Beach Camping in California – California Beaches

Beach Camping in California - California Beaches
This Crystal Cove beach is near Moro Campground in Laguna

We have every California beach campground covered on our site. Many are right on the beach so seeing the sunset before heading back to your camp spot is easy. While few allow pitching a tent right on the sand, these beachside campgrounds still offer an outdoors experience with the benefits of beach walks and the sound of waves throughout the evening.

Which beach camping spot is the best?

There are so many and they are diverse. Of course it depends on your desired setting and activities so a “best list” is difficult. Some who stand out include:

You are reading: Beach Camping in California – California Beaches

Southern California: Crystal Cove, Leo Carrillo, Sycamore Canyon

Central California: El Capitan, Jalama, Spooner’s Cove, Andrew Molera

Northern California: Kirby Cove, Wrights, Mattole (remote), Patricks Point

All the beach campgrounds are listed below!

Which ones are the worst?

If you are a tent camper then some of the “RV-only” campgrounds in Southern California like Silver Strand State Beach won’t work at all. Even if RV camping is your thing, the large paved lots who offer little seclusion are a downer too. Having amenities like hiking paths in addition to the beaches themselves helps. You’ll need to look at the list below for options near your home or vacation spot to determine which camping spot is best for your needs.


No matter where you plan to go, contact the state park, private owner, or manager to see if they offer reservations. Most do and it’s important to reserve spots ahead of time. On every one of our beach pages, we link to the owner for more info and for reservations. Most of the state beach campgrounds can be reserved through ReserveCalifornia.

Beach Camping in California - California Beaches
Jalama Beach Camping at Sunset

Other options for beach camping in California

Catalina Island – Going to Catalina and want to camp instead of hotelling it? See our list of Catalina Island beach camping spots. Most are boat-in spots, but there is one near Avalon and one near Two Harbors that have easy access and are great for families.

Tomales Bay – In addition to the boat-in spots on Catalina, there are many beach camp spots for kayakers on Tomales Bay in Marin County.

Point Reyes – There are campgrounds near the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore, but they are all hike-in spots. With a good weather forecast these wilderness camps would be value the effort as they have access to stunning remote beaches.

San Francisco Bay – Angel Island on San Francisco Bay has several campgrounds and most are not a long walk to either of two modest beaches.

Channel Islands – For those who are even more adventurous, there are campgrounds on the Channel Islands and some are close to the beach.

The Beach Camping List

Below you’ll find all of the beaches with camping options listed from south to north.

Beaches on this list

  • Silver Strand State Beach

    Silver Strand State Beach gives day-use visitors and campers access to great beaches on both sides of the Coronado Island Peninsula. The ocean beach at Silver Strand State Beach offers […]

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  • San Elijo State Beach

    San Elijo State Beach is a long beach who takes up most of the oceanfont land in the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, CA. This state park has a large […]

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  • South Carlsbad State Beach

    South Carlsbad State Beach is a three-mile long beach on the waterfront of Carlsbad, California. Most of this state beach is in front of the linear South Carlsbad Campground who […]

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  • San Onofre State Beach – Bluffs Beaches

    San Onofre State Beach is located between Oceanside and San Clemente, CA. The main area of this state park, which is called “Bluffs Beach,” has a long continuous parking lot […]

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  • San Clemente State Beach

    San Clemente State Beach has a substantial campground and day-use parking area on a prime piece of San Clemente California real estate. The state park was built from 1934 to […]

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  • Doheny State Beach – South Beach

    The South Beach of Doheny State Beach is on the south side of San Juan Creek in Dana Point, CA. This southern area of the state park has a huge […]

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  • Crystal Cove State Park – Moro Beach

    Moro Beach is the southern beach in Crystal Cove State Park located between Laguna Beach and the Corona Del Mar area of Newport Beach, CA. For many years this was […]

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  • Bolsa Chica State Beach

    Bolsa Chica State Beach is a three mile long wide sandy beach in Huntington Beach, CA. Due to its location and size this is a popular beach for sunbathing. With […]

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  • Dockweiler State Beach RV Park

    Dockweiler State Beach is a popular long wide sandy beach near the LAX Airport in the Playa Del Rey area of Los Angeles. Inside the main state park entrance and […]

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  • Leo Carrillo State Park – South Beach

