With hikes, beaches, and waterfalls, there really is no bad time to visit Big Sur, California. After all, the nature in the area is pretty much always stunning. That said, the real question is when is the best time to visit Big Sur for you. Do you prefer warmer temperatures? Smaller crowds? Festival fun?
If that seems like a lot of factors to consider, don’t worry! We’ve got everything figured out for you (and even have a full Big Sur itinerary for you here) – all you have to do is read on!
To start, here is a month-by-month breakdown of the weather in Big Sur.
Weather in Big Sur
Given that Big Sur is on the coast of California, there isn’t a whole lot of temperature or weather variation. But there is enough of a change that the month you travel will likely affect your experience in Big Sur.
Weather in Big Sur in January
As expected, January is one of the coldest months in Big Sur, but even then it’s not that cold. The average high is 16 degrees Celsius, and the average low is 6 degrees Celsius. January also happens to be one of the wettest months in town with a solid eight days of rain – and 23 days of sun!
Surprisingly these colder, rainier temperatures bring about some unique nature experiences. First of all, all the rain makes the famous McWay Falls even fuller than usual. And while that one change already makes January a particularly cool month to visit Big Sur, we can’t forget to mention that the beginning of the year also happens to be prime time for whale watching and condor spotting.
Weather in Big Sur in February
February has the exact same average temperatures and slightly more rain when compared to January: an average high of 16 degrees Celsius, an average low of 6 degrees Celsius, and an average of nine (rather than eight) rainy days per year.
While these temperatures can be chilly for some, they can also be a great temperature for others to enjoy outdoor adventures. Spend your days hiking stunning trails and finding beautiful waterfalls.
February also welcomes one bonus activity: the blooming of the calla lilies in Calla Lily Valley! These bright white blooms absolutely fill this already picture-perfect oceanview valley. And while these flowers can bloom in late January, you’ll really want to plan your Big Sur trip for February, March, or April for your best bet.
Weather in Big Sur in March
By the time March rolls around, things start to warm up a tiny bit, with an average high of 18 degrees Celsius and an average low of 7 degrees Celsius. It also stays pretty wet, with eight days of rain per month.
Since the weather conditions are still quite similar to February, you can enjoy all of the same activities that you can in the month prior.
Weather in Big Sur in April
Although the saying is “April showers bring May flowers,” things get quite a bit drier in April in Big Sur than in the previous three months. Instead of eight or nine days of rain, April only has five days of rain in this coastal Californian town. The temperatures, on the other hand, remain relatively similar with an average high of 20 degrees Celsius and an average low of 7 degrees Celsius.
For many people, cooler temperatures and minimal rain equal the perfect time for a hike. And it just so happens that Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is jam-packed with incredible trails. Check out the popular Buzzard’s Roost hike, enjoy a beautiful 18-metre waterfall on the Pfeiffer Falls Trail, or tackle the grueling 12.9-kilometre Mt. Manuel Trail.
Weather in Big Sur in May
With May comes the feeling of a real California summer. Temperatures reach the highest so far in the year with an average high of 22 degrees Celsius and an average low of 8 degrees Celsius. It’s also quite a bit drier than the earlier months with just two days of rain.
In our opinion, these weather conditions are absolutely ideal for every outdoor activity in the area. In other words, May could very well be the best time to visit Big Sur. Head to Pfeiffer Beach for purple sand and sea stars, go for a hike at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, pay a visit to Point Lobos Natural Preserve, or check out McWay Falls.
Weather in Big Sur in June
As the official start of summer, June is quite dry and hot. As a matter of fact, there are zero days of rain on average this month. Luckily, the temperatures aren’t horrifyingly hot with an average high of 24 degrees Celsius and an average low of 9 degrees Celsius.
With temperatures like those, a day in the water is definitely in order. Pfeiffer Beach, Carmel River State Beach (in the nearby town of Carmel-by-the-Sea), and the River Gorge Swimming Hole are all spectacular spots.
Weather in Big Sur in July
By July, summer is out in full force. It’s one of the hottest months of the year with an average high of 24 degrees Celsius and an average low of 11 degrees Celsius. It’s also particularly dry with pretty much no precipitation all month long.
Those temperatures are ideal for a day at the beach – more specifically, Pfeiffer Beach. There, you can hunt for the manganese-rich purple sand, search for sea animal friends in the tide pools, take some pictures of Keyhole Rock, or simply soak up the California sun.
