June 25, 2024
beach camping san diego

Beach Camping San Diego Near Surf Breaks

Surfing in San Diego is fun. But what if you could camp under the stars only to wake up next to a surf break? That’s what beach camping San Diego is all about!

In this post, I am going to share all of the beach camping sites in San Diego where it is possible to surf. I’ll tell you exactly where they are, how to book a campsite and which ones are my favorite.

What Classifies as a Surfing Campsite in San Diego?

To begin let’s classify what beach camping in San Diego actually means.

You have two types of beach camping. Firstly, you have beach camping on a bay, inlet, river, or even a lake. A great example of this type of beach camping in San Diego is Campland on the Bay in Mission Bay. While it’s fun with bonfires and swimming in the bay – you can’t surf.

The second type of beach camping in San Diego is the type of camping is when you actually camp out next to the open ocean and a surf break is only steps away. In my opinion, you absolutely cannot beat sleeping under the stars only to wake up to a peeling wave in sight.

Read on for all of the places where it’s possible to camp AND surf in San Diego!

Beach Camping San Diego Campsite Guide

In this section, I will summarize all of the places it is possible for beach camping in San Diego.  

Leading off are all of the surfing campsites in San Diego.

San Elijo State Beach (Encinitas)

San Elijo State Beach is likely the most popular surfing campsite in San Diego. For good reason too. It’s centrally located near a plethora of excellent Encinitas surf breaks and some delicious, walkable food options. Surf breaks include the popular breaks of San Elijo, like Pipes on the North side of the campground and Cardiff Reef on the South side of the campground. After surfing, simply walk across the street to grab food at the local Seaside Market.

Use this pin to find San Elijo State Beach campground.

surfing campsites san diego
San Elijo State Beach Campground overlooking the Pacific Ocean

In summary, you can’t go wrong booking a campsite at San Elijo. This campground caters to both tent camping and RVs. Annually, they even host the Camp Shred event where you can demo just about any brand’s board.

South Carlsbad State Beach

Next up, we have South Carlsbad State Beach. This San Diego surfing campsite is also in North County; about 15 minutes North of San Elijo.

South Carlsbad State Beach also offers ocean front camping like San Elijo, with campsites lining the bluffs of the coastline. The views are great. Overall, it’s a bit quieter in this area other than a sometimes-bustling campsite. For one, there are not options to eat directly across the street. This is more of a residential area.

surfing campsites san diego
Waves in front of South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

On the plus side, the surf breaks in front of the campsite on South Carlsbad State Beach are less crowded. Typically, only campers surf the beach breaks spread along this quiet coastline. The North and South ends of the campsite are where the crowds pick up. Coincidentally, the surfing found at either end is also better than in the middle. While a further walk, they are worth it. The South end especially is, as Ponto Jetties is a premiere wave.

Use this pin to find South Carlsbad State Beach. The campsite is RV and tent friendly.

Local Tip: Carlsbad State Beach has a North Side and South Side of the campground. Additionally, there are two rows of campsites. One is oceanfront while the other is set back closer to the Coast Highway. Sites 1-50 on the North side are all oceanfront and are beautiful.

Silver Strand State Beach (Coronado)

The next surfing campsite in San Diego takes us South to Silver Strand State Beach. Silver Strand is on Coronado Island at these coordinates.

While the main part of Coronado Island is tourist trap, the beaches are beautiful, and this campsite is more secluded. Not to mention, Silver Strand is on my list for uncrowded surf spots in San Diego. While the waves are usually average, surfing with a smaller crowd is always desirable.

In terms of the campsite, it’s important to note that this site is for RVs only.

San Onofre State Beach

Technically, San Onofre is still part of San Diego county. Although, most people are not aware of this. As such, I am including it in my list for surfing campsites in San Diego.

When most people think of San O, they think of Trestles. Yes, Trestles is a premiere wave but it’s also heavily crowded. Fortunately, San Onofre State Beach campgrounds are a few miles South of Trestles. Here, the waves are still good and far less crowded.

beach camping san diego
Enjoying beach camping in San Diego @ San Onofre

This campsite is perched on a bluff with beautiful ocean views. It’s a short scramble down the bluffs in order to reach the waves. At this campground, they allow both RV and tent camping.

Overall, San Onofre State Beach campground is the key to surfing this region without the crowds of Trestles.

Campland on the Bay

Finally, we have Campland on the Bay in Mission Bay. Now, this is simply beach camping in San Diego without the surf.

So, if you are happy grilling, chilling, and swimming on the bay – you will have a great time here. It’s an excellent campground that caters to both RVs and tent camping. In my opinion, this is actually a great campsite for the family. However, choose one of the campsites above if you also crave waves while beach camping in San Diego.

camp and surf california
Enjoying the beach at Campland on the Bay

RV Parks by the Beach in San Diego

If you are looking for something more beyond beach camping in San Diego, there is an excellent RV park by the beach in Oceanside. It’s called Paradise by the Sea and is located at 1537 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054. Here, you will find over 90 pull through RV sites with electricity, water and sewage hookups. There are many good nearby surf spots such as Oceanside Harbor.

To learn more about this RV Park and other top RV parks in the USA, check this list.

How Far in Advance to Book a Beach Campsite in San Diego?

Campsites in San Diego are available to book on Reserve California. Their booking website will allow you to reserve a campsite up to six months in advance. Oftentimes, if you are hoping to reserve one of these campsites during a weekend; you need to book it 6 months in advance to the day. New dates become available for booking online at 7am Pacific Standard Time. Prices per night range from $50-$75.

Local Tip: Booking weekends is difficult. As such, I suggest trying to book your campsite beginning on a Wednesday or Thursday night and then adding on the additional weekend days. You will have to pay for the additional nights but it will help ensure you are able to reserve a campsite for the weekend.

If you don’t plan to stay at one of these campsites during the weekend, you can usually find an available site one or two months in advance.

Camp and Surf San Diego Conclusion

In conclusion, there is great beach camping in San Diego. Fortunately, some of the best beach camping in San Diego also offers a view of the ocean and a wave to surf. Don’t forget to pack your beach camping gear!! The Coleman tent is a great and affordable tent for two.

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03/11/2024 04:13 pm GMT

More gear recommendations here.

Enjoy your time beach camping in San Diego and I hope that you catch a few good waves! Find other San Diego Surf Spot reviews and subscribe below to stay up to date on the best surf in San Diego!


  • Gavin Bechtold

    Gavin has been living and surfing in San Diego for over a decade. He loves the ocean and is lucky to call San Diego home. Frustrated with mainstream reviews, he set out to create the best source of surf reviews for San Diego beaches. Check the About page for more info!