When you’re driving through Big Sur, you’ll see a lot of ocean. But you won’t see that much beach. That’s because Big Sur’s coastline is mostly rocky, and those cliffs are a big part of its charm. If you get the urge to take a walk on the beach (as we did after a nice lunch at Nepenthe), head to Pfieffer Beach (pictured above). You’ll love it — as long as you can find it.
Our Fodors Northern California 2009 guidebook had good directions, so we found Pfeiffer Beach on the second try. The road to the beach off Highway 1 doesn’t have a sign, so you look for the ungated, unsigned road heading west from Highway 1 between the Pfieffer Big Sur State Park and the post post. Don’t feel bad if you miss it a few times. Once you’re on the correct road, there is a sign that says Pfeiffer Beach not too far down so you can relax knowing that you’re going teh right way. According to the guidebook, the road to the beach is two miles long. It feels longer, though, because it’s a bumpy, one-lane winding road.
Pfeiffer beach was hold-on-to-your-hat windy when we were there at the end of April, but it was still worth the detour. The wind and waves have resulted in some beautiful rock formations. The sunsets there are supposed to be terrific. If we had stayed long enough to watch the sun go down, I’m sure we would have been blown away (pun intended).