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A Pismo Beach Camping Guide

Raksha Kulkarni
Imagine getting up and finding sea waves just outside your door. Spectacular, right? That's what you can experience at Pismo Beach. There is only one beach in whole California, where you can drive up to the beach and camp on it. And that is at Pismo. Here's a detailed guide on how to plan, book, and enjoy this trip.
This California’s Central Coast city is famous for its breathtaking beaches. The beach is divided in two sides: one is a normal sandy beach part which turns into sand dunes after a point; and the other is rocky cliffs.

How to Get There?

Oceano airport is the closest airport. Just get off the plane and you can reach the beach in a few minutes.

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Welcome to Pismo!

Plan Beforehand!

You can make reservations online or by calling them. It is recommended to book slot 6 months prior or at least 48 hours before your date. The reservations open at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time. It is quite impossible to get a space without prior reservation, unless it’s off-season or a mid-week day. Even in that situation, you need to reach there before 7:00 a.m.
There are two camping options at Pismo. One is Oceano Dunes and the other is Oceano Campground.
Oceano Dunes is the actual beach part where you can camp on the beach and the Campground area is a huge grassy area which has direct beach access. Both have numerous sites for camping.

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Pismo Beach

Taking a 4-wheeler is recommended on the beach. The vehicle length limit is 40 feet per campsite. If you don't have one, Luv 2 Camp is an authorized company that can help you rent an RV, and assist you in setting up your campsite. RV is the best option and recommended.
Tents can also be set up but not recommended as there is heavy blowing sand during nights.

Facilities Available

There are a few services that are available right on the beach. They are:
  • Water delivery services
  • Holding tank dump station
  • Chemical toilets and showering facility
  • Vault services

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Parking at the Campground

Campground Highlights

  • You’ll find firewood and even ice for sale in the park itself.
  • Also, there are around 4 restaurants in close vicinity, if you're not in the cooking mood. You may find good wi-fi there.
  • There’s a beautiful monarch butterfly preserve in the center of the park. You can enjoy this beautiful site in the months of November to February.

Rules and Instructions

  • This place has more than 100 campsites. A camper up to 36 feet long or a trailer up to 31 feet long can easily fit in a single site.
  • If you wish to get more than 1 vehicle per campsite, an extra fee has to be paid. Also, more than 3 vehicles per site is not allowed in any case.
  • 8 is the maximum number of people (including children) for a single campsite.
Dogs are allowed on this beach but they have to be on leash (not more than six feet) and controlled at all times. Also, they must be inside your tent or vehicle at night.
Campfires here should not be more than three feet in diameter and should be made with wood only, not metal or toxic material.

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The Beautiful & Green Campground

A Few Tips!

  • It is recommended you keep a mat both inside and outside the door of your RV. This will reduce the amount of sand coming in.
  • Most visitors feel you should keep earplugs with you to keep away the noise of numerous vehicles commuting.
  • Bring mosquito repellent. You’ll need it.
  • Carry quarters with you which will be useful for showers and restrooms there.

Follow the Trails!

There are wonderful trails that you can also try while you’re at Pismo Beach. Some of them are:
  • Black Lake Trail
  • Chumash Park Trail
  • Pismo Preserve Trail
  • Monarch Butterfly Grove Trail

Local Attractions

  • Visit the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art which is one of the best art museums in the whole country.
  • Avila hot springs is a beautiful place for relaxation. You can opt for a pass for few hours, a day, or book cabinets for overnight stay.
  • If you’re planning to go there in October, there is Pismo Beach clam festival for three days, which attracts a huge crowd.

Something for the Kids!

You can also let your kids attend campfire programs and Jr. Rangers program.
Campfire programs are fun and they teach about wildlife and culture. This is for children of all ages. JR Rangers is a program for 7-12 year olds. This program consists of actual hands-on experience of organizing park resources. They even get a logbook and a badge.
At Pismo, you get to choose from a variety of activities such as surfing, walking through beautiful trails, swimming, fishing, and most importantly-relaxing. So, what are you waiting for? Confirm the dates and start packing!