225 Avenida Calafia
San Clemente, CA
Day Use Parking: $15
Day Use Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
San Clemente's 4-mile coastline is divided into a number of popular beaches, including North Beach, San Clemente City Beach, and San Clemente State Beach.
Along most of their length the narrow beaches are guarded by high bluffs, interrupted by an occasional ravine. Running along the edge of the beach at the foot of the bluffs is a railroad line. With the combination of precipitous bluffs and the railroad tracks, safe access to the beaches is limited to a number of key places.
San Clemente Pier is at the heart of the city beach. Near the pier is a railway station, making it convenient for passengers to hop off a train and be on the beach with just a few steps.
A dozen beach access points are spread along San Clemente City Beach, some combined with facilities, others simply a path to the sand. All parking lots are metered at $1.50 per hour. Most take credit cards.
San Clemente has two stations along the railroad line that runs along the edge of the beach - the North Beach Station and the San Clemente Pier Station. Facilities near each station include parking and restrooms. A ticket machine is located at the station, but there are no attendants.
Riders have their choice of Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner or Metrolink's Orange County Line.
Trains run from San Luis Obispo San Diego. Two daily, morning trains to San Clemente Pier take about 45 minutes from Santa Ana with stops at Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. A pair of northbound trains stop at San Clemente Pier in the late afternoon. Check their website for precise times: Amtrak Timetables
Metrolink trains run between Oceanside and Los Angeles, with connections there to greater LA. Metrolink stops at the North Beach Station next to Ole Hanson Beach Club on weekdays and also San Clemente Pier on weekends. Bicycles can be taken on Metrolink. Metrolink Orange County Line Timetable.
A beachside trail runs parallel to the railroad tracks from North Beach all the way to Calafia Beach. The multi-use trail makes it convenient for pedestrians and cyclists to move from one part of the beach to another.
San Clemente Beach
Beach and Pier Hours: 4 AM to 12 midnight
Two beach wheelchairs at Marine Safety Headquarters for public use (free of charge). Please call (949) 361-8219 to make reservations (highly recommended).
The Marine Safety Division is staffed from 8 AM to dusk, every day.
The main lifeguard tower on the pier is staffed from 8:20 AM every morning.
Lifeguard towers staffed from 9 or 10 AM until 6 or 7 PM. Staffing and hours are partially based on crown conditions.
The day-use parking area at San Clemente State Beach is atop a rugged bluff overlooking the ocean and beach. A picnic area, restrooms, and a visitor center are located there. Access to the beach from there is via two long trails that follow ravines down through the sandstone cliffs. (see map below) A pedestrian tunnel leads under the railroad tracks.
Parking at the state beach is $15 per day for each vehicle. Alternative access to the beach is at the city run Avenida Calafia parking area to the north. (see the Calafia Parking map, below, right.)
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