Pfeiffer Beach (run by the National Forest Service) is a hidden gem where you may be able to escape the crowds clogging up all the other beaches and state parks along highway 1 in the Big Sur area of California. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, the Pfeiffer Beach isn’t marked with a sign along highway 1 so you would drive right on by it unless you knew exactly where to turn. Coming south on highway 1, it is 0.5 miles past the US Forest Service Ranger Station. You make a tight right turn when you see the yellow “Narrow Road” sign (which you need to be looking for because it’s hidden a bit too — there is no sign for “Pfeiffer Beach”). About 100 yards down the road you will get confirmation that you are one the correct road when you see this sign:
The second reason that less people go to this beach is that the next two miles of road down to the beach are mostly one lane so that campers and RVs can’t make it down it. Combine the lack of marking and the no RVs and you have a beach that, although beautiful, gets a lot less traffic than the other beaches in the Big Sur area.
The beach has plenty of sand with a number of rocky outcrops just offshore, many with arches and tunnels within them:
There is a small creek that runs down the beach and empties into the ocean. Sea lions playing in the waves just offshore when I was there and the many rocks outcroppings (which also make Pfeiffer beach part of the California Coastal National Monument) were the home of sea birds and resting sea lions. There is a $5 fee to enter. If interested, here are more photos of Pfeiffer Beach. It’s definitely a beach to visit, especially when the crowds at the other main stops are beginning to get to you.