So Cal Beach Camping! Pismo Beach Dunes

Camping is an adventure! At first, it can be overwhelming — where to go, how to reserve a place, what to pack… but it is thrilling! Just get out and do it. You will learn along the way. That’s my story in a nutshell.

We got our 14 foot camper less than a year ago. After lots of research, camp site reviews, mapping out destinations — we found the adventure is figuring things out. We’ve met the nicest travelers along the way. Picked up helpful tips and learned about new destinations worth exploring. If you love camping, read on! I’ll show you some neat tips to help you plan your next southern California beach camping trip. It can be overwhelming trying to find free or inexpensive rv/camper spots. Let me help you out!

RV resorts, during their peak season, can be upwards of $200 per night if you want to have a view of the ocean including hookups and other amenities. California beaches are beautiful, but finding an affordable camping spot can be tricky.

Our last trip took us up the California coast to the Dunes at Pismo Beach. At $10 per night to camp ON THE SAND, that was not bad. Here’s the link to reserve your spot.

This beach offers day use parking BEFORE post marker 2. And overnight camping in the reserved area PAST post marker 2. Basically, keep driving on the beach until you see all the ATVs and campers/RVs squished together.

I must say, there were some pros and cons about this place.

Here’s my list for PISMO BEACH

Pros Cons
  • Very inexpensive for overnight camping
  • Really nice people quick to help if you get stuck in the sand with your vehicle or need to borrow a shovel
  • Great place to ride an atv or motorbike on the sand dunes
  • Beautiful beach view
  • Easy spot to make a bonfire – just dig a hole in the sand
  • Nice for sunbathing
  • Great weather in the Summer, nights are cool
  • If you like to fish, take a chair, your gear, and hang out right on the shore
  • If you come with friends or family, you could park in a circle and create your own picnic/bonfire area – fun!
  • Reservations book up fast
  • Party scene (can get loud)
  • ATV and motorbike motors can be loud and whiz right by your campsite
  • Fireworks and loud music (not great if you want to sleep before 3am)
  •  Can get very crowded, hard to find parking right on the water
  • Easy to get stuck in the sand with your vehicle (we got stuck 3 times with our 4×4)
  • Not very private (if that’s what you’re looking for)


If you decide to go, here’s a list of items that will really come in handy.

  • 4×4 vehicle
  • tire pressure gauge (you’ll need to let the air out of you tires to about 15psi to have better grip on the soft sand)
  • Folding shovel (for digging your firepit)
  • Strap (to help others or yourself get pulled out if you get stuck in the sand)
  • Ramps (because you WILL get stuck in the sand at some point)
  • Firewood – free is best if you can find it, but they do sell it there too.
  • Games! Electronic Catchphrase — our favorite! Rummikub
  • Extra beach towels (because there’s sand everywhere)
  • Camping chairs
  • Yellow tape and tall sticks (to wrap Yellow Caution tape around) to block off your camping spot. This really helps ensure those motorbikes and ATVs don’t drive too close to your stuff and throw sand.
  • Blanket, jacket, hoodie – it gets rather cold after the sun goes down.


All things considered. I’m glad we ventured to Pismo Beach. We learned quite a bit and that was worth the trip! I did get some lovely pictures. Walked along the shore. Enjoyed the fresh sea air. Even relaxed a bit. We are however, nature lovers, hikers, quiet time seekers  and this scene did not offer much of that.

Our favorite beach so far that does offer the quiet and calm we love, plus a view, is Carpinteria State Beach. Stay tuned for a review on that along with tips on how to score the best RV/camper parking. Until next time, happy travels!


disclaimer: this post contains some amazon affiliate links. Every purchase provides a small commission that helps keep this blog running so I can continue sharing so many more great recipes with you. All opinions are my own. Rest assured, if I don’t love it, I won’t share it.

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