15 Best Beach Camping in Southern California: 101 Guide

A Guide Through Beach Camping Southern California

Southern California beaches have long drawn visitors for their golden sand, sun, and carefree mood, and nothing is better than the idea that you don’t have to go. Fortunately, California’s southern coast has many camping possibilities for tents and RVs. You can do many activities on the beach, such as surfing, tanning, frisbee throwing, and volleyball. You can even build a campfire over the Pacific and spend the night listening to the waves.

San Clemente, San Elijo State Beach, Encinitas, Malibu, and the Gaviota Coast are two coastal corridors between Los Angeles and San Diego. Each has a distinct personality, yet both have comforts you can only find in Southern California’s dappled light.

Are you looking for the top campgrounds near California’s beaches? The list of the full 15 beach camping in Southern California below will take care of you.

A Guide Through Beach Camping in South California
By Matthew Hamilton/ Unsplash, Copyright 2016

A Guide To The 15 Best Beach Camping in Southern California

1. Dockweiler State Beach Camping

There is only one beach campground in Los Angeles, but it’s in a beautiful location. Between Marina del Rey and Manhattan Beach, you’ll find Dockweiler State Beach, right below LAX’s takeoff and approach path.

The cycling path from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica passes straight by the west-facing beach, which offers a panoramic view of Santa Monica Bay.

Location: 12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293-8518, USA

2. San Elijo State Beach Camping in Southern California

San Elijo State Beach camping
By Unseen Beaches/ Unsplash, Copyright 2023

There are bluffs and stairs leading down to the water for two miles. San Elijo State Beach Swimming, surfing, camping, and picnicking are just a few of the activities you can enjoy at San Elijo State Beach in Northern San Diego County. A trip to the beautiful San Elijo State Beach from Cardiff is well worth it.

Location: Cardiff, at the 2050 South Coast Highway.

3. Malibu-Gaviota Coast Beach Camping in Southern California

Malibu-Gaviota Coast Beach Camping Southern California
By zak_davis7/ Pixabay

The beaches to the west of Los Angeles have a distinct mood from those to the south, which are less tamed and more sheltered by the wilderness of the Santa Monica Mountains. In contrast to the south, where everything revolves around the water, campers here can head inland to enjoy the region’s excellent mountain trekking and climbing.

Even still, nothing beats spending the night next to the water, and these campgrounds have all the conveniences necessary to make it feel like a vacation.

Malibu Creek State Park Campground is conveniently located right adjacent to the park, providing easy access to the park’s wilderness trails and the wildlife forced to take refuge when the visitors approach.

Campers on the west side of Malibu can enjoy the waves, tidal pools, and sea caves of Leo Carrillo State Beach, accessible from the campground at Leo Carrillo State Park.

Santa Barbara and the Gaviota Coast are an hour’s drive north of Malibu.

El Capitan State Beach and Campground is a great place to go hiking or surfing in the Santa Ynez Mountains during the winter.

Location: California 93117, United States

4. Doheny State Beach Camping in Southern California

Some campsites at Doheny State Beach’s large campground on the south side are located just a few feet from the sand. Up to 35-foot-long RVs and trailers will fit.

The only true negative to Doheny is the potential for temporary road closures and camping restrictions during significant events like the Doheny Blues Festival.

Location: Doheny State Beach, Dana Point, CA 92624, USA

5. Silver Strand State Beach Camping in Southern California

Silver Strand State Beach Camping Southern California
By Mikail McVerry/ Unsplash, Copyright 2019

On the Coronado Peninsula, there is a beach called Silver Strand State Beach. Self-contained RVs or trailers only at Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego County, south of Coronado; it can accommodate trailers and recreational vehicles up to 40 feet in length.

There’s a special charge for campers whose vehicles are so big that they take up two campsites. All recreational vehicles must be completely self-sufficient.

All camps are conveniently close to the beach, although sites 101 through 0 are the most intimate.

Location: 5000 CA-75, Coronado, CA 2118, USA

6. Carpinteria State Beach Camping in Southern California

Carpinteria State Beach Camping Southern California
By Keara Turner/ Unsplash, Copyright 2021

The park’s land was donated in the 1930s, and CCC members spent time improving it. You can explore the many tide pools that dot the beach at Carpinteria’s mile-long stretch at low tide.

Carpinteria is a charming seaside village in Southern California with easy access to the ocean. Carpinteria has public showers available in its bathhouses.

All campsites have a maximum length restriction of 35 feet for RVs.

