Now that the weather is warming up, San Onofre is the perfect spot to plan a full-on day trip for the family. It truly feels like you’re miles away from that office building and 405 rush hour traffic, when your relaxing at San O’.
San Onofre State Beach has always been one of those spots whose whereabouts is clearly no secret amongst Orange County locals, however, once you get there it still feels like you’ve stepped slightly off the radar. That’s exactly what makes this place so unique… not to mention that it’s one of the most famous surf spots in California. Guys have been riding 150 pound redwood boards here since, at least the 1940’s (It’s been a surfing and fishing camp since the 1920’s.)
Getting to San Onofre can be a bit confusing the first time to head out there, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is exit Basilone Road off of the 405 freeway, head toward the beach, and follow the simple signs. Once you reach the entrance kiosk to the beach, you’ll have to pay the $15 state beach parking fee (which is good all day long, with exit/re-entry throughout the day.) Another option is to purchase an annual State beach parking pass which you can buy there.
On the weekends, especially with nice weather, the parking lot can fill up super quickly in the morning. That’s when you have to wait in line of cars at the top of the hill. They let cars in the lot based on a “one car out, one car in” basis… so bring your new issue of Surfer magazine. But if you get there early enough, you should have no problems.
The road can be a bit bumpy heading down to the sand, so leave your sports car at home, I’d recommend getting your buddy with the SUV or pick-up truck to carpool everyone down to San O’.
The surf at San Onofre is very forgiving (it’s highly considered to be a longboard wave). This simple fact is the reason that so many people catch their very first waves out there, and continue to session this place for the rest of their salty,sandy lives. It has a cult following and is even home to the San Onofre Surfing Club. You can visit www.sanonofresurfingclub.org for more information or to join.
There are spots to camp on the bluffs, located South of the main beach (often referred to as “Old Man’s”… I can’t imagine why.) These campsites are super mellow and a great place to camp and surf. There are trails that lead down to the water (the campsite is not directly on the sand). you can reserve your campsites at www.reserveamerica.com. If the San O’ bluffs are booked solid, you may also want to look into the San Mateo campgrounds or even San Clemente state Beach (which are both very close.)
Definitely make it a point to check out San Onofre this season. Bring wood for the fire pits, your dog, a cooler with plenty eats and drinks… and don’t forget your longboard!