San Onofre State Beach is a 3,000-acre California state park that can be found in the southern part of the state. The park is more specifically situated just south of the coastal city of San Clemente, which puts it approximately halfway between Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south. Established by then Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971, San Onofre State Beach welcomes more than two million visitors each year. It is actually one of the most highly visited state parks in California. Among the things that visitors come to enjoy is the scenic nature of this coastal-canyon park. There are also plenty of activity options, and should a break from the beach be in order, a visit to the nearby Mission of San Juan Capistrano is just one of the many possible side trips that can be added to the mix.
San Onofre State Park
San Onofre State Park Image: AngryJulieMonday (flickr)
San Onofre State Park, or San Onofre State Beach, as it is more commonly known, has three distinct areas. These areas are known as San Onofre Bluffs, San Onofre Surf Beach, and San Mateo Campground. San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach are found further south of San Clemente than San Mateo Campground. These two areas can be accessed by hopping on Interstate 5 and getting off at the Basilone Road exit. San Onofre Campground is situated just on the outer edge of San Clemente, approximately one mile inland. To get there, you can once again use Interstate 5. The exit for San Mateo Campground is Cristianitos. As a side note, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station can be found between San Onfore Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach. It helps provide power to millions of Southern California residents.
San Onofre Beach
San Onofre Surfing Image: digitizedchaos (flickr)
San Onofre State Beach offers 3.5 miles of sandy beaches. These beaches extend along the Pacific Ocean waters in the San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach areas. Since the San Mateo Campground area is found inland, it lacks beaches. There is a 1.5-mile nature trail that links San Mateo Campground to the world class San Onofre surfing site of Trestles Beach, however. More surfing sites await at San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach. San Onofre Surf Beach actually offers a surf break that is both world-renowned and historical. While San Onofre Bluffs has campsites, San Onofre Surf Beach is strictly a day-use area. Parking is available within proximity of the sand at both areas. Parking fees apply. It should be noted that alcohol is no longer permitted at San Onofre Surf Beach.
San Onofre Camping
San Onofre Camping Image: awnisALAN (flickr)
As mentioned, there are campsites in the San Onofre Bluffs area of San Onofre State Beach. All of these campsites feature a picnic table and a fire pit. Campers can also make use of the available chemical toilets, the cold outdoor showers, and the dump station. No hookups are available at San Onofre Bluffs. Hookups are available at San Mateo Campground, however. Once again, the campsites in this part of the park have picnic tables and fire pits. Other amenities at San Onofre Campground include hot indoor showers, flush toilets, and a dump station. Camping is available year-round at San Onofre Campground. As a side note, while the San Onofre Surf Beach area of the park lacks campsites, it does have chemical toilets and a limited number of fire pits.
Hotels Near San Onofre
Hotels Near San Onofre
Renting a campsite isn’t the only lodging option for people who are visiting the San Onofre area. Hotels can be found near the park, with San Clemente being the most obvious place to begin an area lodging search. The San Clemente hotels include numerous chain-brand lodging establishments. Examples of such hotels include the Holiday Inn Express San Clemente North, the Holiday Inn San Clemente (pictured), and the Hampton Inn and Suites San Clemente. Complementing the San Clemente chain brand hotels are a number of other lodging establishments, such as the Casa Tropicana Inn, the Hotel Miramar, and the Beachcomber Motel. Many of the San Clemente hotels and motels offer fantastic ocean views. Better yet, the overall prices and quality of the San Clemente hotels are quite favorable.
Top image: advencap (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0