash as it is an on leash only area). 

Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach 

One of the most beautiful (and popular) features on this beach is Keyhole Arch.  This beautiful arch just sitting in the surf zone.  Waves rolling through the key hole and spilling onto the beach.  This picture doesn't do it justice. This is a beach and arch you need to see for yourself. 

Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach 

It is a really well known feature along the Pacific Coast, and well documented/photographed feature.  I mean, I knew Pacific had great beaches but this beach was really fully of surprises.   Pacific you are soooooooooo beautiful.

This article talks about the special time of year when photographers swarm the beach to get the perfect light through Keyhole Arch.

Yoga on the beach 

This guy was sitting on the rock, in total zen mode.  What a spot to watch the sunset and reflect.   Big Sur was more beautiful than I could have imagined.  The drive down Highway One, to walking along Pfeiffer Beach, watching the waves roll through caves and arches.  We even spotted some dolphins playing in the surf off the beach

Footprints at Pfeiffer Beach 

 If you are heading to Big Sur and want a beach you can relax on,
 and even bring your dog, this is it.  

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