From north to south, California boasts 840 miles of coastline just waiting for exploration by the avid outdoor enthusiast. A vacation to the Golden State gives you the opportunity to combine your interests in surfing and camping. While you can’t just park your vehicle and set up your cheap roof top tent on any beach you choose, there are a number of designated camping areas in close proximity to the beach so that you can spend all day on the water and sleep out under the stars at night. Here are some of the best spots in California for camping and surfing by region.
Both camping and surfing can be more of a challenge in the northern areas of the state because the weather can be less favorable due to fog and wind. However, if you have waterproof seat covers in place and feel you are up for anything, you may enjoy a camping trip to Half Moon Bay State Beach. About an hour south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay offers camping on the bluff overlooking the beach and at least one fairly consistent surfing spot.
Anchor Bay campground is a privately owned surfing haunt. You’ll find camping spots in the shelter of the beachside redwoods as well as directly on the sand. This is a good spot for the rugged outdoor enthusiast who is willing to endure cold and damp to catch some awesome waves. Another attraction of Mendocino County, where Anchor Bay is located, is abalone diving.
Central California is popular with surfers year-round because it picks up both southwest and northwest swells. Morro Bay State Park is a very popular site for camping and surfing, so if you’re interested in meeting new people, this may be the spot for you. The tall eucalyptus trees in the park are beautiful but do little to muffle sound between the campsites, which are fairly close together.
If you’re looking for more solitude in a primitive setting (no showers on site), you may prefer a trip to Plaskett Creek Big Sur. Though amenities are scanty, the landscape is practically untouched, making it ideal for the camper who likes to stay as close to nature as possible. As for the surfing, Sand Dollar Beach typically offers something to surf year-round, with southwest swells predominating during the spring and summer and northwest swells during the fall and winter. However, be prepared for fickle conditions.
Because the area is so densely populated and surfing is so popular in Southern California, you may have difficulty finding a secluded camping spot that is also close to the beach. Nevertheless, there are still several good options for a surf camping trip.
Regardless of the type of surfing you do, San Onofre State Beach offers a variety of fun surf breaks. However, if you would like to check them out for yourself, you must book well in advance because this is one of California’s most visited state parks. Nestled in a small canyon just north of Malibu, Leo Carrillo State Park offers affordable accommodations and coin-operated hot showers right in the heart of the prime surfing grounds around Los Angeles.
Ultimately, your personal preferences determine the perfect spot for a California surfing/camping trip. Once you’ve decided where to go, load up the Chevy suburban bike racks and hit the road!