Northern San Diego County Surf & Camp Vacation

San Diego County, California, stretches along I-5 from the border with Mexico north to the Orange County line at San Clemente. All along the way are legendary surf beaches, waiting to be explored by RV travelers. There are also exceptional places to camp by RV along the entire route.

We’ve broken up our itinerary into northern and southern San Diego County surf and camp destinations. This week, we’ll be talking about the northern beaches, from Trestles at San Onofre State Beach down to Carlsbad State Beach. As you read, use this handy surf cam/surf report link to see how the waves are breaking at each point.

Surf & Camp Stop 1: San Onofre State Beach

San Clemente, CA

San Clemente, CA

Two surfing beaches worth a visit, no matter when you come to San Diego County, can be found at San Onofre State Beach, just south of San Clemente   and adjacent to Camp Pendleton North. Reserve a campsite before you come at San Mateo Campground, about a mile and a half inland from Trestles Beach.

Make your way along the trail that crosses under I-5 to Trestles and Old Man Beach just to the south, where you’ll find distinctly different surfing conditions, both courtesy of the break at San Mateo Point. (Hint: “Old Man” refers to the long board surfers who once flocked to the rollers here. Trestles offers three areas—Uppers, Middles and Lowers—each with its own signature brand of swells.)

Non-surfers in your camping crew will appreciate the windswept trails along the bluffs and three-plus-miles of beaches to enjoy.

Surf & Camp Stop 2: Oceanside Harbor

The natural and manmade breaks found in the harbor at Oceanside, CA make for consistently good surfing year-round. Situated to receive desirable southwest swells, Oceanside offers challenges for beginning to advanced surfers.

Come RV camping and surfing to Oceanside to experience such hotspots as the jetties on the harbor’s north side, as well as the waves on both sides of the pier. Surfers will also appreciate the steady break action caused by sandbars throughout the harbor.

Where to camp while in Oceanside? There are two beachside parking lots that allow overnight RV parking (no hook-ups, but couldn’t be closer to the water). If you miss those parking spots, there are numerous private RV parks near Oceanside, or you can head for our next Northern San Diego County Surf & Camp Spot—South Carlsbad State Beach.

Surf & Camp Spot 3: South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach offers spectacular views from its bluff-top campground, where you can relax each night after a long day of surfing. The continuous break of waves rolling toward Tamarack Surf Beach attracts surfing enthusiasts year-round. An added bonus: you’re a short drive from surfing action at Oceanside as well as the challenges farther south at Cardiff, Del Mar and La Jolla (more about those in the next post).

While at Carlsbad/Tamarack Beach, take the time to walk the four-mile seawall for views of the beach, the ocean and sunsets that will take their place in your top vacation memories.

Whether you decide to RV camp and surf your way through northern San Diego County in the golden days of summer or when winter’s Santa Ana winds kick up a whole new breed of waves, there’s no time like the present to start planning. Pick your next surfing challenge. Rent the RV that suits your style, reserve your campsites and pack your wetsuits and board shorts. That’s really all you need; San Diego County is ready to supply the rest of your epic surf and camp vacation.

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