Pfeiffer Beach: Purple Sand & Keyhole Arch in Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach is one of my favorite spots along Highway 1 and one of the best beaches in Big Sur. The beach is tucked away in a cove and has large rocks out in the water, purple sand after it rains and the famous Keyhole Arch rock.
Read more about it at
See all the gear I use here
Pfeiffer Beach (Big Sur, California)
PFEIFFER BEACH - Landscape Photography USA
In this episode of Photographing USA, we're visiting Pfeiffer Beach which is one of the most fascinating seascape locations in California which says a lot! Here I show my approach to this landscape.
MILKY WAY COMPOSITE TUTORIAL:
Pfeiffer Beach was one of the must-see locations on our journey and also a location, which requires a certain kind of weather at the right time of year to get the optimal experience. At Pfeiffer Beach, there’s a huge and fascinating rock formation with a keyhole, where the sun shines through during sunset. Dependent on the time of year the effect is more or less visible. In a short period, you’ll even be able to catch the sun directly through the keyhole and make a sun star.
Pfeiffer Beach is located in the Big Sur region of California and is a bit tricky to find since you will not see the sign with the name of the beach before you’ve turned off the Cabrillo highway. Coming from the north along the Cabrillo highway you’ll have to turn right down the Sycamore Canyon road, which is located around half a mile after the Big Sur Ranger Station. Just before the Sycamore Canyon road, there’s a turn-in on your left with some piles of gravel. After the right turn, you just follow the road all the way to the end. When you’ve parked the car you just follow the paths to the beach and you won’t miss the rock formation.
I had a few different ideas for this location, which both involved a golden hour picture and a night picture. For the golden hour picture, my goal was to get some water streaks as foreground, which leads the eye into the picture to the rock formation and the keyhole, where the sun hopefully would shine through. The main problem is just that the waves wash in from the sides, so to get the right direction of the waves requires a lot of patience. I stood in the water waiting for the right wave for a bit more than an hour. In regard to the light, I didn’t get the sunburst, but the sun made a beautiful sun streak in the water vapor from the waves. To get the sunburst or to get the sun streak in the water or on the ground you’ll have to catch a narrow window 1-2 weeks before and after the winter solstice.
The foreground changes from season to season and dependent on low-tide and high-tide you’ll get some different results. You also have to figure out how you’ll compose the picture when you’re there, should it be vertical or horizontal, should the main object – in this case, the rock formation – be in the upper or lower part of the picture and so on. You can’t always predict everything, so you’ll have to work with how the situation is at the given time. These are all things you need to take into account while securing your camera gear from the waves and trying to keep your tripod still.
Keeping the tripod from sliding during a long exposure, when a wave washes in can be a bit tricky. I get around it by pushing the tripod as long into the sand as possible, but that comes with the risk of filling your tripod with both sand, dust, and salt, which can really take its toll on the tripod. You’ll need a rather sturdy and good quality tripod for something like this to work.
For the night picture, I knew the Milky Way lined up perfectly with the rock formation, but sadly the time of year wasn’t optimal at all. The best part of the Milky Way was below the horizon and the moon was around half, so it lit up the entire sky, which made it hard to even see the Milky Way. I made a few long exposures, which turned out pretty good, but I knew exactly what I came for, so I worked around the problem in the editing phase by stitching the pictures I made this evening together with a better Milky Way picture I took a couple of weeks later in Death Valley.
In regard to the lens, I’d recommend a 16-35mm. I struggled a bit with my verticals, where I felt the lens wasn’t wide enough, but it turned out just perfect under my conditions, but that’s without being able to crop in post. For horizontals it was perfect. You might also want something which can zoom beyond the
Travel with me to Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur (Hwy 1), Monterey, San Francisco, and Muir Woods Part 2
Hi guys, travel with me to Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur (Hwy. 1), Monterey, San Francisco, and Muir Woods California Vacay Part 2. Come along with us as we celebrate our 22nd anniversary. We wanted to bring our kiddos with us this time. I hope you enjoy the beautiful sites and scenery too! Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of California who have been affected by the fires.
We hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for watching friends! ~ Jessica:) Xo
A visit to Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur California
A visit to Pfeiffer Beach. It was so windy which added to the wind chill when I visited this beach. The waves were ferocious as it crashed on the e rocky formations. The fact that it was so windy, and the waves were so angry, made it even that much beautiful. Well this is not a beach where you can go swim when I went that day. Maybe in other times it would have been okay. I only spent less than an hour here. But I wish I spent more. I arrived close to sunset. All footage was shot with an iPhone 5. music credit to CarbonStrike
If you like these videos, please also check out and subscribe to my other social media pages:
Top 10. Best Tourist Attractions in Big Sur -Travel California
Top 10. Best Tourist Attractions and Beautiful places in Big Sur -Travel California: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls, Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Limekiln State Park, Ragged Point, Point Sur State Historic Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Coast Gallery Big Sur
Big Sur: 8 Things to do on a Highway 1 Road Trip
Big Sur is one of the most amazing places in California and one of the most spectacular coastlines in the United States. I always love getting the chance to explore it and with summer right around the corner, I figured people would be planning their own Big Sur road trip and so I wanted to share a few of my favorite spots.
Read more about Big Sur here
Limekiln Video -
Partington Cove Video -
Pfeiffer Beach Video -
Point Sur Lighthouse Video -
See all the gear I use here
Amazing Hidden Purple Sand Beach! Big Sur Road Trip with Kids: California Central Coast Travel Guide
Visiting Big Sur, California: Hiking the Valley View Trail at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, and the hidden purple sand Pfeiffer Beach.
Purchase your National Geographic books here:
YouTube had turned off our comments. If you want to reach us, please check out our Facebook page:
Purchase official Bloggineers merchandise:
❤️ Tip jar for TeamBrother college fund:
Watch more episodes ►
Support us by shopping:
Look Who's Blogging is the best family travel vlog that explores SoCal from the kids' perspective. We visit amusement parks, museums, festivals, and other family friendly attractions. Subscribe so you won't miss an episode of our YouTube kids travel videos!
#familytravel #seemonterey #NatGeoKidsAlmanac
BIG SUR - USA Travel Guide | Around The World
Big Sur is a region on the Central Coast of California. It contains vast wildernesses and breathtaking views as it stretches 90 miles along the rugged Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles. The area is great for outdoor recreation and contains several state parks, two national wilderness areas and is part of the Los Padres National Forest, all of which include hiking trails. The most common visitors to Big Sur are those just driving through to enjoy the scenery. The next most common activity is hiking/backpacking in the open natural spaces.
California Highway 1 (also known as Pacific Coast Highway) winds through Big Sur flanked by the steep Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and the rocky Pacific Coast to the west. Big Sur begins just south of Carmel and continues south through the small towns of Big Sur Village (between Andrew Molera State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park), Lucia, and Gorda. It ends in San Simeon (where the Hearst Castle is located). When driving on Highway 1 through Big Sur be sure to stop at the many turnouts and vista points to see the beauty of the area.
Big Sur Village is a mile-long village containing gas stations, roadside markets, lodges and restaurants.
Big Sur is known as a destination for the Merry Pranksters in the 1960s. For more information visit the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, which is continually updated with a Calendar of Events.
Bixby Bridge, 11 miles north of Big Sur Village. Iconic bridge built in 1933. One of the most photographed in the world because of its location within such beautiful scenery.
Henry Miller Memorial Library, Highway 1, a quarter mile south of Nepenthe Restaurant, 831-667-2574. Wi-Fi internet access.
Point Sur Lighthouse, 5 miles north of Big Sur Village. Point Sur is a dominant feature along Highway 1. It is a National Historic Landmark and is one of the only complete turn-of-the-century light stations open to the public in California. Allegedly one of the most haunted places in America. Spectacular views can be had from atop Point Sur. Tours (3 hours) are offered - meet west side of highway at farm gate a quarter mile north of Pt Sur Naval Facility. Winter times Sa, Su 10AM, W 1PM. $10 adult, $5 children.
