Can You Camp On The Beach In California

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California is known for its beautiful, diverse, and long-stretching beaches. Camping on the beach can be a truly wonderful experience, barring the weather playing along. Seeing the sunrise from your tent is one of the best things. But can you camp on the beach in California?  

You can camp on beach campsites in California. These campsites are next to or very near the beaches, within walking distance. Most beaches do not allow camping directly on the beach. Special permits are required for direct beach camping in California.

While campers might be tempted to set up their tents or RVs on any local beach, this is usually not allowed. This is done to preserve the beach ecosystem and for environmental reasons. However, there are certain areas where camping on sandy shores in California is possible.

Camping On The Beach In California

There is a difference between camping directly on the beach and setting up camp on a space on grounds right next to the beach. Mostly camping grounds are adjacent or very near to the beach, but not on the actual beach.

The place where you set up your tent and other equipment would still be on grass grounds close to built-up facilities like bathrooms. These places are usually within a short walking distance to the beach or even right on the beach, but not yet on the sand.

The view is also impressive, where you can see the beach and ocean right from your camping site. The restrictions on direct beach camping are mainly because of environmental rules.

That being said, there are reservations that you can make to camp directly on the beach. If you do make it as far as actually camping on a beach in California, you would also have to obey to rules strictly


Before planning your camping trip to the beach, there are many other aspects to consider. For example, there would be warnings against getting rid of your rubbish correctly as this is a valid environmental concern. Before planning your camping trip at the beach, make sure you have considered all other aspects. Some places will only allow tents and not vans; some will only have day camping sites.

The more popular beaches will not allow anyone to set up camp on the sand. This is because there will ultimately be too many tourists and locals that would take the opportunity to camp there, resulting in damage to the beach ecosystem and environment.

Where To Camp On The Beach In California?

There is a place called Oceano Dunes SVRA in California that allows camping on the beach. Campers have to make a reservation anytime from 48 hours to 6 months before.

There are also specific rules that you should note before traveling to the site. If you have a trailer, keep it light because you will be driving on the sand to get to the state park. Once you are in the park and camping, watch out for warnings about fenced protected areas.

These areas are there to protect flora and fauna of the region, including some bird species and dune plants. While there are some restrictions on where to go and what to do, fun activities are allowed.

Some of these include swimming and surfing as well as horse riding on the stretch of beach included in the state park. If you want to fish, make sure to get a fishing license and enjoy a lovely fish barbeque for dinner. 

Another place that has been suggested to camp right on the beach in California is Catalina Island, which is one of the Channel Islands. Parson’s Landing is a campsite right on one of the sandy beaches on this island.

Campsites Near The Beach In California

A specific campground with very close access to the beach is Doheny State Beach Campground. This is arguably on the beach, as you could walk out of your RV and onto the sand

 in certain places.

This is an authentic beach camping experience at Dana Point, Southern California. You can enjoy surfing and swimming in the pools. If it’s high tide, the waves could come so close as to your RV doorstep.

Another campsite that is really close to the beach is Kirk Creek Campground, situated at California 1, Big Sur. This campsite looks out on the Pacific Ocean with a breathtaking view of the Big Sur coastline.

Kirk Creek has been called an “oceanside paradise” and offers other activities. You can enjoy some hiking trails nearby as well as try out the mountain biking trails. At Kirk Creek, you have the best of both worlds – a scenic beach view with the option of trails through forest and nature areas.

Can You Camp With A Tent Or An RV On A Beach?

You can camp using a tent or an RV on beaches in California that allow it. Some places also only allow RVs on their camping grounds. It’s essential to check the rules and regulations before booking your spot.

Other places will allow both tents and RVs, but almost no places are only for tent camping. Silver Strand State Beach campsite in Coronado is an example of an RV-only site.

It is a large parking lot located on the Silver Strand State Beach, which makes it accessible for campers to go to the beach anytime. There are, however, more camping ground options for both RVs and tents.

One of these places is called Thornhill Broome Beach camping grounds in Malibu. This campsite is a bit more basic in terms of facilities and unfortunately close to the highway but is a good alternative if you cannot camp right on the beach. The grounds cater for tents and RVs and are actually pretty close to the beach.


Camping straight on the beach is rare in California and requires special permits. However, camping on grounds near the beach is quite available, and many places have good facilities and recommendations.

There is a range of camping sites all over California that are not technically on the beach, but you get a similar experience. You can either take your tent or RV to these sites and enjoy the beautiful views and activities the beach has to offer.