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Beach Day at San Onofre

San Clemente, California

based on 7 reviews


Added by Scotti Shafer

San Onofre offers great waves, beach volleyball courts, and picnic tables with fire pits. The beach is also dog friendly, so pack up your car and head over.

This spot is no secret but it’s by far one of the best beaches California has to offer and has been regarded since the 1950s as a friendly surfing sanctuary. The beach is divided into three surf spots (named from North to South), known as “The Point,” “Old Man’s,” and “Dogpatch.” To access the beach you drive down a hill and onto the hard packed dirt road that parallels the beach. There is parking all along the beach so you just pick a spot to pull up and spend the day.

The Point - This wave (along with the other two) works best on a South swell but picks up any swell direction and is fun even when the surf is small. The beach area is rather small as it’s mostly eroded on the North end but the waves are fun. The wave breaks right and left and is popular among the classic longboard crowd.

Old Man’s - This is a great spot for learning to surf and a fun wave for surfers of all levels. The wave usually breaks on the outside and then reforms closer to the beach, naturally dividing the more experienced surfers (on the outside) from the newbies (on the inside).

Dogpatch - The South end of the beach (just past the beach volleyball courts) is reserved for Stand Up Paddling and Kayaking. There are fun waves and a good stretch of beach to hang out on. Just past the end of the road, there are a few hundred yards of beach between there and the power plant where dogs are allowed to run and play off leash.

NOTE: San Onofre is an extremely popular hangout spot in the summer and fills up fast. As such, the park rangers limit the number of cars that can enter (only allowing additional cars one at a time as cars leave the beach), so I recommend going early. On sunny summer days, the beach is usually full by 8:00am. If you’re not an early riser, this spot is still worth checking out, you’ll just have to wait in line for others to leave (the line usually moves quickly and rarely takes more than an hour), but I recommend bringing a snack and something to read while you wait. We usually grab breakfast-to-go at Bagel Shack in San Clemente and eat it while we wait.

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Stand Up Paddle
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
ADA Accessible

Beach Day at San Onofre Reviews

Best place to catch some waves. Keep in mind the beach is made up of small cobblestones, so be careful walking out to the waves. Can get pretty busy on the weekends and summers, so be prepared to get there early, so you can grab a parking spot. Definitely a place to plan to stay the whole day.

Iconic surf spot in California. Very popular for longboarders

It is such a classic California beach. It's a popular longbaording wave, and really reminds me of what surfing use to be like back in the day.

This beach is one of my favorites. Great waves!

San Onofre offers excellent waves, beach volleyball courts, and picnic tables with fire pits. Pack up your car and head over.

If you're looking for everything you've ever imagined a California beach day to be, this is it. Surf, chill, V-Ball, BBQ, swim, etc. you can do it all. You'll find longboards, shortboards, SUP's, alias, bodyboards...you name it, it's here and everyone is having a good time. Bring a positive attitude and leave the beach better than you found it.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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