Hidden away at the end of a narrow, winding road and tucked against the huge military enclave of Vandenburg Air Force Base, Jalama Beach is a world apart from the multitude of Southern California beach parks that stretch from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Probably best known for the signature Jalama Burgers the beachside grill cranks out, this Santa Barbara County Park is a relatively undiscovered gem.
Boasting a large campground that can accommodate groups, tents, and RVs of any size, the campground also offers rental cabins, day use areas, showers, a general store with just about anything one could need. This self-contained enclave is like a small village. You'll even find a grill with remarkable food. And that is a good thing, because there is nothing but sparsely-inhabited property between the beach and the nearest town of Lompoc.
The beach itself is wide and flat with scattered rocky sections, and it goes for miles in either direction. In spite of the beach's popularity, it is always possible to get away from people and have the beach to oneself. The surf can be rough here, and the wind can be very strong, but as conditions change the population changes with them. There could be several kite surfers one day and conventional surfers and kayakers another. The bird population is massive, and whales can be easily spotted near the end of Point Conception during the spring migration. There is a stretch of sand dunes between the beach and the campground area, but it is not very wide. Overall this is a remarkably scenic and beautiful stretch of coastline that has a very isolated feel. Dogs are officially supposed to be on leash, but it is easy to walk well away from the immediate day use area and find a stretch of beach to really run.
Besides the potential of being rough and windy at times, the only other negative is the presence of some tar on the beach and the sight of a few oil rigs several miles off shore. Whether the tar is the result of the drilling rigs or, as the locals claim, due to natural seeps that have always been present, the tar is not really a problem, and it is easy to avoid. The campground used to be first-come, first-served only, but a few years ago the county started taking reservations on about half of the sites. Make reservations early to grab a spot on this coastal paradise.