Beach Camping San Diego: 8 Best Campgrounds for Great Relaxation

Camping is the best way to get away and recuperate. Some people go into the woods, but nothing beats beach camping. On the beach, you have open space to do whatever you want, and you can always go for a dip. And “Beach camping San Diego” is a must try. This means exploring the best campground in San Diego.

If you’re going beach camping, San Diego is the place to be. The city has over 70 miles of shoreline with tons of beaches. You can take your family and pets on a family-friendly vacation or hit the place with your friends. But you’ll need suggestions on where to go. 

Two people and a dog at a picnic table n a beach camping san diego. RV Lifestyle Experts

Campgrounds for Beach Camping in San Diego

We anticipated that and compiled a list of the best beach campgrounds near San Diego. These campgrounds have all the facilities you’ll need to be comfortable. So without further ado, here we go! 

1. South Carlsbad State Beach

Just a half hour away from San Diego, the South Carlsbad State Beach campground offers stunning views of the Pacific. Boasting 223 campsites, it’s by far the biggest place to camp by the beach near San Diego, making it easy for you to get away and enjoy nature!

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, these campsites are definitely the place to be! They aren’t easy to come by, though; they fill up pretty quickly, so it’s best to reserve a spot or show up in the offseason if you can. If you move around in an RV, you’re in luck; there are 13 full hookups waiting for you. Have fun out there!

While you’re here, why not take a dip? You can also go fishing, snorkeling, or surfing if that’s your thing. There are showers, a market with all the basics, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Pets can come, but they must be leashed.


  • 223 campsites
  • Tent or RV
  • Showers
  • Flush Toilets

2. Silver Strand State Beach

Situated on Conrado Island, Silver Strand State Beach has over a hundred campsites. But there’s a catch. The campground only allows camping if you have a self-contained vehicle. So, at least you’ll get something with a built-in sink, drainage system, and flushable toilet.

The campground offers views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. While here, you can go swimming, hiking, biking, surfing, and fishing. The campsites have fire rings and full electric hookups. You can also use the on-site restrooms and the dump station. 


  • 100+ campsites
  • RV only 
  • Restrooms
  • Dump station

3. San Elijo State Beach

Drive to Cardiff, and you’ll find this state beach campground on the San Diego Coast. The campground has 171 campsites. You take the traditional route and pitch a tent. You can also bring in an RV. 

The campground at San Elijo State Beach offers several daily activities, including fishing, scuba diving, swimming, and surfing. If you want to learn more about the park, you can swing by the Visitor Center. The center has exhibits and family programs to keep you busy. 

On-site amenities include full RV hookups, picnic areas, showers, drinking water, and more. The park allows pets, but you have to keep the leash on. 


  • 171 campsites
  • Tent or RV spaces
  • Picnic tables
  • Pet-friendly

4. San Mateo Campground

If you want to go beach camping near San Diego, the San Mateo campground is as good a place as any. The campground is just 3.5 miles from San Onofre State Beach and has 157 campsites.  

Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. If you’re going in an RV, you can stay at sites with RV hookups. The campground has a dump station for your RVs, indoor showers, and toilets. 

While you’re at the beach, you can go swimming or lounge on the beach. There are trails near the campground. You can hike those to Trestles Beach. Some of the campsites are wheelchair-accessible. If you go to the state park, you can visit the Visitors Center to see what they offer. 


  • 157 campsites
  • Picnic tables 
  • Dump station

5. San Onofre Bluffs Campground

If you want to go beach camping in San Diego for some peace, San Onofre Bluffs Campground is your kind of place. The site is undeveloped. It won’t be as crowded as the other campgrounds. You can camp here from May to October. 

The campground has seven trails, and each is a quarter-mile long. You can use these trails to reach the beach. You can go for traditional tent camping or RV camping. The campground has 175 campsites. These campsites have fire rings, picnic tables, and electric hookups. 

You can use the restrooms and toilets. Plus, you can take your pets with you. While there, you can go swimming, surfing, or biking. You can also watch the wildlife. The campground is small, only three to four miles long. So keep in mind that space may be limited. 


