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San Onofre State Beach

San Diego Metro Area, California

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San Onofre State Beach

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  • San Onofre State Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • View north, San Onofre State Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • View south, San Onofre State Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • Surfers and seabirds enjoying the mellow reefs of San Onofre State Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • Shaded picnic areas at San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • Palapas and beach volleyball courts at San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • Looking up the point towards Church surf break.- San Onofre State Beach
  • The San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station sits behind San Onofre Surf Beach.- San Onofre State Beach
  • Trestles, further north than San Onofre Surf Beach, is a walk-in section of San Onofre State Beach with world-class surf breaks.- San Onofre State Beach
  • San Onofre Bluffs section of the park offer day use and camping.- San Onofre State Beach
  • One of many beach trails leading down from the bluffs.- San Onofre State Beach
  • More day use and camping options along the bluffs.- San Onofre State Beach
  • More day use and camping options along the bluffs.- San Onofre State Beach
  • - San Onofre State Beach
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Multiple surf breaks. Family friendly. Camping.
Cons: 
Nuclear power plant nearby.
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Region:
San Diego Metro Area, CA
Congestion: 
High
Location type: 
Sandy beach
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

In 1971 California State Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing this beach, and since then it has gone on to become one of the most frequently visited beaches in California. Today 2.5 million people visit San Onofre State Beach annually. This location is also sacred to the Acjachemen Indians, who have more than 8,000 years of history with the land. Back then it was called Panhe, and it contained both a burial site and a village. In the 18th century, Catholic missionaries arrived here and performed California’s first recorded baptism. 

Visitors from out of town frequent the San Mateo Campground. Both locals and tourists love lounging on the beach and staying overnight at the base of the San Onofre Bluffs. The campground boasts cold showers, picnic tables, fire pits, a dump station for RVs, and chemical toilets. Perhaps the most beloved part of the beach is the San Onofre Surf Beach. It is known worldwide as a prime surfing location. The three main surf breaks are called “Dogpatch,” “Old Man’s,” and “The Point.”

Surfing in this area began in the 1920s. There were just a handful of surfers at that time, but within a decade people began flooding in from near and far. Visitors were so excited about the sport that they spent night after night sleeping on the beach so that they could head out again first thing in the morning. These enthusiasts affectionately referred to San Onofre State Beach as “Nofre.” In the 1940s, nearly all of the surfers left to fight in World War II. The beach itself was used by the military as a base, and therefore it was closed to the public. After the war ended people began sneaking onto the beach to surf, and this was generally accepted by military personnel. By 1951 the beach had changed hands, and it now belonged to the San Onofre Surfing Club. Today the State of California works with the San Onofre Surfing Club to maintain the beach.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(22 within a 30 mile radius)

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