Discover the best places to camp on the beach along the Southern California coast. Enjoy fresh ocean breezes, the sound of crashing waves and cozy nights by the campfire. With beachfront hotel prices sky high, camping on the beach is an affordable and fun vacation option. Our list covers campgrounds from San Diego to Santa Barbara and beyond. Tips on the best campsite, reservation information, and nearby things to do. Just in case you want to take a look around the area.
El Capitan Beach is perfect for families looking for a beach camping adventure or to escape from the city for the day. Sandy beach, rocky tidepools, and stands of sycamore and oaks along El Capitan Creek. The campground has 133 campsites. Several campsites offer beautiful Pacific Ocean views from cliff-top locations.
Stretching just a mile and a half along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, Leo Carrillo State Park is a perfect destination for day use or an overnight camping trip. Leo Carrillo campground is inland from the beach in a canyon lined with giant sycamores. There are 135 campsites including several group sites. Beach access is through a tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway.
Doheny State Beach is located in South Orange County next to Dana Point Harbor. Some of the campsites at Doheny are directly on the beach. There are 16 RV campsites only. The balance of the campsites you can use a tent, pop-up trailer or the back seat of your car. There is also a separate group tent site at the far end of the campground.
Moro Campground offers spectacular ocean views from all of its sixty campsites. Unlike some other beach campgrounds, there is no bad campsite. Every site has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. No open fires are allowed anywhere in the park. You may use compressed gas BBQs on the beach or in the campground.
There are 24 cottages for rent at Crystal Cove that range from beachfront to bluff top. All of the cottages have a microwave and refrigerator. ADA-accessible units have a small electric stove. If you don’t want to cook on your beach vacation you can dine at the beachfront Beachcomber Restaurant. Crystal Cove Beach Cottages are some of the most sought beach rentals in California.
San Elijo State Beach offers bluff-top camping with about half of the 170 campsites have uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. Campsite assignments are made upon your arrival unless you reserve a specific site. Peak season reservations are a must but after the busy summer, you should not have problems getting an ocean view campsite.
Gaviota State Park is the last stop on Highway 101 before it turns inland toward Buellton. There are e 41 developed campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs up to 27 feet. Gaviota State Park has hiking trails connect to the Los Padres National Forest. Gaviota SP has a fishing pier along with a sandy stretch of beach.
Jalama Beach County Park one of the best places to camp on the beach in California. There are 100 ocean view campsites plus 7 comfortable beach front cottages. Jalama Beach is located about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara just south of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
If you like to camp, Refugio State Beach is a lovely area lined with palm trees that provide a relaxing day at the beach or a fun camping trip. Campsites are located very close to the beach with some nestled in shady palm trees. Imagine falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. Both tent and RV campers can enjoy Refugio State Beach.
While not directly on the Beach, El Capitan Canyon Resort offers amazing coastal views and easy walking distance to the beach. Accommodations at El Capitan Canyon Resort include Safari Tents, Cabins, and Yurts. Imagine going camping with the only chore you have to do is packing your suitcase.
Bolsa Chica State Beach is located between Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. Beach camping at Bolsa Chica is limited to recreational vehicles only. Be sure to bring along your bicycles when camping at Bolsa Chica. The beach trail runs south to Newport Beach and north all the way to Long Beach.
San Clemente State Beach has 160 bluff-top campsites. Most sites do not have a beach view, however, campsites 57-72 have a partial ocean view. A paved trail that leads down to the wide sandy beach. The parks’ visitor center is located in the original 1934 ranger’s cottage. Open most weekend the visitor center has interesting historic photos along with information on native animals and plant life.
San Onofre State Beach consists of 3,000 acres of Southern California coastline between San Clemente and Camp Pendleton. The park includes three areas: San Onofre Bluffs, San Onofre Surf Beach, and San Mateo Campground. San Onofre Bluffs stretches out along Old Highway 101, offering both day-use parking and camping. San Mateo Campground is about 1.5 miles inland from the beach. A trail connects the campground to Trestles Beach, a world-class surfing site.
Thornhill Broome Beach campground is part of Point Mugu State Park. The main attraction here is being able to pull up your RV and park on the beach. Nothing between you and the surf except the rocky beach. Thornhill Broom campsites are considered primitive sites and are limited to 8 people. Reservations are Non-Site-Specific. All campsites are directly on the beach.
There are two campgrounds at Point Mug State Park. Thornhill Broom on the beach, and Sycamore Canyon, which features views of the ocean. Point Mugu State Park features more than 70 miles of hiking trails and five miles of pristine ocean shoreline surrounded by rocky bluffs and jagged pinnacles.
Oceano Dunes attracts off-roaders from all over California. Camping is directly on the beach at State Vehicular Recreation Area. 4-wheel drive is recommended to get to the camping area. Nearby Pismo State Beach campground is better suited for campers without off-road vehicles.
Silver Strand State Beach is located on the strip of sand that separates San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Silver Strand is San Diego’s’ most popular place for beach camping. Silver Strand features 136 campsites that are for self-contained vehicles only. Camping is on the north lot #4. Spaces 041 to 061 and 081 to 095 are right on the beach.
With awesome beachfront camping and beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Emma Wood State Beach offers campers and day users an incredible place to unwind and soak up some sun. A 90-site self-contained campground that is about as close to the ocean as you can get and moderate temperatures, Emma Wood’s is a popular year-round destination.
McGrath State Beach has 172 campsites by the beach and is next to the Santa Clara River and sand dunes. The campground is fairly remote by Southern California standards but still not too far away from the comforts of civilization. The beach here is wide and sandy perfect for a stroll or just laying out in the sun.
Carpinteria State Beach offers 216 campsites for RV’s and tent camping. Campsites are located on the beach within the town of Carpinteria. There are four campgrounds: Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and San Miguel. Both Santa Cruz and San Miguel have campsites directly on the sand, steps to the Ocean.
Newport Dunes Resort provides the perfect home away from home for guest to have fun in the southern California sun. While most guests arrive by RV, stopping for just a few days rest as they continue to their final destination or staying for an entire vacation, you don’t need an RV to stay here. There are plenty of overnight options including tent camping and cottage rentals.
Southern California Beach Camping Map