Gaviota Beach &
Jalama Beach Activities

Santa Barbara County

Nearby Activities and Events

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June 22-24, 2018
Parade, amusement rides, food, entertainment
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Information: (805) 735-8511
Flower Festival

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1½ miles east of Highway 101 near Gaviota Pass.
Take Old Coast road to Alisal Road
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Books of
Local Interest

Gaviota State Park and Beach Activities

Although there are lifeguards on duty during the summer months, visitors to Gaviota State Park's beach should use caution in the surf. Rip-currents and rogue waves can be a hazard there. At low tide the tide pools offer some interesting exploring. Games such as volleyball are not permitted on the beach or in the campground.

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.


Experienced surfers take to the waves, wary of the mixture of sand and rock bottom that awaits them. Most head north or south of the park to pick up better waves. Three miles south is Molina Point which at times can have a good break.

Many surfers prefer the waves north of Gaviota Beach along an area of coast from the state park north to Point Conception, often referred to as The Ranch. Private ranch property along that section of the coast restricts beach access, so more adventurous surfers either make the long trek along the water's edge during low tide or use boats to reach their favorite surfing spots.

Boat Hoist

A key feature on the pier is the boat hoist. In order to use the hoist to launch recreational boats, owners and their assistants (known as Deckhands) must complete the Hoist Operator Training. After completion of the training and payment of a $150 annual use fee, trained personnel will receive a Hoist Operator Identification Card. Boat owners must also pass vessel inspection and obtain a Hoist Proximity Card which activates the card reader at the hoist.
Gaviata State Park Boat Hoist Handbook

boat hoist at Gaviota State Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA

Fishing from the Gaviota Pier

The 529-foot Gaviota Pier is open 24 hours a day, but day-use visitors to the park must leave by closing time (which varies by season). Those camping at the park have access to the pier all night. Many are hoping for halibut. More common catches are kelpfish, surfperch, bass, bonito, jacksmelt, sharks, rays, and mackerel. Kelp beds can interfere with fishing at times.

A scattering of lights along the pier help night fishermen, but many bring their own lanterns. On shore are fish-cleaning stations and restrooms. Bait and tackle are available in the park store.

Hiking in Gaviota State Park

A number of trails lead off into the park's back country. One of the most popular hikes is the ¾-mile hike to the Gaviota Hot Springs. Park near the trailhead 2 miles north of the park entrance along Highway 101. The moderate uphill hike is mostly in the sun. Watch out for poison oak and tics. Some people do swim in the hot springs.

Some hikers tackle the Beach to Back Country Trail, which begins at the campground, but it's a tough, hot hike up the ridges from the coast. In general, it is easier to start your hikes at trailheads near the north end of the park on higher ground and explore that region of the park. Some fantastic views of the coast and the Channel Islands can be attained by reaching some of the summits there.

Jalama Beach Activities

Into the Surf

High winds and rough surf make Jalama Beach a place to be wary when venturing into the water. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer. Many visitors enjoy a variety of water sports, including surfing, kite surfing, boogie boarding, and swimming.

Surfing, Kiteboarding and Windsurfing

The reliable winds bring many kiteboarders (or Kitesurfers) and windsurfers to this stretch of beach. Several recent shark attacks at Surfer Beach to the north along the Vandenberg Air Force Base coast have made surfers and others wary of venturing too far north from Jalama. Surfing right at Jalama is best in the morning before the wind picks up. To the south is a spot known as Tarantulas where waves are triggered by a rocky reef.

Kitesurfers face high winds, which is why it is recommend it for experts only. Kite leashes are considered mandatory. The launch area for kitesurfers is behind the store and upwind from there to the river.

windsurfers, Santa Barbara County, CA

Surf Fishing at Jalama Beach

Surf fishermen along the Jalama Beach coast have good luck landing kelpfish, cabezon, perch, bass, and even halibut. Bait and tackle are available in the Jalama Beach Store.

map of Jalama Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County, CA

Beach Combing at Jalama Beach

Walking along the edge of the surf at low tide, strollers are apt to see shells, driftwood, starfish, crabs, and a host of tide pool creatures. In places the beach can be rocky and strewn with seaweed. watch for dolphins and whales off-shore.

Games and Sports

Several sports courts are available in the park, including horseshoes and basketball. A playground with climbing apparatus, swings, and a lawn area makes a good place for younger children. Out on the beach popular games are Frisbee and kite flying.

Ocean Safety

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

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