San Mateo Campground is one of two campgrounds in San Onofre State Beach. It is situated 3.5 miles northwest of San Onofre Surf Beach, which is famous worldwide for its excellent surfing conditions. The proximity means that San Mateo is an excellent choice for anyone coming from out of town to check out the surf breaks. While the campground located at the San Onofre Bluffs is a bit closer to the beach, it does not have as much to offer as San Mateo. Perhaps the most prominent difference is the fact that San Mateo has warm showers located in a building, while the campground at the Bluffs only has cold outdoor showers. After a long day of surfing, a warm shower seems worth the slightly longer walk.
When you arrive at your campsite you will find a picnic table and a fire pit. There are nearby hookup sites in case you need water or electricity. The bathrooms feature flush toilets, and there is a dump station. If you need firewood, bundles are available for $6. You will have to pay a $15 Day Fee in addition to the price of your campsite.
Once you are settled into your campsite, you will likely want to hit the beach. Follow the Panhe Nature Trail for 1.5 miles until you reach the sand. Whether you are surfing, sunbathing, swimming, or snorkeling, keep an eye out for San Onofre State Beach’s numerous resident threatened and endangered species. These include the San Diego fairy shrimp, steelhead trout, southwestern willow flycatcher, and arroyo toad. The fact that these delicate creatures are able to survive in an area that sees two and a half million visitors annually is a testament to the respect this land is shown.