San Onofre Beach

This page last updated July 31, 2008 by Lloyd Johnson

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I have been to San Onofre Beach dozens of times from 1991 to 2008. Nudity has been legal at the southern end of San Onofre State Beach.  The nude status is currently under attack.  It is urgent that you contact Friends of San Onofre in order to save the beach.

Before you go you might check the Oceanside cam on my weather page.
The beach is wide and has a mixture of fine and coarse grained sand. There is gravel just under the surf. You will have to walk over that gravel to enter the water. There is always a volleyball net on weekends for those who wish to play. Some people bring wind breaks, as the afternoon winds make it rather cool. The surf is very rough and seems favorable for surfing. I don't surf. I free dive. While free diving, I have found a few hermit crabs on the bottom and I often see dolphins from the beach. Take a look at some of my underwater photos.

San Onofre State Beach is located just north of Camp Pendleton and just south of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.  From Interstate 5, exit at Basilone Road.  Approaching from the south, that's past call box 5-710.  Turn west. The road will curve left, continue south on the access road.  You will have to pay $10 at the toll booth for day use.  I don't know the fee for camping.

Follow the road to the south end of the beach, nearly three miles, and park near Trail 6.  Parking is often scarce in the summer.  You might want to use the bathroom before going further, since there are none at the beach.  
Follow the trail to the beach.  You will bear left and then turn right down a steep incline that often has a deep rut.  That is the only obstacle to using a wagon or cart. When you reach the beach, head south, a left turn. A little beyond the last lifeguard tower is a wash. The nude portion of the beach begins at the wash. You will recognize it from a distance, since there are suddenly lots of people and umbrellas ahead. Don't go past the chain link fence, or you will be on the Camp Pendleton Military Base.

If you want to avoid the parking problems, you can exit south of the immigration check point, at Las Pulgas Road, between call boxes 5-616 and 5-626. East of I-5 is a small parking lot. People park there to use the three mile bike trail. I use the bike trail, since it connects to the south end of the San Onofre State Beach parking lot. I bicycle those three miles, carrying towels, food, water and umbrellas. It takes about the same amount of time as it would driving through the check point, driving back south along the access road, paying at the booth and driving through the long parking lot. I've also seen people walking and roller-skating on the path.