San Onofre Campground and day-use parking along Old Highway 101 adjacent to the beautiful sandstone bluffs. This beach below is popular with swimmers and surfers with six rugged dirt access trails cut into the bluff above. All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. The campground offers cold outdoor showers and chemical toilets. No RV hookups are available, however, there is a RV dump-station.
We just spent 4 wonderful nights camping at San Onofre Bluffs with our 4 and 6 year old children. We brought a wagon to wheel the kids and gear down to the beach (a decent sized hike). The beach was spectacular and not too crowded. Make sure you bring a noise machine because the freeway noise is LOUD at night.
Pros: fantastic beach Cons: noisy, no hookups, spots are very close together with no dividers/privacy
Kinda hard to get to the beach, camp sites are nice and have a table. Bathrooms can be far, we scootered to them
Small sites, some are better than others. I took pictures of each type. Beach is very rocky, not much of a family beach but good for surfing. No hookups, there is a septic dump. Fire pits and tables at each site. Very close to the highway but there is a hill in between some of the camp. Also close to the nuclear plant, I don’t know much about that.
I read the reviews before coming, so I knew what to expect. I was aware of the showers with the bees, the freeway, the train and that it is a glorified parking lot. We brought ear plugs and slept like babies. During the day, we were down at the beach so it didnt bother us. The trains do run passenger and freight trains, the passenger trains are quieter and shorter, but we did get to see a long freight train carry lots and lots of tanks which was interesting.
The RV sites are close together, but our neighbors were, friendly and nice. We had plenty of room for our popup camper with awning out and our car in the space.
We woke up to a view of the ocean past the bluff (not all sites have a view so we felt lucky for that). There is a hike down to the beach (we went down trail 5) that does have a lot of river rock, but low tide gets you our past the rocks into the sand, there were surfers out but we had the shore to ourselves to play in the surf. When it's high tide and the wave retreats it makes a really cool sound with the rocks tumbling in the surf. We went down to watch the sunset and only had a couple other people on the whole beach, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
The showers provided to rinse off did have bees during the day (at least 2 of the showers that were near us) so we had to forego rinsing off then. The toilets are rv foot flush toilets, at least it wasnt a stinky pit. The hosts did hose them out daily and kept them well stocked.
There are sinks there to rinse your dishes, drinking fountains provided but no potable water available on site to fill any tanks, plan on filling up before you come or bring enough water with you to last. There are dump stations on your way put to empty your tanks.
We packed up before check out time of noon and went to pay for a day pass to enjoy the beach awhile longer before we left, we were told our camp fee went all day so that saved us the daily rate, we went down to trail 1 and that beach was completely different, soft sandy beach, no rocks and still not a lot of people.
All in all it was not the nicest campground we've stayed at, but it was convenient to the beaches and they were nice enough that we would stay here again.
The campground is super long. Which is good there are a lot of spots but it also feels sort of crammed and no privacy. They have cold outdoor showers and vault toilets. If you have never been to the area it's super confusing how to get to the beach. You can go to the public Access beach where it says 15 $ but if you are camping at San onofre, they will let you go in. If you go to the beach from the campsite there are a few trails. I will tell you we attempted to go down three different trails and couldn't make it. It's so steep, dangerous and not maintained. You really need hiking gear to get down it. I felt unsafe in my swimsuit and flip flops climbing down a steep bluff to get to the beach. The website makes it seem like it is an easy walk. It is not. If you go to trail one it was the most accessable. It was still really sketchy and a super steep hill for like half a mile but if you're desperate enough you will go down it. The first time we went to the public Access we had to wait in line for a hour. When it's really busy you just sit and wait basically until someone leaves so you can park. It just depends on the time you're there. Other than that the beach is awesome it's really unhabited, so not your typical Sandy white perfect beaches. The side by the bluffs are almost nicer bc there are a lot less rocks. The public Access side is really long but the side I was on the whole shore was Rocky where the water touched the sand. Seeing the ocean by the bluffs is pretty cool. But it comes with a price at this place. There is a lot of road noise which isn't unbearable and a metro train that passes through all night by the campsites.
$40 per night gets you a fire pit, table, bathrooms, water, showers, and the beach view.
Hard to beat the scenery here. Camping cliff side along the beach in Southern California. The camp grounds are a little cramped. Seem more designed for RV’s and trailers but we don’t mind. You can take dogs here and hike down to the beach from trails 1&6. Bathrooms are clean. Only outdoor showers though. I’ll go again!
If you can get over the train coming by multiple times a night you will enjoy this campground. Beautiful beach views but frequent trains. Great for local oc residents
We stayed here for Labor Day weekend and it was packed! There are no hookups but you can use a generator. We were surrounded by tent campers with 15 people in a site who partied all night yet complained when we used our generator during generator hours. It’s a hike to the beach and even then it’s more of a surfer’s beach than one for kids.
Growing up in SoCal, I had thought this would be a lousy place to go camping when I would drive by on the 5 Freeway. But after I had gone with a group of friends for a weekend trip, I totally changed my mind. And here are the reasons why:
- You can't hear the freeway traffic
- The beach is uncrowded, plus every camp site has a fire ring and picnic table.
- You can set up your tent or bring your RV (some guys merely set up cots next to their cars on the asphalt and slept under the stars)
- World-renowned surfing just up the beach
- The campground offers cold outdoor showers and chemical toilets. No RV hookups are available, however, there is a RV dump-station.
- Super long paved bike ride with no traffic which is great for the kids.
- Great surf fishing
- Unofficial nude beach is just south of the camp ground near Camp Pendleton.
- The San Onofre Nuclear Plant was closed in 2013 if that is a concern for you.