    South Beach at Leo Carrillo State Park is a sandy spot near the mouth of a creek that flows out (rarely) from Arroyo Sequit. This dry wash drains part of […]

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  • Sycamore Cove Beach

    Sycamore Cove Beach is a day-use area in Point Mugu State Park in southern Ventura County. The beach in Sycamore Cove is excellent, but the biggest draw to this spot […]

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  • Thornhill Broome Beach

    Thornhill Broome Beach in Point Mugu State Beach is in front of a long campground on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway in southern Ventura County. There is a […]

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  • Emma Wood State Beach

    Emma Wood State Beach is a linear state park that parallels Highway 101 west of the city of Ventura. The main day use area is at the south end of […]

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  • Emma Wood State Beach – North Beach

    North Beach at Emma Wood State Beach is a long linear RV campground right on the ocean. Unfortunately there is no tent camping at this location under the name of they only allow […]

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  • Faria Beach

    Faria Beach is located at the north end of the private gated Faria Beach Colony in Ventura County. The county provides a small campground called Faria Beach Park at this […]

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  • Rincon Parkway Beach

    Rincon Parkway is a linear campground that spans most of the Ventura shoreline between Faria Beach County Park and Hobson Beach County Park. The parkway is only open to RV […]

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  • Hobson Beach

    Hobson Beach is located south of the private gated Seacliff Beach Colony in Ventura County. At high tide there will be little if no dry sand at Hobson Beach. The […]

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  • Carpinteria State Beach

    Carpinteria State Beach is an excellent white sand beach right in the urban of Carpinteria. The state beach starts at Linden Avenue and continues south to Tar Pits Beach at […]

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  • El Capitan State Beach

    El Capitan State Beach is state park about twenty miles west of downtown Santa Barbara. It has a huge campground and a day-use parking area near the beach. At low […]

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  • Refugio State Beach

    Refugio State Beach is a state park located about twenty miles from Santa Barbara. It has a large campground near the ocean who allows for longer stays, but has a […]

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  • Gaviota State Park Beach

    Gaviota State Park Beach is a south-facing beach below a tall train trestle about 30 miles west of Santa Barbara and 25 miles southeast of Lompoc. Behind the trestle there […]

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  • Jalama Beach County Park

    Jalama Beach spans the mouth of Jalama Creek at the site of a historic Chumash Indian settlement named “Halama.” Now this site is a popular Santa Barbara County park with a […]

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  • Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

    Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the only California State Park that allows non-street-legal vehicles to drive on the beach (see all the beaches that can you can drive […]

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  • Pismo State Beach – Oceano Beach

    Oceano Beach is in front of the Oceano Campground at Pismo State Beach. This is a wide flat sandy beach backed by a deep dunes structure with grass, shrubs, trees […]

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  • Pismo State Beach – North Beach

    North Beach is in front of the North Beach Campground at Pismo State Beach. Pismo Creek meets the ocean at this location and sometimes pools up next to the campground. […]

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  • Spooner’s Cove – Montana de Oro State Park

    Spooner’s Cove Beach sits in a cove wherein Islay Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean in Montana de Oro State Park. This beautiful cove has a pebbly beach, tide pools, […]

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  • Morro Bay State Park

    Morro Bay State Park is well-known for its hiking (Morro Bay State Park uppero map) and mountain biking trails (not to mention the Morro Bay State Park Golf Course), but […]

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  • Morro Strand State Beach

    Morro Strand State Beach is divided into two parts who are in the cities of Morro Bay and Cayucos. The main southern portion of this state park is in Morro […]

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  • San Simeon Creek Beach

    San Simeon Creek Beach is at the mouth of San Simeon Creek north of Cambria, CA. This is a wide sandy beach with dunes, wetlands, and driftwood. Birds can be […]

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  • Sand Dollar Beach

    Sand Dollar Day-Use Picnic Area is along the southern Big Sur coast about half-way between Cambria and Big Sur Station. The picnic area and Sand Dollar Beach are popular in […]

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  • Kirk Creek Campground Beach

    Kirk Creek Campground is a is a blufftop camping spot for RV and tent campers in the southern Big Sur area. The campground has access to a narrow rocky beach […]

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  • Limekiln State Park Beach

    The small beach at Limekiln State Park sits in the shadow of a tall bridge on Highway 1 in the southern Big Sur area. It’s a rock and sand beach […]

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  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

    Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park on the Big Sur Coast is home to iconic McWay Falls. It’s just a short walk out on a trail to an overlook where many […]

