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The Best Beach Camping in California

The Best Beach Camping in California

Are you dreaming of beach camping in California? RVing up and down the Pacific Coast Highway can certainly provide some one-of-a-kind views.

Let’s take a look at the best oceanside camping spots in California.

The 8 Best Places to Beach Camp in California

These campsites range from Northern California to south of Los Angeles. Pet owners should keep in mind that while most campgrounds allow dogs, the beaches are more restrictive.

#1. Doran Beach Regional Park, Bodega Bay

Address: 201 Doran Beach Rd., Bodega Bay, CA 94923

About Doran Regional Park: Doran Regional Park has four year-round campgrounds nestled between Bodega Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. The harbor borders campsites in the Shell, Gull, and Cove campgrounds with beach access across the road. The Jetty campground sits between the harbor on one side and the beach on the other.

Amenities: There are no hookups, but you can run your generator from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You’ll also find potable water. Bathrooms have electrical outlets, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers. There’s also a dump station in the park. 

beach camping in California. learn to surf
Learn to surf while beach camping in California

#2. El Capitan State Beach, Goleta

Address: 1 El Capitan State Beach Rd., Goleta, CA 93117

About El Capitan State Beach: Experience sandy beaches and rocky tidepools at El Capitan State Beach. It’s a good stop for swimming, fishing, and surfing. You can get to this California beach from the campground via a stairway down the bluff.

Amenities: The campground can accommodate RVs up to 42 feet long. There are no hookups at campsites. However, you will find drinking water, flush toilets, coin-operated showers, and laundry facilities.

Know Before You Go: COVID has caused some closures at this beach, so check the website before making plans. Currently, the beach is partially open but plans to close to camping beginning in August 2022.

#3. Jalama Beach County Park, Lompoc

Address: 9999 Jalama Rd., Lompoc, CA 93436

About Jalama Beach County Park: Jalama Beach County Park offers upfront access to a scenic coastline in Santa Barbara County. The campground has 107 sites, all of which overlook the beautiful ocean. Unfortunately, high winds are common in the area, which can cause rough surf. 

Amenities: Thirty-one sites offer electrical hookups, while the rest have no hookups. Each campsite has a picnic table and BBQ pit. The campground offers bathrooms, showers, and a dump station.

beach camping in California. bbq
Enjoy BBQing on the beach while beach camping in California

#4. New Brighton State Beach, Capitola

Address: 1500 Park Ave., Capitola, CA 95010

About New Brighton State Beach: New Brighton State Beach campground sits on a forested bluff overlooking the beach. It provides hiking trails and amazing views of Monterey Bay. Fishing, swimming, surfing, beachcombing, and wildlife watching are popular activities. The state beach also has a junior ranger program.

Amenities: The campground is open year-round. Eleven out of the 111 sites have electrical hookups. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and food storage locker. There are bathrooms and a dump station in the campground.

#5. Patrick’s Point State Park, Trinidad

Address: 4150 Patrick’s Point Dr., Trinidad, CA 95570

About Patrick’s Point State Park: Patrick’s Point State Park occupies one square mile among coastal Redwood trees. Visitors like to search for agates, explore tidepools, and watch for sea lions and migrating whales. There’s also a native plant garden and a reconstructed Yurok plank-house village. The park doesn’t recommend swimming off Patrick’s Point due to the cold and dangerous water. The undertow and potential large waves can be powerful.

Amenities: You won’t find any sites with hookups here. Each site does have a picnic table, fire ring, and food locker, though. The campground offers drinking water, flushable toilets, and coin-operated showers. There’s no dump station in the park, so RVers will need to plan accordingly.

Pro Tip: Don’t get caught off guard! Come prepared knowing The Don’ts of Beach Camping.

beach camping in California. freedom camping, boondocking no hookups
Make sure to research if your site offers hookups so that you are prepared while beach camping in California

#6. Point Mugu State Park, Malibu

Address: Pacific Coast Hwy., NAS Point Mugu, CA 93042

About Point Mugu State Park: Located just north of downtown Malibu, Point Mugu State Park provides views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This experience of beach camping in California has a little bit of everything. The shoreline has rocky bluffs and sandy beaches. And there are more than 70 miles of hiking trails.

Amenities: The state park has two campgrounds. Sycamore Canyon Campground has 58 sites for RVs and tents. The maximum vehicle length is 31 feet. Bathrooms and showers are located in the campground as well as a dump station. 

Thornhill Broome Campground has 69 primitive campsites that line up along the edge of the beach. A water station, picnic tables, fire rings, and portable toilets are available.

#7. San Clemente State Beach, San Clemente

Address: 225 Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, CA 92672

About San Clemente State Beach: San Clemente State Beach is the southernmost beach campground on our list, located between Los Angeles and San Diego. San Clemente is known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea” due to its Spanish Colonial style architecture and sweeping ocean and mountain views. Surfing, swimming, biking, and ocean life viewing are the favorite activities here.

Amenities: There are two camping areas, one for RVs and one for tents. RV campsites have water, electric, and sewer hookups. The campground also has a bathhouse, showers, and a dump station.

beach camping in California. junior ranger program
Become a junior ranger while beach camping at Sunset State Beach, California

#8. Sunset State Beach, Watsonville

Address: Sunset Beach Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076

About Sunset State Beach: Located on Monterey Bay, Sunset State Beach provides countless things to see and do in every direction. The park itself has a junior ranger program and beach activities. Many come to fish for surf perch, sardines, and striped bass.

Dunes protect the campground, but it sometimes closes in the fall and winter seasons due to weather in the bay area. If this happens during your stay, you have the option of a full refund. Or you can relocate to another park in the Santa Cruz district, depending on availability. 

Amenities: RV and tent campsites lack hookups. The campground has drinking water, bathrooms, and showers.

Keep in Mind: Don’t let the California sun get to your head and get caught skinny dipping while beach camping! If you must however, make sure to take these precautions: Is Skinny Dipping Okay (and Legal) When You’re Camping?

Tips for RV Beach Camping in California

Be sure to keep these four tips in mind when beach camping in California.

Book Early

Beach camping in California is extremely popular, so it’s crucial to make reservations in advance. Check how far out the booking window is for the campground you want. Most take reservations six months out. We highly recommend trying to solidify your booking on the earliest date possible.

Use Separate Beach Towels 

Designate beach towels for outdoor use and shower towels for indoor use. You can keep your beach towels outside to help prevent sand from getting in your RV. Let’s face it, once sand is in your RV, it gets into everything.

beach camping in California. sand free
Leave the sand on the beach by using separate indoor and outdoor towels when beach camping in California

Get an Outdoor Rug

An outdoor rug can be helpful when beach camping in California. You can leave your sandy shoes on the rug before entering your RV or clean them off. The rug is also beneficial for keeping outdoor furniture off the sand.

Use Your Outdoor Shower

Utilize your RV’s outdoor shower when you come in from the beach. It keeps sand from getting into your RV and prevents any potential drain clogging. Plus, it reduces the amount of water going into your gray tank. 

beach camping in California. outdoor shower. sand free
Take advantage of the California sun by showering with your outdoor shower and keeping your RV sand free

Prepare for a California Beach Camping Adventure

Beach camping in California is fun and memorable. We highly recommend trying it out if you’re RVing in the state. Check out more than one beach camping spot to see the differences in the coastline. You might even see some sea life out the window of your RV. Have you ever beach camped before?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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