Put surfing and camping together and the outcome is like rustic bread meeting melted fancy cheese — the simplest nature pleasures made even more fantastic when their flavors sing a duet. September might be the best bet for camping in California — campsites usually sold out in the peak of summer start to show availability, the water is still warm and south swells are still pulsing.
Most of the Seeababes grew up spending summer vacations on surf and camp trips with their families on the stretch of California coastline between Ventura and San Diego, and they offered their top go-to spots for maximum surf and camp fun.
The ultimate party campgrounds: San Clemente State Beach Campgrounds in San Clemente
The camping: Right in the backyard of Seea headquarters, we’re partial to spur of the moment camping trips at San Clemente State Beach campgrounds. Invite everyone you know and get a group camping spot on the bluff to get the best view of the ocean while you gather around the fire pit. “There is a great overlook to the ocean and a short walk down to a perfect day beach — fun little waves to be had right down the trail too!” says Jenayl.
The surf: San Onofre is our Waikiki in Southern California. The historic longboarding spot breaks gently for beginners and the vibe is all Aloha full of families, surf clubs and friends. Leave your ego behind — it’s about having fun and catching party waves with expertly cross-stepping ladies and old dudes that have been surfing here in trunks since the 1960s. If you want more action on a smaller board, walk up north on the beach to Churches.
Must list: Surf your log from sunrise to sunset. Bring lunch, snacks and water because there is no in and out privileges once you’re parked. Bonus tip from Jenayl: “If you buy one day at San Onofre and surf all day, you can use that pass and go camp at San Clemente Campgrounds for just ten additional dollars and then you have readmission to San O the next day too!”
The greatest escape for Angelenos: Leo Carrillo State Beach Campgrounds in Malibu
The camping: Malibu wins as the best point in town, but Leo Carrillo has better campgrounds and is less touristy in the summer. “Leo Carrillo is so much fun because you camp right near a perfect break and can have all your friends crash too with a bonfire and a nice little wilderness space all to yourself,” says Jenayl.
The surf: Regular footers will get hearts in their eyes at the sight of the right point break that peels off the unmistakable big rock in front of the lifeguard tower. If it looks crowded, continue to the North beach parking lot for playful and spacious beach break to lay down your towel and umbrella for the day. You can also venture out to County Line or Point Dume nearby, but if it’s firing at Leo Carrillo, stay put.
Must list: Feel like you’re on a school field trip again and explore the tide pools with astonished kids. Bring your pup and take advantage that this is the only dog-friendly beach in Los Angeles.
The most off the grid: Jalama Beach in Lompoc
The camping: Jalama Beach is located about an hour from Santa Barbara and you’ll enter the black hole of cell phone service before you reach the beach. Enjoy it. The spots on the sand nearest to the ocean are the best view, but the campground is relatively intimate so you’ll wake up to the sound of the ocean no matter where you pitch your tent.
The surf: It has a history of shark sightings, notoriously high winds and can be powerful even when relatively small. The wind keeps the water pretty cold even in summer, but for adrenaline junkies, the rush of a good ride at this beach break is worth the chilly cost of admission.
Must list: Get a famous Jalama burger at the Jalama Beach Store and a borderline tourist tacky souvenir hat or shirt that can easily tip the scale to amazing if you wear it right. Brave the wind and stroll down the expansive shoreline for beautifully serene desolate views.
The quintessentially Southern California experience: San Elijo State Beach in San Diego
The camping: If you want to camp at San Elijo next year, you better plan your trip now. It’s the best camping spot in North County San Diego in front of the most consistent surfing spots, which means it always sells out the minute the reservations open. If you stalk the calendar regularly, however, you can get lucky if there’s a cancellation… on a weekday. It happens.
Jenayl’s tip for the best pitch numbers: “If you park by the fence there is a pretty view down to the ocean!”
The surf: Walk down whichever big staircase is closest to your site and you’ll hit the long stretch of beach break from Pipes in Cardiff to Swami’s (chances are you’ll almost always spot Seea in these line-ups). It’s the best beach for friends of all experience levels to coexist with tons of options for aspiring aerial artists, mellow longboarders and beginners on foamies to all find their own fun peak.
Must list: “If you have a car or a bike it's super fun to ride to local coffee shops after your surf sesh. It's a super mellow spot!” says Jenayl. We’re partial to post-surf healthy brunches at Lotus Café.
The most gorgeous wilderness campground: Plaskett Creek Campground in Big Sur
The camping: Plaskett Creek is our favorite campground in the heart of Big Sur’s magical rugged coastline. Pitching a tent on the grassy plots in the outskirts of the grounds, enclosed by towering pine and cypress trees feels like camping in the middle of the wilderness.
The surf: Big Sur has a rocky coastline full of exposed boulders and more under the surface you might not see if the tide is high, but Sand Dollar Beach, a five minute walk across from Plaskett Creek campgrounds, is your best bet for a forgiving and protected cove with a sandy bottom beach in the summer.
Must list: Bring your hiking shoes and pup to this dog-friendly beach. Follow the signs from the campground to the Jade Cove and Plaskett Rock Point hiking trails for an easy stroll to soak in Big Sur’s world-famous ocean cliffs.
If all else fails and you can't get a spot? Amy Reda says home is where you park it, "
Nothing beats having a van. We use to have a 76 pop-top VW bus and now we have a "band van," and we can pull over and sleep wherever. We've slept at some amazing surf spots because we had the ability to do this!"