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  • Andrew Molera State Park

    Andrew Molera State Park Beach is a long sandy, rocky, and driftwood-covered beach along the base of the Big Sur headlands. This is the largest state park along the Big […]

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  • Sunset State Beach

    Sunset State Beach is located west of the city of Watsonville, CA. This is a popular state park with a campground, nice day use picnic facilities, and a long wide […]

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  • Manresa Uplands Beach (Sand Dollar Beach)

    The Manresa Uplands Campground unit of Manresa State Beach has a separate entrance south of La Selva Beach, CA. This facility has a day-use parking area in addition to its […]

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  • Seacliff State Beach

    Seacliff State Beach is a long sandy beach on the waterfront of Aptos, CA. This is a great place for sunbathing or walking the sandy shores of Monterey Bay in […]

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  • New Brighton State Beach

    New Brighton State Beach is a wide sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay. This state park has a large hillside campground in a wooded area surrounded by […]

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  • Waddell Creek Beach

    Waddell Creek Beach is the northernmost beach in Santa Cruz County. This wide sandy beach is part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest and one of the largest […]

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  • Francis Beach – Half Moon Bay State Beach

    Francis Beach is the southernmost beach in Half Moon Bay State Beach. Francis Beach has a nice grassy park with many of picnic tables and barbecues on the bluff above […]

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  • China Camp State Park Beach

    China Camp State Park is a vast state park on San Pablo Bay north of San Francisco. China Camp Beach is located at China Camp Village just off North San Pedro […]

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  • Angel Island State Park – Perles Beach

    Perles Beach is on the west side of Angel Island State Park on San Francisco Bay near Tiburon. It’s hidden away below the main loop road near the Camp Reynolds […]

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  • Angel Island State Park – Quarry Beach

    Quarry Beach is located on the east side of Angel Island State Park on San Francisco Bay near Tiburon. This narrow sandy beach is near Fort McDowell about a 1/3 […]

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  • Kirby Cove Beach

    Kirby Cove Beach is at the base of the Marin Headlands north of the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The view from the beach is stunning with the city of […]

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  • Steep Ravine Beach

    Steep Ravine Beach is a small secluded beach at the bottom of a steep canyon below Highway 1 south of Stinson Beach, CA. This is a rocky beach through drift […]

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  • Lawson’s Landing Beach

    Lawson’s Landing is a privately-owned campground and resort on a wide sandy beach known under the name of Sand Point at the entrance to Tomales Bay. The resort caters to tent and RV […]

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  • Doran Beach

    Doran Beach in Doran Regional Park is located along the spit at the entrance to Bodega Harbor from Bodega Bay. Doran Spit is a great place to view the bay, […]

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  • Bodega Dunes

    Bodega Dunes is a huge state park campground and coastal dunes structure in the town of Bodega Bay. The beach at Bodega Dunes is vast and remote so beachcombers will […]

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  • Wrights Beach

    Wrights Beach is the hugest sandy beach between Bodega Bay and the Russian River in Sonoma County. It’s a great destination for day or overnight use. There is a campground […]

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  • Willow Creek Beach on Russian River

    Willow Creek Beach is located on the sandy banks of the Russian River near the town of Jenner. The beach is part of Willow Creek Environmental Camp in Sonoma Coast […]

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  • Fort Ross Campground Beach

    There is a rocky driftwood covered beach below the Reef Campground and Day-Use Area at Fort Ross State Historical Park. The campground has 20 camping spots and access to the […]

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  • Timber Cove

    Timber Cove Beach is at the Timber Cove Campground and Boat Landing about 14 miles north of Jenner in Sonoma County. The campground caters mostly to RV campers, but there […]

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  • Stillwater Cove Regional Park

    Stillwater Cove Regional Park is a Sonoma County beach and park about 16 miles north of Jenner, CA. The sandy beach is in a small but deep cove where Stockhoff […]

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  • Ocean Cove

    Ocean Cove Beach is a rocky shoreline below a privately-owned campground in Sonoma County. The beach can be accessed by the general public by means of the campground for day-use, but will […]

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  • Gerstle Cove

    Gerstle Cove Beach is directly below the visitor center building in Salt Point State Park. The waters in Gerstle Cove are protected by Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve so fishing […]

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  • Gualala Point Regional Park

