San Clemente State Beach Camping

What You Need to Know About San Clemente Beach Before You Go

View from San Clemente State Beach
View from San Clemente State Beach. Ken Ratcliff/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

San Clemente State Beach is in southern Orange County, a location known for its scenery and ocean views. The beach is about a mile long, at the foot of a steep bluff. In this oceanside state park, you can enjoy all kinds of water sports including swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, bodysurfing and snorkeling. Fishermen catch bass, croaker, corbina and barred perch in the surf.

The campground has hot showers and flush toilets. Showers are timed, operated with a token you buy from a nearby machine. They also have outdoor showers for a quick cleanup after a day of playing in the sand.

You won't find a lot of fancy amenities at San Clemente like swimming pools, hot tubs and camp stores. Sites are level and partly paved, but there is no grass - just wood chips and dirt. 

San Clemente State Beach Campsites

If you would like to stay at San Clemente but don't like tent camping or if you don't own an RV, try Luv2Camp. They're a local company that delivers and sets up a fully-stocked RV at your campsite. All you have to bring are bedding, towels, and food.

San Clemente State Beach has 144 campsites. Some of them are RV sites that can accommodate trailers and campers/motorhomes up to 42 feet long. Some sites are pull-through, but others require you to back in. They have water and electrical hookups and a dump station.

San Clemente has seven campsites that are accessible. The restrooms and some trails are also accessible. However, you might need assistance to get up and down the stairs that go to the beach.

This is one place where tent campers get the advantage: tent sites 82, 83, 85, 88 and 89 are near the edge of the campground and have the best views of the ocean. RV sites are inland a little and don't have such nice views.

If you're looking for a site with more shade, they are close to the restrooms.

For a quieter camping experience, people who have camped at San Clemente suggest getting a site as far west (away from the freeway) as you can.

If you want to get a look at all of the sites at San Clemente, try this interactive map. It has a photo of every site and its number. You can also use Google maps' street view to take a virtual drive through it.

When you're ready to make your reservation, you might feel like your head is going explode as you try to understand the complicated system and figure out when campsites will be available to reserve, but don't let that happen to you. Instead, use the guide to California state parks reservations

What You Need to Know Before You Go to San Clemente

Dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on leashes no longer than 6 feet. And you have to keep them in your tent or an enclosed vehicle at night. They are not allowed in park buildings. Only service animals can go on trails and beaches.

You can have alcoholic beverages in your campsite, but not anywhere else in the park. Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., but you can run your generator until 8 p.m. Fires are allowed at the campsites, but not on the beach. You can buy firewood at the camp kiosk.

You can have a campfire at your site, but not on the beach. If you want to do that, take care with your wood to keep invasive species from spreading, including some that could eventually destroy the vegetation around the campground. For a firewood finder, visit the California Firewood Taskforce website.

The entrance gate is locked at night. If you plan to arrive late or leave very early, contact them to make arrangements ahead of time

One downside to the beach's location is the train tracks that run between the campground and the beach. Some people think it's a scenic addition to the ambiance, but it can be noisy. Camp Pendleton military base is also nearby, and you can sometimes hear their artillery practice. You may also hear freeway noise at night from Interstate Highway 5 which is not far away. If you are sensitive to noise, you may want to add earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to your packing list.

How to Get to San Clemente

San Clemente State Beach is at 225W. Calafia Ave in San Clemente, CA. You can
find more information on their website

Check out Doheny State Beach Camping.