If you do need a break from the sun, you can enjoy one of Big Sur’s (rare) indoor activities: the art galleries. For such a small town, Big Sur is home to a shocking number of art galleries. Hawthorne Gallery, Studio One, and COAST Big Sur (which is a cafe/boutique/gallery) are just a few crowd-favorites.
Weather in Big Sur in August
Temperatures in August can get just a smidge hotter than July with an average high of 25 degrees Celsius and an average low of 10 degrees Celsius. And it’s just as dry with a whopping zero days of rain.
Like the rest of summer, your best game plan is to go to the beach or intersperse your other outdoor activities with some indoor gems.
Weather in Big Sur in September
Despite officially being part of fall, September is just as hot as August. The temperatures are exactly the same, although September does get about one day of rain on average.
Regardless of the single precipitation-filled day, we still recommend spending most of your time at the beach in September in Big Sur.
Weather in Big Sur in October
October is when things finally start to cool down in Big Sur. The average high is 23 degrees Celsius and the average low is 9 degrees Celsius. October also typically has two days of rain.
With the cooling temperatures, October is the ideal time to do just about every activity you can dream of in Big Sur. Want to spend the day with tide-pool sea creatures? Do it! Hoping to snap some Instagram-worthy photos at Bixby Creek Bridge? Make it happen! Looking to explore the lesser-known Garrapata State Park? Check it off your bucket list!
But if there’s one October phenomenon you won’t want to miss out on, it’s the monarch butterflies. Each year, monarch butterflies migrate between Mexico and the U.S. (and sometimes even Canada). Many of these butterflies like to stop and make their fall and winter home (from October to January) at the Old Cooper Cabin at Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur! If you’re lucky enough to see these incredible creatures, it’s definitely a treat.
Weather in Big Sur in November
Temperatures drop pretty sharply – well, for California – between October and November. In November, the average high is 19 degrees Celsius and the average low is 8 degrees Celsius. This is also the time of year when the rain starts to pick up again with this fall month having a total of five days of rain.
These weather conditions are great for hiking all around Big Sur. Check out Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Lobos Natural Preserve, Andrew Molera State Park, and Garrapata State Park for some epic trails.
Weather in Big Sur in December
To wrap up the year, Big Sur experiences its coolest annual temperatures with an average high of 16 degrees Celsius and an average low of 6 degrees Celsius. December also has a solid eight days of rain.
With the December rain comes bigger waterfalls, so be sure to check out McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Falls, and Limekiln Falls during your winter Big Sur getaway.
Festivals in Big Sur
While the weather is one important factor in determining the best time to visit Big Sur, you should also consider the fabulous local festivals as well.
Winter Festivals in Big Sur
Calling all mushroom lovers! Winter is undoubtedly the best time to visit Big Sur for you, as January boasts the popular Big Sur Foragers Festival. You can go on foraging walks, listen to foraging talks, and eat meals made with delicious foraged finds. It’s definitely a feast for the senses!
And while the Big Sur Foragers Festival is the only major event in the winter, we can’t forget that this time of year also welcomes majestic whales, intimidating condors, and blooming calla lilies.
Spring Festivals in Big Sur
The stunning calla lilies stick around into spring as well, but that’s not the only highlight of the season. Each April, this California town hosts the Big Sur International Marathon. Since the course is on the oceanfront Pacific Coast Highway, you literally could not ask for a more stunning route. And with about 4,500 other runners to encourage you, you’re practically guaranteed to make it to the finish line!
Even if you’re not up for 42.2 kilometres of running, you can still participate. The Big Sur International Marathon also hosts a 5K, along with various short walks.
Summer Festivals in Big Sur
There aren’t a whole lot of noteworthy summer festivals in Big Sur. But just a few miles away in Carmel-by-the-Sea, there’s the Annual Ferrari Event. There, you can basically just stroll around, look at cool Ferraris, drink wine, and snack on the fanciest hors d’oeuvres.
Fall Festivals in Big Sur
Fall in Big Sur welcomes two noteworthy festivals. First, there’s the Big Sur Jade Festival, which takes place each October. Just like the name implies, there are beautiful jade finds, including jade carvings, jade jewelry, and even rough jade.
Then, in November, there’s the renowned Big Sur Food & Wine Festival. Talented chefs and sommeliers alike come together to showcase the best of coastal California culinary talent and ingredients.
So have you decided when is the best time to visit Big Sur, California for you? We hope so! Let us know how your trip goes in the comments!