Explore Destinations for Best Beach Camping in California

Explore Destinations for Best Beach Camping in California

California has some of the best beaches of the world spread across its 840 miles of biodiverse coastline. These beautiful beaches attract many people from around the globe who love to take a long drive, to the beaches, along Highway 1.

While taking a long drive via the picturesque coastline, one could easily spot the area’s vivid and diverse wildlife, including the migrating whales and energetic otters.

Once you reach your destined beach, you could enjoy surfing on the beautiful waves, water sports, fishing, swimming, boating, wading, and when you’re all set to rest, you could spend the night under the stars by setting up beach camping in California.

Suppose you have never done camping along the Californian coastline. In that case, this is your chance because we are here to give you all the information you need on the best beach camping in California, to enjoy a night where you could sleep by the Pacific waves.

Shipman Creek Campsite

If you are one of the adventurers who love it wild, rough, and rugged, then The Lost Coast Trail of the Humboldt County is your dream location. It is a place for true adventure freaks as The Lost Coast cuts through one of the wildest sections of the vast Californian coastline.

If you want to access the beach, you would have to travel on foot as the area is too steep and rugged does not have any roads. This trail is not meant for the faint of heart as it takes almost four full days to finish this 25.3-mile trail.

The hike will be through rough terrains, and you would have to carry your food, water, shelter, and clothing along with you. This beach camping in Northern California is just worth it because of the dramatic scenery you get to enjoy all along.

The scene wherein the King Range mountains get dipped into the wide ocean’s lap with the black sand beach watching the scene with child-like quirky laughter is a dream-like view.

If you turn to be lucky enough, you might even catch a glimpse of the Roosevelt Elk, which resides in this part.

Mendocino Grove

In case rough and rugged is not your type, you want to go camping near the coastline, this place is for you. The best part about glamping in Mendocino Grove is that they provide luxurious and spacious tents.

Yes, you can book from among 60 roomy tents if you like camping luxuriously. These tents they provide has all the necessary amenities like cozy comforters, comfy beds, and soft linens.

If you aren’t in the mood to eat and want to spend some quality time at your campsite, you could also avail of communal gas barbeques from them. But you would have to arrange for your grilling utensils, cookware, and cutlery.

Though Mendocino is not situated on the shore, it’s just adjacent to the coast, and you could also access Mendocino’s various other beaches taking a quick drive.

You could also rent an outrigger from Catch-a-Canoe, which is merely a quick walk down one of the campsite’s trails. Then you could spend your entire day paddling along the Big River that flows from the campsite to mix into the ocean eventually.

Coast Camp

Looking forward to experiencing the best beach camping in California? One of the best spots to try backpacking is in the Bay Area’s national park, known as the Point Reyes National Seashore of Marin County.

With 14 different sites, this hike-in campground is in the dunes near Limantour Beach. You can reach the spot using a 1.7 mile wide and flat road, a dirt and gravel road.

There is water all over with vault toilets and picnic tables, which assures that you would not be bereft of human contact, but you might feel like staying in a remote area due to lack of cell service.

In case you love bonfires and barbecues, you could collect driftwood from the beach and build yourself a bonfire.

  • Disclaimer – do not forget to get a beach bonfire permit from the Bear Valley Visitor Center along with your beach camping permit.

Marshall Beach

To try something different, fun-filled, and interesting, you could go for a boat-in campsite which lies in the northern end of the Tomales Bay State Park neighboring the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Despite several beaches that permit beachside camping in that area, people still love to go to the small and sandy cove of Marshall Beach, which lies across Marshall’s bay.

If you want to enjoy the true beauty of nature while sitting in the lap of nature, then you should plan your trip to Marshall Beach during the fall. That is the best time of the year to experience something true and unique, like Tomales Bay’s bioluminescence.

Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon wherein light-emitting sea creatures like algae cause a glittering effect underwater, sparkling blue and white light. You can enjoy this natural scenic beauty in the fall while sitting under a dark and moonless night.

Steep Ravine Campground and Cabins

You can experience an almost traditional camping California coast at the Steep Ravine Campground and CabinsThe cabins built in the Steep Ravine are not for experiencing glamping.

There is no availability of good amenities and facilities like there are in glamping sites. When you tread a few steps from the shore in Mount Tamalpais State Park, you will find ten primitive structures with no water or electricity supply or even toilets.

If you plan to visit this campsite, you must carry your sleeping bags, cooking amenities, and other necessities. However, there will be drinking water, vault toilets, and an old fashioned stove for emergency use.

Try to plan your trip during negative tide to have a fair chance at soaking yourselves in the Steep Ravine Hot Springs near the cabins. To experience these geothermal vents, you will have to time your visit accordingly because these vents on the beach lying at the cliffs base only get exposed during a low tide.

You can enjoy a hot springs cave along with the locals, or you could even dig yourself a personal bathtub right on the beach.

Treebones Resort

Plan a weekend getaway to the Big Sur, home to a few of California’s most-photogenic coastline. If you want to experience one of the best beach camping in California, then the Treebones Resort is a great option.

This coastal campsite situated off Highway 1 in the southern end of the Big Sur coast is one of the glamping sites with six yurts. You could also get yourself clicked in one of the “nests” built by a local artist named Jayson Frann.

The structures made out of woven driftwood and sticks are not waterproof; hence, you must carry your sleeping bag and a backup tent.

And if you don’t like the damp weather, you could go up to the domed Autonomous Tent, which rests high on the hillside. There you will have access to over 500 square feet of living space, a compostable flushing toilet, and even a shower.

Kirk Creek Campground

Want to experience true traditional car camping? Well, you can experience outdoor camping the traditional way in the Kirk Creek Campground of Big Sur. This scenic camping destination overlooks the Pacific Ocean with spots meant for RV camping and tents.

There are 40 sites wherein each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and eight people and two cars. Want to know something quite important? In case you are booking sites, make sure you book a site from among 8-22 as they are the best campsites.

They are the ones that lie farthest to Highway 1 and closest to the ocean. If you don’t like damp campsites or grounds, this is the perfect spot for you as Kirk Creek Campground is a dry campground equipped with vault toilets.

Dry campgrounds and vault toilets mean that you have to carry your water.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Campground

Experience the best beach camping in California at an environmental campsite. There are two campsites in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, both of which lie right above the McWay Falls and around a half-a-mile hike away from the parking lot.

Though you won’t catch a glimpse of the famous falls, you sure will be the only people alone in the park once it closes at night.

You could spend your day lavishly while hiking to Cone Peak, which is at a glorious 5,155 feet. At night you could enjoy some sumptuous Omakase at the Sushi Bar at Treebones Resort.

If you feel like going on a late-night adventure, book yourself a hot springs time at Esalen.


In case your research on California beach campgrounds has ended, take note of this very important information. Wildfires still are a common occurrence in the natural areas around California.

Before planning a trip or reaching your desired campsite, make sure to stay updated on whether it is safe to visit the spot at that time, news on wildfires, and closures.


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