There's a natural curiosity that exists in geological wonders that defy what many people already believe to be true. For example, the fact that most beaches around the world are home to beige or tan sand. While this is the most common - and most expected - it's also the reason why black-sand beaches or pink-sand beaches are so alluring to travelers. The chance to witness anything out of the ordinary that could be just as, if not more, beautiful, is half the fun of experiencing it.
While many people think that travel out of the U.S. is necessary to bear witness to a pink-sand beach, this is not the case. In fact, the U.S. is home to something even more unbelievable: a pink and purple-sand beach. It's located in California, and it's the one unusual, yet beautiful, beach that travelers in the U.S. won't need to dig out their passports for.
California's Purple Sand Beach
The beach in question is Pfeiffer Beach, which is located in Big Sur. While Big Sur already has a reputation for its absolutely breathtaking cliffside oceanview, Pfeiffer Beach offers visitors a unique view of this expansive shoreline. Not only is it surrounded by massive, rocky cliffs, but it's also home to a unique geological feature called the Keyhole Arch (more on that later). However, it's the sand that most people notice upon taking the first step out onto its sandy shores because it's a beautiful garnet hue of purple.
As if this beach could get any more intriguing, the shade of garnet in the sand is from actual garnet. The gemstone that can be found in the surrounding cliffs can also be found in practically microscopic grains throughout the beach, giving it its signature hue. While every day won't produce a vibrant purple beach, there are some days when the sand is so ingrained with garnet that it almost appears to reflect back in a brilliant shade of dark pink. If visitors can time it right, they might just get lucky enough to witness a sunrise featuring colors that perfectly reflect those on the ground they stand on.
The Best Time To See Garnet-Streaked Sand
Oftentimes, the hue of the sand on Pfeiffer Beach is somewhat random. It all depends on the time of day due to the sun and how light is reflecting, as well as the weather patterns on any given day. More often than not, visitors will have the best chance of seeing its garnet sand just after it rains. When rain and wind land on the surrounding cliffs, manganese garnet flows down and mixes with the sand below, thus resulting in its gorgeous color.
The best time of the year to see these garnet deposits is during the winter and early spring months when the weather is slightly more unpredictable and active than during the summer and fall seasons. However, this doesn't mean that visitors won't have a chance to see purple sand during other times of the year - these are just the best chances for it to occur.
The Keyhole Arch At Pfeiffer Beach
Another fascinating aspect of beaches that happen to be on rocky shores is the unique geological formations that occur as a result. At Pfeiffer Beach, the Keyhole Arch is one of the most photographed of any on California's coastline, and for good reason. This archway is truly spectacular as it was entirely made by Mother Nature (and the unrelenting surf that pounds the shores of the beach).
The most fascinating thing about this arch is the 'doorway' that exists directly in the center of it. While it would seem as though someone carved out the perfect human-sized door, it's completely natural. The effect of the waves cascading through it before making their way up the beach is a surreal sight and one that's best seen at sunset.
Other Things To Note When Visiting Pfeiffer Beach
For those who have never been to this beach before, it might be tempting to jump in the waves - but this is ill-advised. Due to the rocky formation of the surrounding cliffs and the location of the beach cove, the waves are far more powerful here and have the potential to pull beach-goers out to sea.
Therefore, swimming is strongly advised against and the water is usually too cold for wading, anyway. The best way to enjoy this beach is to simply walk its shores, and explore the various rocky walls that serve to shelter its garnet coastline. Walking the length of the beach makes for a great hike, and it's located in Pfeiffer Beach State Park, so there's plenty to see and do once visitors have had their fill of fun in the sun.