Northern California has some of the prettiest beaches in all of the US. It is easy to find stunning beaches in this great state. It’s not so easy to find places where you can camp on the beach in Northern California.
There is nothing better than camping at the beach! Waking up to the sound of the waves, enjoying all day on the sand and then watching the sunset over the ocean. Camping at the beach is simply amazing and should be on your bucket list.
Whether you want to park your RV next to the ocean, or set up your tent right on the sand, there are some great places to plan your beach camping trip.
Places for Beach Camping in Northern California
I have done all the research for you and found the most amazing beach side camping locations in Northern California. I have also included useful information about each of the campgrounds. I hope that this helps you plan your perfect camping adventure.
1. Wright’s Beach Campground
Located six miles north of Bodega Bay right off Highway-1 on the Sonoma County Coast is the beautiful Wright’s Beach Campground. This year-round campground is one of the few campgrounds in Northern California that is actually right on the beach.
There are a total of 27 campsites that accommodate tents and RVs. Premium sites 1-10 border the sand and are facing the ocean. These premium sites are the closest to the beach, but they don’t have as much privacy and can get more windy than the other sites.
These premium sites also sell out fast, so make sure you book early to get right on the beach. You can book up to 6-months in advance. While these sites might be hard to reserve, if you do get one, you will be rewarded with amazing ocean views and beautiful sunsets over the ocean right from your campsite.
For more information visit the Wright’s Beach Campground website.
2. Bodega Dunes Campground
Another great camping location within the Sonoma Coast State Park is the Bodega Dunes Campground. These campsites offer a chance to camp in your RV, trailer, or tent next to the sand dunes of Bodega Bay.
This campground is well maintained, the sites are spacious, and it is located under coastal cypress trees within walking distance to the Bodega Dunes Beach.
While this campground is not right on the beach, and the sites don’t have ocean views, you can still hear the waves from your campsite.
This is a popular beach campground in Northern California and it does get filled up fast, so make sure that you book your reservations early.
Take time during the day to explore the beach, hike to Bodega Head for whale watching, hike the Kortum Trail, or walk the boardwalk that overlooks the beach near the day use area.
It is also only a 5-minute drive to the town of Bodega Bay where there is shopping and restaurants. Nearby you will find The Links at Bodega Harbour golf-course, sportfishing tours, and you can take guided horseback rides at Chanslor Ranch or Horse N Around Trail Rides.
For more information visit the Bodega Bay Dunes website.
3. Kirby Cove Campground
Kirby Cove Campground is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation area and is popular for its breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This campground is a unique and unforgettable experience. There are only five overnight tent camping sites and one day-use picnic site. To get to the parking area for the campsites you have to drive on a steep access road.
Make sure you pack light because you do have to walk all your gear about a half-mile from the parking area to your campsite.
The views are simply amazing! You can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay right from most of the campsites. It is also just a short walk down to the beach from the campsites.
While the Kirby Cove Campground is a popular place to camp with ocean views, it is really hard to actually get reservations to camp here.
Camping slots open up three months in advance and literally fill up within minutes. If you want to reserve a spot you can randomly check the website for cancelations (and hope that you get lucky) or you can try to book a campsite on the first of the month when they go live.
There is no running water at Kirby Cove, so you will need to bring water with you. Also make sure you lock up your food, because there are lots of raccoons.
Consider yourself lucky if you are able to score one of the camping sites at Kirby Cove. Even if you don’t book a site, you can still walk the trail to Kirby Cove and spend the day exploring the beach and experiencing some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
For more information visit the Kirby Cove Campground website.
4. Manchester Beach KOA
Another great beach campground in Northern California is the Manchester Beach KOA. Located just off Highway-1 about a 10-minute drive from Point Arena.
This campground is right on the Mendocino County Coast. You can’t actually see the ocean from the campsites, but it is a mile walk to the beach.
The Manchester Beach KOA offers RV sites (65’ max length), tent site, and cabin rentals. They also have full hookups, a pool, hot tub, dog park, and arcade room.
It would be a great place for families as there are some fun activities including ice cream socials, karaoke, community camp fires, and craft projects.
You could also spend the day exploring the nearby Manchester State Beach, which is one of the best beaches in California for beachcombing. This sandy beach is 5-mile long and stretches from the Point Arena Lighthouse to Alder Creek Beach.
For more information visit the Manchester Beach KOA website.
5. Anchor Bay Campground
Right off Highway-1 this private 6-acre campground is tucked next to a beautiful beach on the Mendocino County Coast. The Anchor Bay Campground is a 3-hour drive north from San Francisco. This campground may be small, but it is one of the best for camping on the beach in Northern California.
The Anchor Bay Campground sits in a narrow gulch that is filled with redwood trees and ferns. Some of the sites have ocean views as this campground is right next to the sand of Anchor Bay Beach.
This popular beach campground does fill up fast, so make sure you reserve your spot early. There are over 27 camping spots available and each site comes with water hook-ups, a picnic table and fire pit.
There are some sites that do have full hookups. You will also find a small store at the campground, but for all your other needs the little resort town of Anchor Bay is just minutes away.
The beach next to the campground is popular for scuba diving, fishing, abalone diving, whale watching and swimming. The best thing about this campground and beach is that it is located in an area called the “Banana Belt” so the weather here is much nicer compared to other areas along the Mendocino County Coast.
For more information visit the Anchor Bay Campground website.
