YEW! If you are lucky enough to swoop a spot at one of the following beachfront campgrounds, you will be rewarded with one of the best experiences in Southern California. Keep in mind, reservations are highly recommended and can be booked up to six months in advance on reservecalifornia.com. Many fill up immediately for the summer.
From San Diego to Malibu, here are the best places to camp on the beach in Southern California:
A large paved parking lot for RVs that the state park calls a campground, it’s a great spot for posting up on Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado. It’s also a cheap way to get an oceanfront room for the night. The park has 2 ½ miles of ocean beach and ½ mile on the bay. For the fams, it has easy access to Crown Cove with calm water and rentals for different water activities.
Address: 5000 CA-75, Coronado, CA 92118
Campland on the Bay is San Diego’s most beloved RV park. A private campground on the shores of San Diego’s Mission Bay, you can reserve spots on the Campland website. Perfect for families, there is an arcade, swimming pools, cafe, store, wifi, laundry, skatepark, volleyball courts, horseshoes, and a private beach on the bay, yo.
Address: 2211 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
Your next best thing to a beach house, San Elijo is a rad campground on the bluff at Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas. It has 170 camp spots located right across the street from Seaside Market (Cardiff Crack!) Long wooden staircases lead down to the beach for fishing, sandcastle-making, swimming, and world-class surfing. Simply the best.
Address: 2050 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
Located right off the highway, South Carlsbad State Beach Campground caters to campers who love to surf, swim, paddle board and take part in all that the North County has to offer. With a long road down the middle for biking, the beach is just a short walk down a wooden stairway. The campsites have picnic tables and fire pits, and the bathrooms are equipped with showers.
Address: 7201 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
You can hear the waves crashing from your tent as you sleep right next to the ocean at this state beach campground north of Camp Pendleton. Unfortunately, you can also hear the 5 freeway and passing trains. Rustic sites with fire pits and picnic tables, there are plenty of family-friendly activities and easy beach access down a short and steep path. It’s also close to Trestles, a world-class surfing site.
Address: 5200 S Pacific Coast Hwy, San Clemente, CA 92672
Located right in the town of San Clemente, the mile long beach stretches between the ocean surf and the foot of a steep bluff. San Clemente State Beach has two campgrounds, one for RVs and one for tents. There’s lots to do here including swimming, surfing, snorkeling, beach combing, hiking, surf fishing, biking, whale watching or even cruising into town to shop and hit up a few restaurants.
Address: 225 Avenida Califia, San Clemente, CA 92672
With over 100 camp spots on the beach right in Dana Point, this campsite is quite popular. Doheny has a world-class surfing beach at its northern end and a five-acre lawn with picnic facilities and volleyball courts. The southern end of the state beach has campgrounds, with some of the campsites only steps away from the beach. The state beach has tide pools and a visitor center with several aquariums. Surf fishing is also popular among visitors.
Address: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629
Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore. It features 3.2 miles of beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness and an offshore underwater area. Moro Campground is just across Pacific Coast Highway. Half of the 60 camping spaces are for RVs and the rest are for tents, vans, and smaller trailers. This park has a long beach to walk (and surf,) paved paths on the bluff, and access to a historical district with restaurants and bars.
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Located in Huntington Beach, this unique beachside campground sits off Bolsa Chica State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. This state beach has a paved lot with electrical and water hookups that can accommodate 50 RVs (tent camping is not allowed). Visitors can walk, surf, bike, or hike nature trails at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
Sadly, Leo Carrillo State Park suffered significant damage during the fires, but its a large campground with 140 spots in a canyon right behind South Beach in Malibu. The 1.5 miles of beaches have epic caves, arches, and tidepools. Hiking trails take off into the hills right from the campground and visitor center.
Address: 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Just west of county line (from Malibu,) the Sycamore Canyon Campground is right across the highway from the picturesque Sycamore Cove Beach. The site offers 58 tent sites and close access to hiking trails in the Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area.
Address: 9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
The campsites are nothing more than parking spots along the highway, but, you can pitch a tent or park your RV next to the ocean. The facilities are minimal and the campground parallels a busy highway, but it’s hard to get closer to a rad surf spot than this.
Address: 9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265