Real On the Beach Camping in California

Question: I know there are campgrounds NEAR the beaches of Southern and Central California; some are separated by a fence or other barrier. I've been looking for a place to tent-camp actually ON the beach, a tent in the sand only feet away from the ocean. Anyone know of anything like this? Help help please!

Answer: California beaches that allow camping right on the beach are few and far between. I know of only two. In Northern California (Humboldt County), Clam Beach County Park allows camping right on the beach. In Central California (Pismo Beach), Oceano Dunes SVRA allows both driving and camping right on the beach, but you'll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there, since it's an off-road vehicle recreation area.

However, all is not lost, because there are some places where some of the established campsites are virtually right on the beach. However, these places are also very popular, especially during the summer months. So reserving well ahead of time is a good idea. Unless you go during the off-season, expect that there will be crowds. You may also have to pay extra for beachside camping.

  • Jalama Beach County Park: Located near Lompoc, this beach has quite a few amenities. There are about a dozen campsites that front the beach.

  • Refugio State Beach: This beach near Santa Barbara has only 4 campsites fronting the beach, out of a total of 67. It's a scenic park, noted for its palms.

  • Carpinteria State Beach: This beach, located 12 miles south of Santa Barbara, has a large number of campsites fronting the beach.

  • Doheny State Beach: This park in Dana Point is one of the best for beach camping. There are about 30 campsites fronting the wide sandy beach.

Hope this helps.


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