These Santa Barbara beach campgrounds include Refugio State Beach, El Capitan State Beach, Gaviota State Park, Carpinteria State Beach and El Capitan Canyon. Santa Barbara beaches are beautiful; you've got the mountains at your back and the blue Pacific spread out before you. The weather is almost always perfect. Read on for descriptions of each campground so you can decide where to spend your next beach camping vacation!
All of these campgrounds are in Santa Barbara County. Four are north of the town of Santa Barbara California, while Carpinteria State Beach is to the south. The map below will show their relative locations, while the campground photos will give you an idea of the surroundings.
The state beaches and parks accept online reservations through reserveamerica.com, or you can call 805-968-1033.
The farthest north of the Santa Barbara beach campgrounds is at Gaviota State Park. It's about half an hour's drive up the coast from Santa Barbara on the 101 freeway. It's located just near Gaviota Pass, where Highway One leaves the coast and turns inland. As a result from being near the pass, it can get very windy.
There are about 5 and a half miles of beach, including a fishing pier, which has a boat launch. Activities include surfing, surf fishing, swimming, scuba diving, hiking and picnicking.
The beach has some really beautiful rock formations. The train tracks are high on a bridge overhead.
There are 39 RV and tent sites. No drinking water or hookups.
The campground at Gaviota State Park is located 33 miles west of Santa Barbara on Gaviota Beach Road.
Another Santa Barbara beach campground is Refugio State Beach. It's a lovely location, flat and lined with palm trees. A bike trail
runs from this beach down to El Capitan State Beach. You can picnic,
fish, hike, swim and bike.
There are 85 sites, plus more for self contained RVs. No hookups.
Refugio State Beach campground is found at 10 Refugio Road in Goleta, about 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.
El Capitan is my favorite of Santa Barbara beach campgrounds, probably because I have great memories of camping there with my family as a kid.
There are plenty of trees in the campsite area, and the beach is just down the path from the bluffs. A hiking and bike trail leads 3 miles west to Refugio State Beach. The beach is sandy, but there are also tide pools to explore. You can swim, surf, fish or picnic.
133 RV and tent sites
El Capitan State Beach is located 17 miles west of Santa Barbara California, off of Highway 101 at the El Capitan State Beach exit.
Not to be confused with El Capitan State Beach campground, El Capitan Canyon campground is located on the other side of Highway 101, up the canyon. You can still walk or drive down to the beach. A nearby llama farm can be visited as well.
This campground bills itself as a luxury camping experience. The sites are in amongst the oak and sycamore trees in the canyon. You can stay in a cabin or safari tent. It's a bit pricey, but also more comfortable than regular tent camping. There is a pretty nice store with a snack bar that has inside and outside seating.
Check rates and reviews for El Capitan Canyon
Safari tents have a queen bed, chest of drawers and a persian rug. Cabins have various sizes available, including sleeping lofts, kitchens and bathrooms. Also fireplaces, but no air conditioning.
El Capitan Canyon campground is located about 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara California. Exit El Capitan State Beach Road and turn inland. Shuttle service is available from Santa Barbara train station or airport. For more info, call 866-352-2729.
About halfway between Santa Barbara and Ventura is Carpinteria California, a cute little beach town where the village is within walking distance of the campground. As Santa Barbara beach campgrounds go, this one has the best location if you like to be able to walk to shops and restaurants.
This campground has a sandy beach, tide pools to explore, and interesting tar oozing from the rocks (watch your feet--it's hard to get off!) Also, there are plenty of shady trees. Some camping sites are grassy, others are sandy. There is a small dune between the campground and the beach. The train tracks run along behind the campground.
Activities include swimming, fishing, clamming, tidepooling and biking. There's a beach trail to the Harbor Seal Preserve that is approximately 2.5 miles round trip.
Carpinteria campground is actually divided into 4 sections, named after the Channel Islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. Anacapa and Santa Cruz is the only area for tents, and if you want to have a beachfront campsite, request Santa Cruz. If you have an RV and want to be facing the beach, request Santa Rosa or San Miguel.
203 sites: mix of RV, tent, group
Carpinteria State Beach is located twelve miles to the south of Santa Barbara California, off Highway 101. To get there, get off the 101 at Casitas Pass Exit and head towards the beach. Turn right on Carpinteria Ave., then left on Palm Avenue and head for the beach.
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