McWay Falls, 12 miles south of Big Sur Village. One of the most spectacular places anywhere in Big Sur. The falls drop 80 feet onto the beach or tide. There is a hike out to a view point but it can also be seen from the road just before Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
New Camaldoli Hermitage, located in Lucia off Highway 1 (25 miles south of Big Sur village), 831-667-2456,. Monastery offering guided retreats, also sells gifts and food items.
Hiking/backpacking - There are over 80 day hikes, varying in length and difficulty. There are hikes to beaches and vistas along the coast, along rivers and through canyons, and through redwood forests in the Santa Lucia Mts. For longer and more remote adventures, backpacking is an option. There are hundreds of miles of trails through the region, particularly the Ventana Wilderness. Be prepared and know what you are doing before going backpacking in the Wilderness. More information can be found at the Big Sur Ranger Station located 3 miles south of Big Sur Village, 831-667-2315. NOTE: Always check conditions before hiking or backpacking. Hiking areas in Big Sur can be closed down in winter due to mudslides. Know before you go.
Beaches - Remote and pristine beaches are accessible. Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, and Sand Dollar Beach are the most commonly visited.
Saturdays in Big Sur (Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls)
Stunning footage of Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls in Big Sur, CA. Pfeiffer Beach is a beautiful unmarked (hidden) beach. McWay Falls is a protected waterfall in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Visit imwaytoobusy.com for more Big Sur travel inspiration.
Limekiln State Park: Historic Kilns & a Waterfall in Big Sur
Limekiln State Park is one of my favorites in the Big Sur area. This park has shaded trails with large redwoods that lead to a waterfall and a historic kiln. It's a great spot to camp or to explore for a few hours.
Read more at
See all the gear I use here
Top 10. Beautiful Beaches in California - United States
Top 10. Beautiful Beaches in California - United States: Point Lobos State Reserve, La Jolla Cove, Carmel City Beach, Asilomar State Beach, Moonstone Beach Cambria, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Big Sur, La Jolla Shores Park La Jolla, Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur, Crystal Cove State Park Laguna Beach, Point Reyes Seashore National Park
Monterey to Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area Pacific Coast Hwy:
Traveling south from Monterey, CA to an amazing beach in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Travel Vlog Playlist:
Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area:
Pfeiffer State Park:
MUSIC: Space Coast by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park 2016
Took a weekend trip to Big Sur with a couple of friends on 2/27-2/28 and these are the hikes we went on.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a state park in Monterey County, California
Big Sur Road Trip 2019 California Highway 1
Big Sur is one of the most amazing places on the West Coast and absolutely one of the most spectacular coastlines in the United States. This is a top 10 bucket List adventure. Everywhere you look you always see a breathtaking amazing view. There are so many Vistas to stop along the way down Highway 1. Our favorites were McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach and Garrapata Beach/Calla Lily Valley. You could definatley spend a week or two just exploring and hiking.
Social Media Links:
Amazon products we love:
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
We stopped for a picnic at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Big Sur update
Access to Pfeiffer Beach is limited.
Subscribe to KSBW on YouTube now for more:
Get more Monterey news:
Big sur california | things to do in big sur
Here are 3 places to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, California.
Big Sur is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s traversed by narrow, 2-lane State Route 1, known for winding turns, seaside cliffs and views of the often-misty coastline. The sparsely populated region has numerous state parks for hiking, camping and beachcombing.
Big Sur is a beautiful area and Highway 1 offers many breathtaking stops. Here are my favorite! Hopefully they help you pick a few great stops for your next California road trip!
1. Bixby Bridge
3. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Subscribe to our channel for new adventures videos :)
big sur california | big sur trip | big sur road trip | big sur tour | 1
big sur landslide | highway 1 california | lake tahoe | tahoe lake | pfeiffer big sur state park | big sur california camping | big sur california drive
travel, hotel, insurance, travel insurance, tourism, Adventure, Culture, Big Sur (Statistical Region), Horse (Domesticated Animal), Ride, Road Trip (Media Genre), Nature, Calfornia, Wine (Industry), Big Sur - Location, California State Route 1 - Highway, Pacific Coast Highway, Ventana Spa, Spa, United States Of America (Country), Pacific Ocean (Body Of Water), Bota Box, Redwood Forest
Drive to Pfeiffer Beach super dangerous...