SoCal Beach Campgrounds


To most Americans, pitching a tent on the sand or packing a surfboard with your camping gear is a foreign concept. To Southern Californians, it’s just another way to meet their annual beach-time quota.

If you’ve never beach-camped, we suggest you try it out because Socal is filled with awesome beach-side campgrounds. Nothing is better than living at the beach for a few days!

Here’s a list of SoCal Beach Campgrounds south of Dana Point:

(Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog – campgrounds between Malibu and Newport!)

Doheny State Beach Campground

Dana Point, CA

Doheny is an awesome socal beach campground.
Doheny State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Orange County. A particular favorite with longboarders due to its cruise-y waves, Doheny also boasts lots of smooth sand and volleyball courts. It additionally has large grassy lawns by the beach for grilling and hosting parties. The campground is right next to the sand, providing easy beach access for everyone, and is just south of Dana Point’s charming downtown and wharf. Particularly family-friendly, kids and adults alike love this beach!

San Mateo Campground

San Clemente, CA

SoCal Beach Campground in san clemente
The San Mateo Campground combines the best of both worlds – the unique beauty of the California hills and the stunning San Clemente waves. The campground is located about a mile inland from the world-famous Trestles Beach. Campers get a more traditional camping experience rather than camping right on the sand, but can easily walk back and forth to the beach via a well-traveled path. Trestles is known to be a surfer’s paradise – consistently cranking out waves for all different board-types at the various breaks. The waves here are so perfect in fact, that WSL annually holds the Finals for the World Title here at Lower Trestles. Expect the campground to be especially packed in the days surrounding the event!

If you want to hone your surf skills to keep up with the pros, snag a local lesson with us! We teach just a couple blocks north at T. Street in San Clemente!

San Onofre Bluffs

San Onofre, CA

Beach camping is great in San Onofre
A few exits south of the San Mateo Campground sits the San Onofre Bluffs Campground. An amazing place to soak up the coastal beauty and enjoy nature’s peace, the campground is a bit of a hidden gem. Campsites are on the bluffs overlooking the ocean and have many trails leading down to the water. The San Onofre Bluffs are surrounded by the military base Camp Pendleton, which has remained undeveloped this area. Besides being close to the 5 freeway, you feel relatively isolated. The campground is also quite close to the iconic longboard break called Old Man’s – it’s definitely worth checking out!

South Carlsbad State Beach

Carlsbad, CA

South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is a favorite of the locals, whether they are camping or just stopping by for the fun. The campsites are located on the bluff and provide unparalleled views of the water. Multiple wooden staircases provide easy access to the beach and lovely viewpoints to watch the action. This beach is has great, consistent waves and is one of our favorite spots to teach lessons in the San Diego area. (Book a lesson today!) The South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is also known for it’s locally famed Camp Store. The Camp Store is part restaurant, part general store and it hosts live music events open to the public each week. Especially in the summer, it’s the place to be!

San Elijo

Cardiff, CA

Beach Campground in San ElijoLocated just between the renowned Swami’s Beach and the popular Cardiff Reef area, the San Elijo Campgrounds are not lacking for waves. The campsites are situated on a bluff overlooking multiple reef breaks, such as Pipes and Traps, which are known for their consistency. These breaks are like a wave factory – pumping out either super mellow or totally firin’ waves depending on the season. (For this reason, we love to teach lessons here!)

When beachgoers want a change of scenery, they can walk across the 101 and explore Cardiff or head a couple blocks north to Encinitas’ quaint downtown.

Silver Strand

Coronado, CA

Silver Strand Beach is a wonderful place to camp in socal.

Silver Strand State Beach is positioned along the tiny strip of land connecting Coronado to Imperial Beach. The unique perk that comes with this location is that campers get the beach on one side and the bay on the other. This makes for exponential options for memory-making – kayaking, boating, surfing, sun-tanning, volleyball and more! There is also an awesome 10-mile bike path that runs through the entire Strand making an adventure into Coronado quite easy! It is worth noting however, that Silver Strand Campground only allows RV camping and no tents.

Whether you go for a weekend or a longer vacation, a stay at a SoCal Beach Campground is always worth it.

We hope you’re already your planning your next trip! 😀

*Note: these campsites often fill up many months in advance so we suggest planning quite far ahead*