For many, once the sun comes out and summer rolls around, it can be hard to resist the urge to get outside and soak up some fun. If you relate, and you just need to unplug for a minute, Carlsbad offers some of the state’s best camping sites around. When your work has stacked up and you’re overloaded, it’s time to gather your camping gear, and head to Carlsbad State Beach for solitude and relaxation.
This San Diego beach and campground feature camping, swimming, surfing, skin diving, fishing and picnicking. The campground is especially popular in the summer, thanks to its scenic location which overlooks the picturesque Carlsbad Beach below. Even better, the campground offers direct access to the beach via a set of well-kept stairs. As a result of the popularity, the campground is reservation only, so don’t show up without one or you’ll likely be unable to stay.
When you’re done with the beach, check out the nearby California geography and some of the trails within the park. If the ocean isn’t your thing, a number of Campfire Programs, Junior Ranger Programs, and Nature Walks may be offered. That said, program availability changes with the season, so be sure to check signs posted on the restrooms and at the entrance station regarding park information during your visit.
At night, campers are gently caressed to sleep by the nearby ocean tide, lapping upon its secluded shoreline. There is plenty of privacy throughout, thanks to the large selection of flora and fauna throughout the campground. The campsites themselves are also spacious, with roughly half of them featuring electric hookups. Additionally, All restrooms and shower buildings have accessible facilities. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the unit Supervising Ranger.
South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is perfect for campers and individuals who love the ocean and the outdoors. Whether you’re looking surf the rolling waves, or paddle board out and take part in all that the north county coastline has to offer, you’re sure to have fun here.
This campground provided a perfect place to rest our heads during the Cotopaxi Questival. It provided a place for campfires, our tent and a great view.
We had a great stay here overnight. It was wonderful to be by the beach.
Stayed here for a quick night during Questival. The bathrooms are clean and the sites were well kept. The parking people are strict but the the ticket is the same cost as paying for parking so not to worry! Not too noisy at night or windy
There is one reason and one reason only to stay at South Carlsbad Campground, and that is Carlsbad State Beach. It's a pretty convincing reason. The sand is perfect. The waves consistent. The water warmer than normal (which probably isn't a good thing in the long run, but it feels like the Caribbean Sea right now.
The actual campground is huge and narrow with one road splitting the sites down the middle. All the sites are roughly the same with the major differences being depth and the amount of shade. The ocean side sites are premium priced ($50 during peak season) and the road side is more affordable ($35) but still pricey for a campsite. Especially one that has no privacy and is backed up against a highway. The Pacific Coast Highway but still. Sites are on sand, have a picnic table and a fire pit…and that's about it. If you're lucky, we weren't, you'll have some shade or privacy to one direction or another. Not many sites do so google earth it if you can. There are pay showers, flush toilets and a camp store with booze, ice cream bars and flip-flops if you forget yours.
And it's busy…all the time. Most sites are booked in advance most of the peak seasons and the camp also acts as the access point for locals and tourists accessing big portions of the beach. With nearly 200 sites and additional traffic be prepared for sand always being kicked up, kids wandering aimlessly and noise from generators, partiers and traffic.
That all sounds not so great, but the location of the camp on the cliffs overlooking the beach is still pretty great. It's not Big Sur, but it if you're looking for beach you won't find a finer spot to camp just about anywhere in SoCal. San Elijo Campground down the road is a smaller version of Carlsbad SB but is also hard to get a spot in without reservations.
Overall, I'm giving Carlsbad SB Campground 2 1/2 Tent Stakes of Awesomeness. It isn't wilderness, but it is the beach. The location makes it worth it. Car, RV or Van camping is more fun that tent camping just because of all the sand, and to cut down on noise, and surf spots within walking distance.
Pro-Tip #1: California has its own reservation site now. reservecalifornia.com. You can still see the basics on reserveamerica but can't actually reserve it. The new reservecali site is kind of a dick.
Pro-Tip #2: The far south end of the camp has the most shade/privacy brush, and only has sites on the ocean side so you'll have far more privacy.
Pro-Tip #3: Google Earth your site. The difference between sites next to each other is big when you're talking about any versus zero shade.
Pro-Tip #4: Pizza Port Brewing for pizza and beer. You'll be glad you did.
Super beautiful area (obviously), with a tent site overlooking the beach (but fenced in). Wish we could camp on the actul beach but that is rare. There was privacy and it wasnt overcrowded.
I was not a huge fan of this campground but I think for out of towners, or for a fun time with friends by a bonfire, it would be great. Campground is in town, right on a major road/hwy, crowded, and loud. The beach is very rocky and not the best place to swim but if you go further north or south there are sandy beaches.
If you have have small children or are looking to party the location being so close to stores and food would be nice. Also it's a beautiful location and staff are friendly. So while I didn't find it to be that great others may have a lovely time.
We stayed 2 nights and wanted to stay a third. It was awesome to be so close to the ocean and be able to walk down to the beach. There were big groups on both sides of us, but that was just because we didn't notice how close our site was to the group site. There are bushes in between every site though so it really creates a lot of privacy. Hot showers, close to a grocery store and other conveniences. Carlsbad is also an adorable little town!
I've camped here a few times, in tents, and RV's. Beautiful views of the ocean, but a little cramped and noisy.
For years my family has camped at South Carlsbad State Beach. It's a great location right along the beach. It's very hard to get a reservation, you have to call exactly 6 months out, but we love coming here!
We spent 2 nights here. The sites along the road seem noisey. We stayed in a site on the side with ocean views. There's a small store in the campground if you forget anything. You can rent surfboards and boogie boards. There are showers that use tokens to buy time. I stepped on a stingray while we were there. Make sure you do the sting ray shuffle when you're going in and out of the water.