Sitting below impressive cliffs on the southern Big Sur coastline you will find a crescent shaped stretch of sand, known as Sand Dollar Beach.


This is the longest, and perhaps easiest to access, beach on the Big Sur coast. And it’s gorgeous.

A perfect spot for a walk or a picnic.

So what is a ‘sand dollar’ anyway? 

The closest I’ve seen to a sand dollar at home is a sand-dollar-inspired tree decoration in Pottery Barn’s recent nautical Christmas range.

Thankfully Wikipedia is on hand to tell us that a real sand dollar is a flattened, burrowing sea urchin. When alive they are apparently covered in velvety spines which they use to move across the seabed. Fashionable and clever. 

What we find on northern hemisphere beaches is essentially their little skeletons, bleached white by sunlight.

On our visit to their namesake beach we did happily find a few sand dollars lying around the place.

Here’s one right here  –


In addition to sun-bleached former sea urchins, this is also a popular beach for surfers with a good left break on the southern end, best on a high tide.

We also spotted this sole stand up paddle boarder, cruising the waves. It looked very peaceful out there.


It was a bit cool for a swim on our visit. But go ahead, follow my lead and dip your feet in at least!


If your beach walk has you feeling like a longer stroll, there’s a small bluff trail above the beach, heading south.

There’s also the Jade Cove and Pacific Valley Bluff trails within a few miles of Sand Dollar Beach. Plenty of short walks with breathtaking ocean views in this area!

Trip Notes:

  • Sand Dollar Beach is on the southern end of the Big Sur coast, just 3 miles north from Treebones Resort.


  • If you’re lucky, you might even find find jade and serpentine among the rocks at this beach. There are limits on what you can take, so best to look into this before going.



  • Signage for the beach is not great and it’s not so easy to spot from the road as it sits out of view below the cliffs. Our tip – keep your eye out for the Pacific Valley School. On the ocean side of the school you’ll find the Sand Dollar Picnic Area carpark. Beach access is via some stairs.


  • Parking in the picnic area carpark costs $10, with little envelopes for your money if the booth is unattended. You could easily just park a little way away from this carpark, on the side of the road, there’s plenty of room.


  • Keep in mind there is no lifeguard on duty here, so swimming is probably best left to strong swimmers only!

Sign up below to get updates sent directly to your inbox

No Comments

Post a Comment