6 miles north of Pismo Beach
San Luis Obispo County
Protected from heavy surf and winds by Point San Luis, Avila Beach is usually warmer than other beaches along the central coast. Half-mile long Avila Beach spreads along the shore of San Luis Obispo Bay, 6 miles north of Pismo Beach. Avila Beach is known as a family friendly stretch of sand.
Three piers extend into San Luis Obispo Bay near Avila Beach. The 1,685-foot Avila Beach Pier is a favorite for fishing and general sight-seeing. The nearby Harford Pier is a national historic structure. Today it is used by commercial fishing boats for off-loading their catches. California Polytechnic State University maintains a third pier for use in the marine research. It is not open to the public.
During the summer lifeguards are on duty at Avila Beach. To learn more about Avila Beach's Junior Lifeguard Program, see our ACTIVITIES page.
Fisherman's Beach is in Port San Luis, the smaller of their two beaches. At Fisherman's dogs are allowed to romp off-leash as long as they are under their owners' control. Public restrooms are found at Port San Luis harbor at the Coastal Getaway building.
Olde Port Beach is west of Avila Beach, along Avila Beach Drive. The beach is most popular with families and college students from Cal Poly who want to spend a few hours away from their studies relaxing in the sun. Nearby are some free parking spaces as well as metered parking. Portable restrooms are available while repairs are being made on the permanent restrooms.
South of Avila Beach at the end of a short trail is beautiful Pirate's Cove. In days past the beach was used by smugglers bringing in liquor. Today the beach is popular as a clothing-optional destination. The trail is easy to follow and has wooden steps in places, but it does require a degree of agility to negotiate. There are no restrooms or other facilities there.
Tourism is the heart of the town of Avila Beach's economy. Upscale resorts, hot springs spa treatments, tours, golf, tennis and other activities abound. The Avila Beach Promenade is a closed off section of Front Street that runs along the edge of the beach.
To the west is the tiny community of Port San Luis with several restaurants, the Harford Pier, a public boat launch ramp, Olde Port Beach, and Fisherman's Beach.
From sandy Avila Beach, a quick stroll into town will take you to a number of shops that cater to beach-goers.
On weekends during the summer the free Avila Beach Trolley connects Port San Luis, Avila Beach, Shell Beach, and Pismo Beach,
with various other stops along the way.
Avila Beach Trolley
During peak times in the summer Avila Beach can become crowded and parking difficult to find. The limited number of free parking spaces along the streets near the beach fill quickly with early arrivals. A paid parking lot is available in Avila Beach one block from the shore. It is open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Parking fees are $5 for the day or $1 after 4:00 PM.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs,
pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as
playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly."
Learn more about ocean safety at
CA State Parks: Ocean Safety