Pismo Beach State Beach

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About Pismo Beach State Beach

Pismo State Beach stretches across 17 miles of California coast replete with plenty of caves, bluffs and dunes for exploring. Visitors here can entertain themselves with sea kayaking, caving, clamming, wildlife watching, camping, hiking, biking and much more. Making the park even more special than the average slice of California coast (which let’s be real, is already pretty special), is the Monarch Grove. In the winter, this grove hosts tons of migrating monarch butterflies and makes for a great attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Campgrounds in Pismo Beach

Oceano Campground

1. Oceano Campground

Oceano Campground boasts 42 campsites, all with direct beach access. Even with this über convenient beach proximity, the campsites are protected...

Ian: Apple maps will take you about 30 minutes out of your way so stick to Google. Not very private, but lots of room to spread out....
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North Beach Campground

2. North Beach Campground

North Beach Campground at Pismo Beach has 103 campsites with pay showers, dump sites, restrooms and fire rings. The campsites are located in a...

Kymberly: Campground isn't that great - just a big open area. Too crowded to be my style. But the dunes behind the campground, the...
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9 Reviews

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Drop some Pismo Beach knowledge on us.
Hipcamper Ian

Apple maps will take you about 30 minutes out of your way so stick to Google. Not very private, but lots of room to spread out. Definitely worth checking out, especially for the price.

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Hipcamper A

The Shell Beach gazebo is the ideal spot for a picnic (bonus: you can watch seals from here).

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Hipcamper A

You can drive your car out onto the beach here - just like the good ol’ days!

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Hipcamper A

If you’re feeling adventurous, try and get a view from the north end of the beach by the cliffs - this lets you see the whole length of the beach, with the dunes in the background. Time to test those Instagram filters!

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Hipcamper A

There are some great lunch spots on the boardwalk and near the pier, check em out!

Hipcamper Shirtless host Steve

Report from your shirtless host on Piamo beach State Park.
Beach camping @ Piamo is a hoot! The park has 5-6 miles of beach. You can drive right down on the beach for day use and camping on the beach is you get lucky to get a spot. The main park has full hook up.
You can rent 4 wheelers or bring your own. The park has horse trail's kayaking,surfing,fishing and more fun then a family can do in a day. But camping is fun but family camping is more fun.
The camp sites are nice and the camp host are great. If you are looking for alot to do Piamo beach has something for everyone and all ages.
Your Shirtless host Steve.

Hipcamper Kerry

The quintessential California camping experience: check!

At Oceano Dunes SP, you can camp directly between the dunes and the ocean on the sprawling, beautiful Pismo Beach. This area is really recreational for ATV, 4-wheelers, etc... so on Saturdays and Sundays it's LOUD from ~10a to sunset. Fortunately, they're fun to enjoy and easy with rental places all over the beach.

Camping here is $10 and you get okay bathrooms at every post, but no fresh water. Since you camp with your car, it's quite easy to go in and out to grab extra supplies. You're allowed to cook and especially to build awesome bonfires here at night!

Be wary: decrease the pressure in your tires so you don't get stuck in the sand + bring WARM WARM WARM sleeping bags!

Hipcamper Kymberly

Campground isn't that great - just a big open area. Too crowded to be my style. But the dunes behind the campground, the boardwalk trail, and the access to everything in the area is amazing. Find a dune to sit on for sunset, one of the best sunset spots around :)

Hipcamper Sully

A little like a bunch of camp sites strewn across a field. Not the most atmospheric of environments to camp in. But as soon as you cross the dunes, heading to the sea, it's quite spectacular so make sure you get a beach walk in.

Activities in Pismo Beach State Beach

  • BikingBiking

    Pismo Beach is an awesome spot to break out your bike – especially if you are
    riding in a group of varied skill levels. The trails here are mostly long and flat, making for enjoyable (though not particularly challenging) rides. A great number of the trails lead to actual roads with bike lanes, so take that into consideration when planning your route. Mountain biking trails can be found within the area too, if you are willing to traverse to other parks.

  • BoatingBoating

    There are no places to bring motorboats (unless you literally come in that way), but check out our kayaking & canoeing section for available boating options.

  • FishingFishing

    The Pismo Beach Pier is a popular gathering spot for a few reasons. First, it provides an awesome escape from the sun. Second, it is known for some killer fishing ! What you catch along the pier is largely determined by where you are situated. However, anglers have been known to reel in fish such as perch, flounder, boccaccio, walleye and more. If you’re really up for a challenge, folks love to frequent the pier at night for a little shark fishing. Cue the jaws theme song…

  • HikingHiking

    Pismo Beach definitely has some great trails just waiting to be explored. One of our favorite hikes,
    The Shell Beach Bluffs hike, leads outdoorsmen on a path next to the area’s breathtaking coastal cliffs. Beware though! The cliffs are above Pirate’s Cove, a clothing-optional part of the beach (read: watch out for the occasional naked guy or gal).

  • Horseback RidingHorseback Riding

    A horseback ride through the dunes and on the beach never gets old. Seriously, it never does. Horseback riding on Pismo Beach is an awesome experience to have by yourself, with a friend, or with the whole family. Nearby ranches lead guided tours on the beach for an unforgettable ride.

  • Kayaking & CanoeingKayaking & Canoeing

    Pismo Beach is a scenic spot for year-round kayak adventures. Kayaking here is a unique experience because the area has tons of caves and coves to explore (not to mention marine wildlife to befriend). Experienced kayakers may venture out on their own, but novice kayakers are sure to have a great experience with one of the local t tours .

  • SwimmingSwimming

    The waters are often cold (we won’t lie), but it is still a great spot for a swim! The area has lifeguards (an awesome amenity), but visitors should always keep an eye on weather conditions and rip tides when swimming in ocean waters.

  • Wildlife WatchingWildlife Watching

    Pismo Beach has plenty of wildlife to spot. On the beach, onlookers should be searching for glimpses of animals such as migrating whales, seals and sea otters. The beach also has a special wildlife attraction, the Monarch Butterfly Grove . In late winter, the grove hosts a massive migration of monarch butterflies, making for a special and beautiful display of wildlife. This is definitely something you don’t want to miss, for everyone alike (non butterfly-enthusiasts included).

History of Pismo Beach State Beach

Pismo State Beach was named for the nearby city of Pismo Beach. Shell Beach and Sunset Palisades were originally home to Chumash village. Later on, Shell Beach became a source of agricultural land (mostly pea fields). In 1926, developer Floyd Calvert brought and developed the area. At first, Calvert’s vision created a local resort feel, but the area became mostly residential after World War II. Meanwhile, Sunset Palisades was the home to an oil refinery until after World War II when it also became residential.