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San Onofre State Beach

San Onofre is the last stop in Orange County before you enter San Diego County and your last chance to surf the famous OC waves. San Onofre is definitely a surfing beach, with consecutively good waves year round. This beach is well known for being one of the most enjoyable surf breaks in California. The breaks are long, gentle and ideal for long boarding and beginning surfers.

The ocean wildlife is a sight to see. It is common to see whales, dolphins and sea lions offshore. The dolphins are known to come within a few feet of the surfers. Pelicans and sea gulls soar over the ocean and frequently dive into the waters for their catch of the day.

San Onofre’s state park is called San Mateo. This campground is in high demand in the summer with the locals, so it is recommended to make reservations early. There is only camping available during the summer months. The park is closed for camping during the winter (October – May).

There are spots to park your car or RV and just enough space for tents. San Onofre does NOT have the most spacious campground. The lots are predominantly on the pavement, with a picnic table and a grill on a small stretch of dirt about 2 ft from the next space. There are six trails that lead to the ocean from the campground. The trails are cut into the cliff and lead directly to the beach, but are very accessible. There is even a trail that starts at San Mateo Canyon and leads to San Mateo State Preserve. It is a nice little hike along the bluff.

There is beachfront parking but at a hefty price. Day parking at the bottom of the bluff is $10 dollars a day. There are also annual passes for $125 dollars available, which enable you to park at most of the state beaches. Do not park in the parkinglot on the cliff above the surf beach. The lot belongs to the San Onofre power plant, and you will be quickly escorted off.

An irritating thing about this beach and campground is its proximity to Camp Penalton, a military base on the OC/ San Diego border. There are frequent helicopter and jet fly-bys, which can be a little annoying during a relaxing time at the beach.

Open 6am-8pm
Fires in Rings only
No alcohol/glass containers
No dogs (allowed on trails with a leash)
No vehicles on the beach
No smoking
Public restrooms available