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The Trek to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur (California, USA)

Labor Day Weekend recently passed! Instead of going on weekend trips and getting drunk like many others, I spent my weekend hanging out with my mom. I wanted to go on a day trip with her because she’s leaving to Hong Kong in October. So we ended up doing a mother-daughter trip out to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur. I had attempted to visit Pfeiffer Beach in the past with Heesun and our other friend Nick, but when we had arrived it was unfortunately closed. This time, I drove down with mere hopes that the same thing wouldn’t happen again.

Most people go to Big Sur to hike and camp, but since it was a hot, sunny day I wanted to lay out on the well-known Pfeiffer Beach that has purple sand!

pfeiffer beach purple sand

At around noon, my mom and I packed up some leftovers for lunch and proceeded to drive down from the bay area. Without traffic it would have been around a 2 hour 15 minute drive. But there were so many accidents on the road that we ended up getting to Big Sur around 4 PM or so.

The Drive to Big Sur

The view from the drive down is gorgeous once you pass Monterey. You get to drive along the coast and cross Bixby Bridge – a sick arch bridge made in the 1930s.

carmel beach coast big sur

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The drive down!

bixby bridge

Bixby Bridge

There were so many cars parked on the sides because everyone wanted to get out and soak in the scenery. We realized that Labor Day Weekend was probably not the best time to visit Big Sur because everyone was headed there for a mini trip. This conjecture was further confirmed when we finally arrived. Excited to get out of the car, we took the sharp right turn towards the destination only to be stopped by workers who told us that parking was full. In fact, the car before us was the last to be let in (until other cars left). Just our luck.

The Walk Down to Pfeiffer Beach

We decided to find some street parking and walk down instead as we saw a lot of people doing the same. It couldn’t be too long of a walk right? Once we arrived, people told us it would be a 2 mile walk down. For someone who rarely gets her exercise in, I found this rather unfortunate. Initially I was ready to conquer the trail. Walking downhill wasn’t that bad. But because the trail was so narrow and cars were driving back and forth, it wasn’t as relaxing as it should have been. It was hilarious because my mom and I would optimistically tell each other “I’m so glad we’re doing this” and “this is great for our health”. But halfway in my mom laughed saying “we should just hitchhike a ride back”.

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur

We were ecstatic upon arriving to the beach. Once we got there we switched to flip flops and laid out some towels.

Unfortunately, we could only see a patch of purple sand.

purple sand big sur pfeiffer beach

Purple sand…can you see it?

It was windy when we got there so sometimes sand annoyingly blew in my face. Maybe that’s why there wasn’t that much purple sand that day? But besides that, I really enjoyed the view of the beach.

big sur pfeiffer beach

big sur pfeiffer beach

Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool

big sur pfeiffer beach

Kids playing in a random little pond at the beach

Hitchiking Back?!

After leaving the beach, we decided we were not ready for the 2 mile trudge back to the car. So, I decided to ask random people for a ride back. My mom and I are quite introverted so I think she was surprised that I approached strangers for this purpose. The first couple we asked had just arrived to the beach, but the 2nd agreed to help us out. Initially, they seemed a bit unwilling so we felt bad hassling them and told them “Nevermind! It’s okay”. But they let us in anyway, and once we got in the car the couple was extremely warm to us. People are a lot nicer than you’d think. During the drive a bunch of people outside were raising their thumbs in hopes that they could hitchhike a ride too. And as we saw a bunch of cars struggle to get around each other on the narrow path, my mom and I couldn’t help but feel relieved that we didn’t drive down the path for parking. Especially with my sub-par driving skills, it would have been super difficult. We were very grateful everything had worked out.


Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is a great place to check out if you haven’t before. Though I didn’t get to see much purple sand, Heesun said she saw a lot when she was out there. I guess it just depends on the day you go. Also, it was my first time “hitchhiking” (though it barely counted)! Hitching a ride basically saved our lives.

If you decide to check out Pfeiffer Beach, choose a random day to visit so the place isn’t bombarded with tourists. And make sure to wear sneakers if you’re going to walk down the path, and bring sandals for the beach!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Julie @ Millennial Boss
    June 1, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I just did Big Sur over Memorial Day Weekend! You’re totally right that holiday weekends there get crazy!

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