  • 175 campsites
  • Fire rings
  • Pet-friendly 

6. Kumeyaay Lake Campground

The Kumeyaay Lake Campground is in Mission Trails Regional Park. So you won’t really get the ocean views, but you have more things to enjoy. You can stay by Lake Murray, and later, you can go rock climbing, hiking, or mountain biking. 

Kumeyaay Lake Campground has 46 campsites. These sites include tent sites and vehicle sites. The sites have picnic tables and cooking sites. You can use the restrooms to freshen up. 

The camping sites are only available on Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations open six months in advance. The campground allows pets, but you have to supervise them at all times. 


  • 46 campsites
  • Picnic tables 
  • Restrooms 

7. Campland on the Bay

Campland on the Bay is a private resort in San Diego. It has 562 campsites, so there is a lot of variety when it comes to choosing a campsite. You can choose from beachfront, bay view, distinguished, preferred, select, standard east, standard west, marina, and dry RV sites. 

Tent campers can opt for Limited or Primitive sites. On-site amenities include full RV hookups, fire pits, grill tops, picnic tables, restrooms, and more. The Supersite has a private bathroom, shower, hot tub, outdoor BBQ, and laundry. 

The resort offers watersports, including water skiing, sailing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. You can keep a house pet with you after getting approval from the management. 


  • 562 campsites
  • RV or tent spaces
  • pet-friendly

8. Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve

The Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve campground has over 300 campsites. All the campsites have full RV hookups. If you don’t have an RV, you can rent one from RV Rental San Diego. All campsites have Wi-Fi. If you want cable TV, you can reserve the deluxe sites. 

Other amenities include restrooms, showers, laundry, a clubhouse, and two swimming pools. There’s an off-leash area for your pets. You can enjoy fishing in the lakes. The campground also offers activities for the kids. 


  • 300 campsites
  • RV sites
  • Wi-Fi

Safety Considerations During Beach Camping San Diego

Safety AspectConsideration
Fire SafetyKeep campfires smallKeep fires at a safe distance from tents/clothingExtinguish fires completely
Wildlife EncountersUnderstand the behaviors of local wildlifeStore food properly to avoid attracting animals
Water SafetyWear life jackets during water activitiesAvoid drinking alcohol near water bodies
Weather SafetyStay abreast of weather forecastsBe prepared for changing weatherSeek sturdy shelter in the event of adverse conditions
Campsite SecurityLock valuables in a secure placeBeware of strangersReport suspicious activity to campsite authorities

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I camp at the actual beach in San Diego?

No, you can’t camp on the actual beaches, as the authorities prohibit that. If you want to camp overnight, you have to go to the dedicated campgrounds. These campgrounds fill up quickly, so reserve a campsite before you go there. 

  1. Do beaches close down at night in San Diego?

It depends on the beach. Some beaches have park closure times, while others have full-on curfews. You can check the timing online before you go to the beach. Usually, curfews mean that the beaches are closed to both vehicles and pedestrians. 

  1. Can I camp on any beach in San Diego?

No, authorities limit camping to a few areas in and around San Diego. These areas are usually state beaches, private campgrounds, or resorts. Again, you should reserve the campsite beforehand, or they may turn you away. Additionally, read up on the details because some campgrounds only allow RVs. 

  1. What’s the maximum period for staying at a campground?

If you’re going camping, San Diego state campgrounds (and every other region) prohibit indefinite stays. The maximum stay period depends on the individual park, but fourteen days should be the rough limit. Some places will go so far as to allow you to stay for 28 days. 

  1. What’s the best time for beach camping in San Diego?

Summer seems to be the most popular time for beach camping near San Diego. During this time, the campgrounds are usually full. Sometimes people have to reserve their sites seven months in advance. If that’s not your thing, visit in the off-season months. Still, be sure to call ahead and check the park’s conditions.


Beach camping in San Diego can be a little difficult because you have to find the right campground and reserve your place. But the result is worth it. You get to relax in nature with phenomenal views of the beach. Choose a campground from our list and get ready to have a great time at the beach!

Eddie Meyers

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