San Onofre State Beach is a wonderful place for any van lifer to spend time camping and surfing on the California coast. The park is a 3,000-acre and 3 miles south of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road. The state park is leased to California by the United States Marine Corps.
San Onofre State Beach is one of my favorite beaches to spend the day at as a van or RV nomad. It has beachside parking, restrooms, showers, and trash bins. You will also meet a lot of fellow van and RV nomads here as well.
San Onofre is locally known as “Old Mans” and is one of the most popular surf spots in Southern California. Governor Ronald Reagan established San Onofre State Beach in 1971.
The beach offers surfing, swimming, sunbathing and camping at San Onofre Bluffs. It is a great place for beginners and those learning how to surf. It performs best on a south swell but is good at any swell direction. There are four main surf areas:
- Trestles: This world-famous beach is about a mile north of San Onofre Beach. Trestles is inaccessible by vehicle, so you have to walk, but this is the best surf break in SoCal if you’re a serious surfer. Trestles include Uppers, Lowers, and Middles.
- Churches: Located directly north of San Onofre at the Camp Pendleton Beach Resort. The name refers to the long-gone chapel located near the site.
- Old Man’s: The main surfing location at San Onofre State Beach. The waves are long and gentle and perfect for longboarders and beginners.
- Trails: is the most southern of surf spots in this region and includes both rock bottom and sandy breaks. Trails are also the last point to camp at San Onofre. (Not on Map)
San Onofre Bluffs is located at 5200 S. Pacific Coast Hwy, San Clemente, CA, 92672, and offers camping and day-use parking along Old Highway 101 adjacent to the beautiful sandstone bluffs.
This beach below is popular with swimmers and surfers, with six rugged dirt access trails cut into the bluff above. All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. The campground offers cold outdoor showers and chemical toilets. No RV hookups are available. However, there is an RV dump station.
San Mateo Campground is at 830 Cristianitos, San Clemente, CA, 92672 and is a short distance inland from San Onofre State Beach. A 1.5-mile Nature Trail connects the campground to “Trestles Beach,” the world-class surfing site.
Surfers using redwood boards have visited San Onofre since at least the 1940s; San Mateo Creek flows just east of the campground outward towards the ocean, creating key riparian and wetland habitats that host some rare and even endangered species.
All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. RV Hookup sites are available with electricity and water. Other amenities include a dump station, hot indoor showers, and flush toilets. Camping is available year-round.
This state beach is 3 miles south of the city of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road. San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach are located south of San Clemente on I-5 (Exit Basilone Road). The San Mateo Campground is located on the outer edge of San Clemente; 1 mile inland from I-5 (Exit Cristianitos)