8 Perfect Spots For Beach Camping In Southern California

Wake up with your feet in the sand.

By: Jamie Fleck
May 19, 2016

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What comes to mind when people think of Southern California? Gorgeous weather, palm trees, the ocean, and of course, the endless sandy beaches. So what better way to enjoy what the Southern California coast has to offer than to camp on the beach? Starting from the north in Santa Barbara and heading all the way down south to San Diego, here are 7 places to include on your next beach camping adventures.

1. Gaviota State Park

Photo: Josh Currie

Prefer a more secluded campsite? Camping at Gaviota State Park would be right up your alley. Nestled near a small town north of Santa Barbara, this beach offers stunning views of the ocean from the cliffs you can hike up on right by the campground. Learn more.

2. Santa Rosa Island

Photo: Michael Wigle

Wanting to support a National Park and also looking for a more remote beach camping experience? Santa Rosa Island offers both of those endeavors. You can reach Santa Rosa Island by ferry or charter plane. Making the trek to camp at Santa Rosa Island will definitely be worth the while, providing you a camping experience that most others wouldn’t get to savor. Learn more.

3. Thornhill Broome State Beach

Photo: Nina Pham

Imagine hearing the lull of the ocean waves as you fall asleep right on the sand, all in your own serene campsite. You will get to experience just that while camping at Thornhill Broome State Beach. The beautiful city of Malibu is also just minutes away. Learn more.

4. Point Mugu State Park

Photo: Jamie Fleck

Also just a few minutes away from Malibu is the majestic Point Mugu State Park. With rocky cliffs perfect for fishing, driftwood on the tranquil beach area, surrounding canyons, and two campgrounds, Point Mugu State Park is definitely a beautiful addition to your beach camping list. Learn more.

5. Leo Carillo State Park

Photo: Jamie Fleck

Sea caves, green hued rocks that appear straight out of a mermaid fairy tale, secluded coves, tide pools, you name it, Leo Carillo State Park has it. Although a bit more busier than beach camping areas north of it, Leo Carillo State Park is a fun campground to be at especially with its easy access to many hiking trails. Learn more.

6. Crystal Cove State Park

Photo: Mariya Dondonyan

For any backpacker who lives in Orange County, backcountry camping in Crystal Cove State Park might just be the perfect weekend getaway. Hiking the three miles into the campgrounds is rewarding itself just because of the seclusion and the scenic views, but hiking back out into the private beaches of Crystal Cove is the cherry on top. Learn more.

7. San Elijo State Beach

Photo: Jake Bothe

Just north of San Diego is the picturesque San Elijo State Beach. With rocky bluffs and the San Elijo lagoon, there is lots of scenery to enjoy while relaxing on the beach. With the city of Encinitas nearby, you can always venture into town to grab a nice dinner before heading back to your campsite to catch the beautiful sunset. Learn more.

8. San Mateo Campground


Photo: Grant Nyquist

Just north of San Diego is the picturesque San Elijo State Beach. With rocky bluffs and the San Elijo lagoon, there is lots of scenery to enjoy while relaxing on the beach. With the city of Encinitas nearby, you can always venture into town to grab a nice dinner before heading back to your campsite to catch the beautiful sunset. Learn more.

Cover photo: Michael Wigle

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More







Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.