By Penny Fox
Do you dream of white sandy beaches and pitching your tent on one of California’s sunny coastal areas? Most beach campsites are maintained by California State Parks and are charged with protecting and preserving the environment, plant and animal species, historic landmarks, eco-sensitive areas, and Native American sites. Over 67 million people travel to the 340 miles of coastline to hike the 4,500 miles of trails, and camp at the 15,000 campsites across the state. Below are five of the most beautiful beach campsites in the Golden State.
This RV-only camping ground offers three miles of sandy shores and overnight camping spots can be reserved through Los Angeles’ online reservation system. Land lovers will appreciate the four miles of bike trails that are part of the larger 22-mile coastal bike system called the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. If you prefer water activities, you can boat, scuba dive, snorkel, swim, and windsurf. The campsites have hookups for RVs, but you’ll want to get your reservation early since there is typically a six-month wait.
Located along the Pacific Coast Highway, Bolsa Chica State Beach is a sun worshiper’s dream. And if you want to find the perfect wave for surfing, the prime waves and surf breaks here are some of the best around. Whether you’re into surfing, beach volleyball, swimming, or just relaxing on the beach soaking up the sun, you’ll find Bolsa Chica State Park to be the perfect place to stay at one of the 50 campsites. Tent camping isn’t permitted, but fire rings are available until 10 p.m. for late-night beach parties. The visitors center has exhibits and picnic tables and outdoor showers are available. You can even rent a special wheelchair for the beach for those who need it. One of the most unique activities for this state beach is the hand-fishing. After obtaining a fishing permit, you can try your hand at catching California grunion, a type of fish that uses the sandy southern California beaches for spawning.
One of the few beach areas in the state that offers tent camping, there are a limited number for those who prefer that to RV sites. Literally steps away from the ocean, you might be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming in the distance. If you want to get up close and personal, you could rent a boat and go whale-watching. There are several aquariums nearby, and a visitor’s center where you can get more information on the area. Beach lovers who don’t wish to stay overnight can still enjoy the beach by using the five-acre law for picnics and beach volleyball games.
A sunken ship, the SS Palo Alto, can be seen lying in its watery grave on Seacliff State Beach near Santa Cruz, California. The first state beach granted for the preservation of land, Seacliff Beach is the natural habitat of birds, mammals, marine animals, and land and aquatic plant life. Surfing, fishing, hiking, biking, geocaching, and picnics are very popular here, and RV camping is permitted with fire pits for outdoor enjoyment. Beach-side grilling and dog walking on the beach are also very popular activities at Seacliff Beach.
Point Reyes National Seashore is 100 square-miles of the most picturesque national camping beaches in the country with over 33,000 acres of natural coastal beauty. If you stop by the visitor’s center, you’ll see a fence that was split during an earthquake in 1903 along the San Andres Fault line. The fault runs through the park and provides a great visual of the movement that has continued separating the peninsula from its original location 310 miles away. There are a total of three visitor centers, including one housed in a lighthouse that gives information on several points of interest in the park, such as the redwood structure built by the Miwok people many years ago. Tomales Point is where you may see elephant and harbor seals, tule elk, and over 490 species of birds. There are options for overnight lodging, including a hostel, two historic ranches, and several campgrounds that are only accessible by boat or hiking. RV and tent camping are both allowed, but check the Point Reyes website for additional information.