    Gualala Point Regional Park Beach marks the northernmost point along the Sonoma County Coast. Despite the name, the park is not in the nearby town of Gualala which lies across […]

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  • Fish Rock Beach at Anchor Bay Campground

    Fish Rock Beach is in front of Anchor Bay Campground in the community of Anchor Bay just north of Gualala, California. The privately-owned campground is in the bottom of Fish […]

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  • Manchester State Park Beach

    Manchester Beach in Manchester State Park has about four miles of beach in Mendocino County north of Point Arena, CA. The sandy beach and dunes at Manchester stretch from Point […]

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  • Navarro Beach

    Navarro Beach is located at the mouth of the Navarro River in Mendocino County. It’s part of Navarro River Redwoods State Park, a long narrow park along the Navarro River […]

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  • Albion Flat Beach

    Albion Flat Beach is at the back of a protected cove below a picturesque Highway 1 bridge. The Albion River Bridge is a combination of woodenen trestle and deck truss […]

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  • Van Damme State Park

    Van Damme Beach State Park is located at the mouth of Little River in the small town of Little River. In addition to having an excellent beach in a semi-protected […]

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  • Russian Gulch State Park

    Russian Gulch State Park, north of Mendocino, has a sandy beach below the Highway 1 bridge whereby Russian Gulch Creek flows into a narrow cove. Kids can play in the safe […]

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  • Caspar State Beach

    Caspar Headlands State Beach is in a deep cove called Caspar Anchorage in the small Mendocino Coast town of Caspar. The beach itself is a sandy spot sandwiched by the […]

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  • MacKerricher State Park – Main Beach

    Main Beach is the beach closest to the main entrance and campgrounds in MacKerricher State Park north of Fort Bragg. It’s a dark sand beach that is about a mile […]

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  • Westport Beach at Wages Creek

    Wages Creek Beach is a privately-owned beach located at the Westport Beach RV Park & Campground north of Westport. The official name of the beach is Wages Creek Beach but […]

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  • Westport-Union Landing State Beach

    Westport-Union Landing State Beach is a three mile long rocky shoreline north of the small town of Westport, CA. The main sandy beach in this state park is at Howard […]

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  • Usal Beach

    Usal Beach at Usal Campground is the southernmost beach in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park along the Mendocino North Coast. It’s a remote dark sand beach who’s over a mile long […]

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  • Needle Rock Beach

    Needle Rock Beach is near the Needle Rock Visitor Center at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. From the visitor center walk back on the road a bit to the old wooden […]

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  • Jones Beach

    Jones Beach is located below Jones Beach Camp on the bluff between two creek drainages in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Jones Beach Camp is an environmental tent campsite along the […]

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  • Mattole River Beach

    Mattole Beach is at the sandy mouth of the Mattole River at the north end of King Range National Conservation Area. This remote area is reached with a long winding […]

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  • Samoa Beach

    Samoa Beach is the long strand of beach on the ocean side of the Samoa Peninsula near Eureka. The small community of Samoa with its historic Samoa Cookhouse Restaurant is […]

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  • Clam Beach County Park

    Clam Beach is a Humboldt County Park just off Redwood Highway 101 near the city of McKinleyville. The beach is named for the plentiful razor clams that you can dig […]

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  • Agate Beach at Patrick’s Point State Park

    Agate Beach is the substantial main beach at the north end of Patrick’s Point State Park near Trinidad. It requires a twisty steep hike from the parking lot at the […]

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  • Big Lagoon County Park Beach

    Big Lagoon and the beach are part of three different parks: Big Lagoon County Park, Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area, and Humboldt Lagoons State Park. The ocean beach is a long […]

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  • Dry Lagoon Beach

    Dry Lagoon is one of four separate lagoons in Humboldt Lagoons State Park. Unlike the other three large open-water lagoons, Dry Lagoon is mostly a marshy wetlands who is best […]

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  • Gold Bluffs Beach

    Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is a remote beach in northern Humboldt County. This is a long sandy beach that is great for walking, beachcombing and […]

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  • Enderts Beach

    Enderts Beach is a remote beach along the Del Norte Coast south of Crescent City. The beach is known mostly for its tide pools, but is value the effort to […]

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  • Clifford Kamph Memorial Park

    Clifford Kamph Memorial Park is a substantial open meadow between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean near the Oregon state border. The park has a tent-only campground, a day-use picnic […]

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