In the entire state of California, you will find only one place where you can drive to the beach, and camp on it. That place is Oceano Dunes south of Pismo Beach in the town of Oceano.
Camping on the beach is an attractive idea and a possible bucket list activity. Before hooking up the RV or taking off with a tent to do that, here are the pros and cons to consider before deciding whether or not it’s for you.
At Oceano Dunes, there are no trees (and therefore no shade), but there is a lot of sand. Maybe too much sand. The best part about staying there is that you will wake up to the ocean at your doorstep. The downside is that your door may have been buried under sand that blows overnight.
Experienced campers will tell you that trying to keep sand out of a beach tent is useless. Even if you take an RV, you will find sand in the strangest places for weeks after your trip.
What facilities are there at Oceano Dunes?
At Oceano Dunes, they have vaults and chemical toilets (potties) but no other amenities. If you don’t have a self-contained RV, it’s a primitive situation.
Holding tank pumping and water delivery services are available on the beach. An RV dump station is on LeSage Drive near the park entrance.
The most popular activity at Oceano Dunes is riding ATVs and ATVs in the dunes, but you can also enjoy any type of recreation on the beach. You can also use this guide to things to do in Pismo Beach to find out what to do when you’re ready to go elsewhere.
What you need to know before going to Oceano Dunes
Don’t get confused and make a reservation at the wrong place. The names are similar, but Oceano Dunes is not the same as the Oceano Campground at Pismo State Beach.
Driving in the sand at Oceano Dunes is recommended for four wheel drive vehicles only.
You can have an RV delivered and set up at your campsite at Oceano Dunes. Luv 2 Camp is the only company authorized to do that.
Camping is allowed on the beach south of Post 2 on the beach and in the open dune area. There are no defined spaces. Vehicle length limit is 40 feet. Tents are also allowed.
Although the sites are not assigned, you need reservations throughout the year at Oceano Dunes. You can do these online or by calling, but you need to do it up to seven months before you want to go and have speed dial reflexes. Here’s how to make reservations at a California state park.
If you don’t have a reservation, try to arrive at 7:00 am to ensure an open space for camping. That might work in the middle of a week off-season, but during busy times of the year, you need a contingency plan. There the guide to camping in Pismo Beach is useful.
Dogs are allowed at Oceano Dunes, but you must bring (and wear) a leash and keep them under control.
A small rug or mat, both outside and inside the door of your tent or RV, can minimize the amount of sand that gets all the way in.
Regular visitors to Oceano Dunes say that you should bring earplugs to block out the noise from vehicles entering and leaving early in the morning.
How to get to the Oceano Dunes campsite
If you are camping in Oceano, use the south entrance on Pier Avenue. Use 200 Pier Avenue in Oceano as your GPS destination.
Get more details on the Ocean Dunes State Park website.