San Clemente, CA
Basilone Road exit off Interstate 5
Day Use Parking: $15
Day Use Hours:
6 AM to 10 PM
Surf Beach closes at 8 PM during Standard Time, Bluffs closes at sunset.
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
San Onofre Beach attracts surfers, swimmers, sun bathers, kayakers, cyclists, nature lovers, campers. It draws nearly 2½ million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular of California's beaches.
The state beach includes the main Surf Beach, the San Onofre Bluffs area with camping and beach access, and the San Mateo Campground. Coastal sections of the state beach leap-frog past the Camp Pendleton Beach Club and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (shut down in 2013), both off limits to the public.
The main parking lot for San Onofre State Beach is 3 miles south of San Clemente off Interstate 5 via Basilone Road. After exiting on Basilone, head south on old Pacific Coast Highway to Beach Club Road. Parking is $15 per vehicle. The lot is located on the sandstone bluffs overlooking the ocean.
To the south beyond the power plant, parking is available along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in the area known as the Bluffs. Steep trails lead down to the beach. Trails, actually a number of locations along this section of the coast, are popular surfing areas.
To access the Trestles surfing area, some visitors park outside the state beach around Cristianitos Road and then head down the trail to the beach. Others park in the main state beach parking lot and walk up the coast to Trestles. For those camped at San Mateo Campground, a 1½-mile trail leads down to the beach.
At the main Surf Beach visitors will find chemical toilets, outdoor showers, volleyball courts, and a limited number of fire pits. Trails lead down to the beach. Surfers gather at The Point and Old Man's, two of the most popular surfing destinations along the coast.
Restrooms are also found at the San Mateo campground and the San Onofre Bluffs Campground.
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