In the south, Sand Dollar Beach is the longest stretch of beach in Big Sur.
In 1978, about 1.5 million visitors are estimated to have visited the Big Sur Coast.Most of the 3 to 4 million tourists who currently visit Big Sur each year never leave Highway 1, because the adjacent Santa Lucia Range is one of the largest roadless areas near a coast in the entire United States.The original Spanish-language name for the unexplored mountainous terrain south of Monterey, the capital of Alta California, was "el país grande del sur" meaning, "the big country of the south." The boundaries of the region have gradually expanded north and south over time.Esther Pfeiffer Ewoldson, who was born in 1904 and was a granddaughter of Big Sur pioneers Micheal and Barbara Pfeiffer, wrote that the region extended from the Little Sur River 23 miles (37 km) south to Slates Hot Springs.Members of the Harlen family who homesteaded the Lucia region 9 miles (14 km) south of Slates Hot Springs, said that Big Sur was "miles and miles to the north of us." Later on the northern border was extended as far north as Malpaso Creek, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of Carmel River.
Most current descriptions of the area refer to Malpaso Creek in Monterey County as the northern border.
Big Sur is a lightly populated, unincorporated region on California's Central Coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean.
The coast is frequently praised for its rugged coastline and mountain views.
There are a few small, scenic beaches that are accessible to the public and popular for walking, but usually unsuitable for swimming because of unpredictable currents, frigid temperatures, and dangerous surf.
The beach at Garrapata State Park is sometimes rated as the best beach in Big Sur.
The locals petitioned the United States Post Office in Washington D. to use the name Big Sur, and the rubber stamp was returned in 1915, cementing the name in place.