6. Doran Campground
On a peninsula between Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean is a 2-mile stretch of beach within Sonoma County is the Doran Regional Park. Tucked in right next to the beach is the Doran Campground.
This campground’s proximity to Bodega Bay (10 minute drive) makes it a perfect location to camp on the beach and drive into town for shopping or restaurants.
The Doran Campground has some beautiful campsites that have views of the ocean. There are 120 year-round campsites that accommodate tents, trailers and RV’s (no hook-ups).
There are restrooms, showers, water and a dump station available in the campground. This campground is very popular and fills up fast, so make sure you reserve your spot early.
Near the campground in the Doran Regional Park you will find beaches, hiking and walking trails, equestrian trails, and a boat launch. The area is popular for walking, picnicking, playing in the sand, surfing, fishing, and bird watching.
Make sure you dress warm and bring a kite, as the campground sits on a peninsula so it can get really windy.
For more information visit the Doran Campground website.
7. Gold Bluffs State Beach Campground
This tent only campground is part of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Northern California near the Redwoods. It is also just down the road from the popular Fern Canyon which is a canyon covered in Ferns and where scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed.
The Gold Bluffs State Beach Campground is located in the dunes along a 10-mile stretch of beach. The campground is secluded and offers a peaceful place to camp next to the ocean.
To access the campground you have to drive through the Redwoods about 6-miles down Davison Road which is a dusty narrow dirt road (no trailers allowed on this road).
There are 26 tent only campsites that each have a picnic table, fire grill, and food storage locker. The actual campsites are tucked into the coastal sand dunes and you can hear the ocean right from your tent.
The beach is just a short walk from the campsites and is popular for beachcombing, birdwatching, and playing in the sand. Within the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park you will often see wild Elk. There are also some great hiking trails.
About a mile from the campground is the famous Fern Canyon Hike. There is also the Miner’s Ridge Trail where you can see old growth Redwoods.
This is one of the best places for beach camping in Northern California if you are looking for a quiet secluded campsite right next to the ocean.
For more information visit the Gold Bluffs State Beach Campground website.
8. Francis Beach Campground
Located in the cute beach town of Half Moon Bay is one of the best beach campgrounds in California. The Francis Beach Campground sits right on the San Mateo County Coast and is just steps away from a beautiful sandy beach.
This campground has 52 campsites for trailers, RVs and tents. Many of the campsites even have ocean views. This is the perfect place to camp if you want to see the ocean right from your campsite. Popular activities include whale watching, fishing, and surfing.
Swimming is not recommended at this beach due to the dangerous rip currents. There is also the paved Coastside trail that runs beside the campground and is great for walking or cycling.
The campground is open year round and can accommodate RV’s of up to 40-feet. Some campsites also have full hookups. All campsites have a picnic tables, food locker, and fire ring.
When you are not at your campsite or enjoying the beach, you could explore the area in and around Half Moon Bay. There is the Pillar Point Harbor where you can see working fishing boats and sea life.
There is also Mavericks beach which is a famous destination for surfers and one of the best Northern California beaches.
For more information visit the Francis Beach Campground website.
9. Westport Beach RV and Campground
On the beautiful Mendocino County coastline lies one of the best places for beach camping in Northern California. Westport Beach RV and Campground has ocean view sites right next to a private beach.
This is the perfect spot to park your RV or set up your tent and enjoy the relaxing sounds of the ocean. This campground has RV sites with full hookups, tent sites and cabin rentals.
You will also have everything you need right on sites such as showers, bathrooms, a general store, park for the kids, and a fish cleaning station.
The ocean is just steps away from the campground. You can spend the day enjoying the beach, or explore some of the other great things to do near this campground.
There are some beautiful beaches nearby including the famous Glass Beach (16-miles south). The Mendocino County coast is also a popular destination for fishing, surfing, and has many surrounding spots for scuba diving and snorkeling.
For more information visit the Westport Beach RV and Campground website.
10. Moss Landing KOA Express
This campground is one of the best places for beach camping in Northern California for nature lovers. Located on the harbor in Monterey Bay and within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The best part of moss landing is the location. It is just a short walk from the campground to the beach, restaurants and shopping. It is also just a 15-minute drive to Santa Cruz or Monterey.
Moss Landing is only for fully self-contained RV’s. There are no sites for tent or van camping. All sites come with full hookups. The RV park is pretty small, and the sites are close together, but it is a clean park and you can’t beat all there is to do in the area.
Visitors enjoy scenic nature tours through the Elkhorn Slough, chartered whale watching tours, and exploring the beach. It is also just a short drive to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the historic Monterey-Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf.
For more information visit the Moss Landing KOA Express website.
11. Lawson’s Landing
This fishing and boating resort and campground is so popular that it has become a destination for generations of families returning every year to enjoy this beautiful beach campground in Northern California.
Lawson’s Landing is about 20-miles west of Petaluma near the beautiful Dillon Beach. It is the perfect destination for camping, boating, fishing, and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Coast.
This year round campground has RV and tent sites and it is just a short walk from the campground to Dillon Beach.
When not at the campground visitors enjoy nearby activities such as hiking Bodega Head and the Tomales Point Trail. Lawson’s Landing is also less than 10-miles from Tomales Bay State Park which has some beautiful beaches, a majestic forest, and wild animals.
For more information visit Lawson’s Landing website.
There is nothing quite like camping on the beach! I hope that this list of the best places for beach camping in Northern California helps you to find your new favorite place to camp. Just remember to book your site early as all the campsites right on the beach fill up fast.
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