Location: 205 Palm Ave in Carpinteria.

7. Oceano Dunes SVRA Beach Camping in Southern California

Oceano Dunes SVRA Beach Camping Southern California
By Paul Hanaoka/ Unsplash, Copyright 2017

This park’s 1,500 acres of coastline and dunes are reserved exclusively for off-roading with 4×4 vehicles.

Oceano Dunes has no approved camping areas, so a 4WD vehicle is required.

Location: 1001 Cabrillo Highway in Oceano.

8. Pismo State Beach Camping in Southern California

Pismo State Beach Camping Southern California
By Vince Rankin/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

Western Monarch butterflies from as far north as Canada spend the winter at Pismo State Beach from November to February. Pismo and Pacific razor clams are famous for clamming.

Obtaining a California fishing license is necessary for clamming.

If you want to discover more about the park’s history, hiking trails, and culture, stop by the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center.

A maximum RV length of 31 feet is enforced.

Location: 555 Pier Avenue in Oceano.

9. Leo Carrillo State Park Malibu Beach Camping in Southern California

Leo Carrillo State Park- Malibu Beach Camping Southern California
By Lisha Riabinina/ Unsplash, Copyright 2021

In search of a weekend camping vacation close to Los Angeles? Drive out to Malibu and check out Leo Carrillo State Park best for tent camping.

This famous beach stretches for a mile and a half along the Pacific Coast Highway, and its appeal stems from the fact that it is dotted with sea caves, green rocks, lovely coves, and a tide pool.

Leo Carillo with easy access to many hiking trails is a fun campground. The convenience of having multiple hiking trails departing directly from Leo Carillo State Park is a significant draw for campers in this area.

Location: 3500 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

10. Bolsa Chica State Beach Camping in Southern California

Bolsa Chica State Beach camping Southern California
By Omar Lopez/ Unsplash, Copyright 2018

Bolsa Chica State Beach is renowned for its picturesque shoreline and excellent surf fishing. However, only RVs are permitted.

It’s also a great place to see local animals, making it a top Orange County beach.

Location: Bolsa Chica State Beach, California, USA.

11. San Clemente-Oceanside-Encinitas Beach Camping in Southern California

San Clemente-Oceanside-Encinitas Beach Camping Southern California
By Bobby Stevenson/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

San Clemente is the beach that pops into people’s heads when they think of a beach. It has vast, white sands that are lapped by tongues of bright blue waves.

San Clemente State Beach Campground is located north of Trestles Beach, making it a prime spot for surfers traveling to that area. The campground is located on the top of the sandstone cliffs at the foot of the Santa Anas, with stunning views of the Pacific and convenient access to adjacent San Clemente.

San Mateo Campground is located a few miles from San Onofre State Beach, another break known for its longboard surfing, and features hot showers that make the journey back to camp worthwhile. The price is relatively steep, much like San Clemente, and there is a separate day-use fee. Within the park, right next to the Old Pacific Coast Highway, is a long series of campsites known as San Onofre Bluffs Campground.

The San Elijo State Beach Campground is located further south, near Swamis Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s unique shops, restaurants, and food carts.

Location: Encinitas, CA 92024, USA

12. Crystal Cove State Park Beach Camping in Southern California

Crystal Cove State Park Beach Camping Southern California
By Matt Artz/ Unsplash, Copyright 2017

Backpackers and hikers will want to experience the experience of beach camping at Crystal Cove just north of Laguna Beach.

Stunning scenery, quiet roads, and quaint cottages make for the ideal weekend retreat.

Crystal Cove State Park, which spans over 2,400 acres, is distinguished from other beach resorts by its emphasis on wellness and its collection of historic seaside cottages.

Location: 8471 N. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

13. Jalama County Park

Jalama County Park
By Tim Mossholder/ Unsplash, Copyright 2016

Jalama is the ideal place in Southern California to go beach camping if you’re looking for a secluded beach with breathtaking Pacific sunsets.

Since it is encircled on all sides by private land and Vanderberg Air Force Base, it is very isolated.

The Surfliner train, operated by Amtrak, travels up and down the coast on the tracks just outside the park, and it is well worth seeing.

You can rent a cabin with either one or two bedrooms and choose from various camping options including tent camping. A bathhouse at Jalama Beach has hot showers for a fee. Jalama Beach Grill and a store selling camping supplies are both available.

Location: 999 Jalama Road, about 45 minutes from Lompoc.

14. Gaviota State Park

Gaviota State Park is the final destination along Highway 101 and is located near a small village in Santa Barbara.

