Beach Day at San Onofre

Rate this Adventure Orange County San Onofre

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.

Pack List

  • Water shoes or surf booties (the shoreline is covered by a cobblestone rock reef, often making walking into or out of the water difficult)
  • Snacks and water (there is nowhere to get food at the beach)
  • Beach activities (bocce balls, volleyball, cards, etc)
  • $15 or a California States Park Pass
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Chillin, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle, Surfing, Swimming

Skill Level:



Year Round


Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area

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