Driving on the Beach

beach sunset

Driving on the Beach in California

Gone are the days of ‘beach blanket bingo’ where film crews glamorized California – the beautiful people, the nice vehicles, the sport of surfing and the glorious beaches. There are very few places left on the California coast that you can actually drive a vehicle on the sand, right next to the ocean. The military bases, oil corporations and the utility companies have the front row seats to the Pacific genocide, and the rest of the population is restricted with extreme limited access.

Baja California has minimal regulations on coastal access with a car. No pavement, no signs, no cell phone signal, and no help for miles – something to consider if you get stuck south of the border in Mexico. Baja has numerous places to explore below Ensenada, but asking locals is always a favored approach. Pay attention to private property signs and always close the cattle gate (if you found it closed).

Southern California, no beaches allow vehicle traffic. San Diego offers a sliver of sand @ Silver Strand SB, which is a developed campground for motorhomes and car campers, located right on the beach south of Coronado, CA. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, San Diego allows driving on sand and a favorite among active dogs, but not camping is allowed. In Los Angeles you can park a motorhome at a sandy, paved campground for a hefty overnight fee. Dockweiler Beach, right near the Chevron plant and LA sewage treatment facility. Sounds delightful, not.

Ventura & Santa Barbara Coastal Regions have many awesome State Beaches, but none allow vehicles on the sand.

AWD on the sand

Central Coast California:

  • Oceano SVRA – off road sand dunes and open camping on the beach. Day use or overnight camp fee required; near Pismo Beach, CA
  • Red, White and Blue Beach – nude beach w/ campground (now closed); north of Santa Cruz, CA

Northern California:
Lost Coast

  • Usal Beach Campground – redwood creeks and forests meets coast and cliffs. Camp fee for overnight use. Long dirt road access. No RVs!
  • Black Sands Beach (OHV 4×4 trail, now closed to all vehicles) near Shelter Cove, CA

chico couple

after-the-fun maintenance tip:

Salt water and sand is very corrosive to metal – which will rust your truck or car badly. Now that you’ve had fun on the beach, we remind you to clean the underneath of your vehicle ASAP. Spraying powerful hose in your wheel wells and all underneath the vehicle. You might need to lay on the ground and get wet to do this job properly. Some car wash places might be able to do this service for you, but it will cost ya.

Orange County Beach Camping

Orange County Coastal Camping

OC Beach Campgrounds

The overdeveloped Orange County coast is packed with condos, homes, parks and beaches, coastal villages, restaurants, shops and train tracks, so campgrounds in this region are few and far more popular than one might expect. Since Los Angeles has very limited beach camping options, most tourists wander further south for SoCal beach camping on the OC or San Diego coast line.  Orange County Coast Campground reservations are highly recommended all year long, so make sure to plan ahead.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

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Bolsa Chica State Park
Huntington Beach, CA

Crystal Cove State Park
Tent Camp Primitive

Moro Campground
Beach Cottages
Laguna Beach, CA

Doheny State Beach
Dana Point, CA

Huntington State Beach
Huntington Beach, CA

Newport Canals

Newport Dunes RV Resort
Newport Beach, CA

San Clemente State Beach
San Clemente CA

 

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see more on OC towns –
Seal Beach, CA
Huntington Beach, CA
Newport Beach, CA
Laguna Beach, CA
Dana Point, CA
Capistrano Beach
San Clemente CA

Ventura Beach Camping

Ventura Campgrounds

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Ventura County Park Campgrounds

on US Hwy 101 Seacliff / Mussel Shoals stretch of beach

Ventura City Parks

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

blue links lead to camp reservation services.

Ventura State Beach Campgrounds

Ventura State Parks

Ventura coastal towns

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Beach city w/ nice downtown, north of Los Angeles, CA

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Monterey Campgrounds

Monterey Bay Campgrounds

Monterey Beach Camping

The Monterey Bay of California is located south of the San Francisco peninsula, and north of the rugged Big Sur Central Coast. This is a popular region for tourism, coastal villages w/ shops and restaurants, parks and beaches, farms and farm stands.  With Santa Cruz mountains and redwoods as the backdrop, this coastline is also highly residential.

Camping along this coast is limited mostly to State Parks and few private RV park campgrounds. No primitive beach camping is allowed on State Beaches, no hike-in camp sites, no hidden cove tent sites, nor secret dirt roads with views over the Pacific. This is a very developed beach and bay, with the 4-lane freeway, main artery US Highway 101, bordering the entire shore.

If you are looking for free and a more rugged, scenic camp – head south to the Big Sur Coast, to find a dirt road camp on the ridge. The sweetest ocean view hike-in camp sites can be found to the north, in the Marin Headlands of Point Reyes, which can be found under Marin Camping.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

blue links lead to camp reservation services.camp

Monterey Area Campgrounds

(listed from south to north)

Monterey Pines RV Campground (Navy)

Monterey County Fairgrounds RV Park

Marina Dunes RV Park

Sunset State Beach State Parks
South Campground

Manresa State Beach State Parks
Uplands Campground

Seacliff RV Park

Seacliff State Beach Campground State Parks

New Brighton State Beach State Parks

Santa Vida RV Park, Santa Cruz, California

Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Campground, Pescadero

Pelican Point RV Park, Half Moon Bay

Half Moon State Beach State Parks
Francis Beach Campground

camping monterey

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seaside towns along coast at
Monterey Bay up to San Francisco –

(listed from south to north)