Gaviota Sp has much to offer hikers and beachgoers alike, particularly the former.

The trestle bridge erected by the railroad across the beach is impressive.

If you get weary from camping, you can go fishing off the fishing pier or hike into the neighboring Los Padres National Forest, which is connected by hiking routes.

A suitable bathroom and shower facilities have been built for campers. If you’d like to go on a picnic but want to leave everyone alone, plenty of tables are available.

Location: 17620 Gaviota Beach Rd.

15. El Capitan State 

 Beach Camping in Southern California
By Tim Mossholder/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

El Capitan Beach is an excellent destination for day trips from the city or overnight beach camping trips with the kids.

El Capitan Creek is lined with sycamores and oaks and features a sandy beach and rocky tidepools. There are 133 campsites in this park.

Several campsites are situated on cliffs with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Location: California 93117, United States

Frequently Answered Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I Use a Gas Stove, Charcoal Grill, or Fireplace in A Public Park or Beach?

  • Each park or beach has its own set of regulations.
  • Unfortunately, gas grills and stoves aren’t allowed in some neighborhoods due to health and safety regulations.
  • Before planning a trip to a state park or beach, getting in touch with the park or beach is a good idea.
  • The “Find a California State Park” page includes links to the contact pages for each park in the system.

2. Are Dogs Allowed on Hikes and To the Beach?

  • With a few exceptions, dogs are not allowed on trails or beaches.
  • A 6-foot leash is a limit allowed for canine companions.
  • Visit the “State Parks with Your Dog” page for specifics by region and park.

3. How To Get a Campsite Reservation at One of The 10 Popular California Beaches?

  • To book a spot, go to
  • Daily availability of camping and hotel options begins six months in advance.
  • Please remember that many people in and outside California have a soft spot for California beaches and parks.
  • Popular destinations, such as coastal beaches, campgrounds, or redwood cabins, can sell out months in advance.
  • If your preferred park is booked, plan, research, and have some backups in mind.
  • One option is visiting a popular but fully booked park during the day while staying nearby.

4. What Am I Supposed to Do if I Need to Call Off My Camping Trip?

5. Please Share Any Camping Advice that Would Make Camping More Enjoyable All Year

  • To avoid disappointment, book your reservations in advance.
  • Decide on where you want to camp, but be open to changing your mind.
  • Think about going somewhere out of the way, going on a less popular day, or staying at a less popular campground.
  • The nearer you get to a holiday weekend the further north and inland you may have to go for a reservation.
  • Remember cancellations.
  • Guests should check the website or call the toll-free number to find out if there have been any cancellations (7275).
  • Currently, no waiting lists are available, but cancellations occasionally happen.
  • You should spend the day at the park.
  • Come by in April, May, September, or October.
  • The weather at California beaches is often pleasant from April and October, making this a great time to visit.
  • Leave the campsite as you find it.
  • Your trailing camper will be grateful.
  • Always consider minimizing your impact by bringing only what you need.

6. Is There Any Place Nearby to Buy Firewood?

  • Each park has a place to buy firewood, and the money goes toward maintaining the garden.
  • To avoid the spread of tree disease and pests, parks in quarantined areas are often compelled to prohibit the import of firewood.
  • For further details- click here.

7. Is It Possible to Have a Wedding or Other Event on A California Beach?

  • In that case, yes, but even a little gathering needs a permit.
  • An event/permit coordinator is in charge of each park or area.
  • Send an email to if you need our email address.
  • Visit this page for more details on holding your wedding at a state park- click here.


Camping on the beach is the most significant activity for those who enjoy being outside and who also enjoy lots of sun and water. Beach camping is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Camping stays are typically limited to 14 days at most campgrounds. Camping reservations often cover the cost of parking at least one vehicle at the campground, and parking fees could be required for different cars.

This guide to beach camping in Southern California is the perfect location to start planning a relaxing weekend away with family or friends or a romantic trip for two to watch the sunset while strolling down the sand. Here is a list of the 15 best camping spots in every central region of Southern California, so all you have to do is pick one that works for you and relax for a while.

Also check out: Sark Island: Top 8 Things to do in Sark Island




About Author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like


Fire Pits in Australia: Top 10 Amazing Options

Outdoor activities are common with fire pits in Australia. Summer barbecues and campfires provide occasions for people to get together.

Tips For Camping In Wales Plus 5 Amazing Camping Sites

Without a doubt, camping in South Wales will be a memorable adventure. Camping in Wales is a fantastic experience; the