Adding the word "beach" to a campground name is an all-too-common way to get people's attention, but when we think of beach camping in California, we want to be right on the beach or next to it, not on the cliff above it, across the road or so far away you'd need binoculars to see it. We've put together lists of beach campgrounds in California that meet our strict requirements. in most cases, we've been there ourselves, just to be sure the place is what it claims to be.
In order from south to north:
Southern California Beach Camping: Beach campground and campsites in and around San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles
Ventura County California Beach Camping: Ventura and Oxnard beach camping options
Santa Barbara California Beach Camping
Central Coast California Beach Camping: Beach campgrounds between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz
- Northern California Beach Camping: Beaches from Santa Cruz, all the way to the Oregon border
Free Beach Camping in CaliforniaYou don't get much for free these days, and California beach camping is no exception. All of the places that we've found that offer proper campsites and the like charge a fee, even the most primitive of them.
We found one reference online to a free beach campground near Orick in northern California, near the freshwater lagoon. In case you find it, too, we can save you some trouble. After talking to a State Park Ranger, we've confirmed that there are no free campgrounds in the Orick area.