Located in southwestern Orange County, there are three San Clemente beach camping spots to choose from; Bluffs Campground and San Mateo Campground, (which are both at San Onofre State Beach), and the San Clemente State Beach Campground.
This campground is located at the southern end of San Clemente California at 225 Avenida Calafia. San Clemente State Beach is a mile long and is set below tall, scenic bluffs overlooking the blue Pacific.
There are hiking trails along the picnic areas and sandstone bluffs above the beach. There is also a self guided nature trail. Unfortunately, at the north end, the bluffs are sometimes closed due to erosion.
Surfers take to the waves at the north end of the beach, while swimmers, body surfers and skin divers enjoy the rest. Other activities include fishing, body boarding and snorkeling.
Camping is on the bluff. Trails lead down to the beach below. There is an historic 1934 cottage housing a visitors center. Inside are exhibits on local wildlife, marine life and history of the park. The railroad tracks run through.
The San Clemente campground also features campfire programs, junior ranger programs and nature walks.
There are 157 RV/tent sites on the bluffs 150 feet above the sand. You can also camp with tents in the spots that have RV hookups. The sites without hookups have a shade ramada.
For those who just can’t bear to get away from it all, San Clemente State Beach now has Wi-Fi internet service.
To get to the state beach and campground, take the I-5 freeway south and get off at Calafia at the southern end of town. Head towards the ocean and watch for the park's entrance on your left.
If you are headed north on the I-5, get off at Cristianitos and head back across the freeway towards the ocean. Go right on Ave. del Presidente and left on Calafia.
They are open year round. The campground’s phone number is 949-492-3156.
Other options for San Clemente beach camping are 3 and a half miles south at San Onofre State Beach. This beach actually has two campgrounds: San Mateo campground and Bluffs Campground. Within the park is also the Surfing Beach. This beach is famously popular with surfers and is for day use only.
This San Clemente Beach camping spot is on the other side of the double domed nuclear power plant, along Old Highway 101. The parking lot seems to go on forever along the bluffs. Along the way are six trails with great views which lead through the bluffs and on down to the beach below. It isn't visible from the parking or camping spaces. Signs proclaim no nudity or alcohol allowed.
The campsites themselves are up on the bluffs. There are also tent spaces at the Echo Arch walk-in camp, on a terrace between the beach and the bluffs, but it is closed in winter, or when the cliffs are eroding too much.
Activities include swimming, surfing, fishing and hiking. Open all year.
To get to the Bluffs Campground, take the Basilone Road exit and follow it for about 3 miles until it ends and the campground entrance. The address is 3030 Avenida Del Presidente. Call 949-492-4872.
San Mateo Campground is newer and has more amenities for the camper. Though it is also considered part of San Onofre State Beach, this campground is located inland, in a very nice valley setting with lots of trees. A 1 1/2 mile nature trail leads to Trestles Beach, (famous for the surfing), or you can drive. San Mateo Creek flows through here, providing a habitat for much wildlife.
There is a self-guided nature trail and another trail leads to nearby Trestles Beach, popular with surfers.
San Mateo Campground is open year round. To get there, get off the I-5 at Christianitos in San Clemente and follow it for a mile inland. The entrance will be on your right. Call 800-444-7275.
To reserve any of these San Clemente beach camping spots, you can call the numbers listed or book it online at www.parks.ca.gov,Home > Other So Cal Beach Campgrounds > San Clemente Campgrounds
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