San Clemente's Best-Kept Secret: San Onofore State Beach

Visiting California but want to avoid the tourist traps? Check out San Onofore, one of Southern California's best kept secret beaches.

Nestled in San Clemente at the bottom of Orange County, San Onofore State Beach welcomes surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, campers, kayakers, birders, fishermen and bicyclists. Whales, dolphins and sea lions are often spotted, especially during the winter. The state beach has three distinct areas: the San Onofre Bluffs, the San Mateo Campground and the San Onofre Surf Beach.
the San Onofre Surf Beach.

The Bluffs are great for camping and day-use; as campsites include outdoor showers, toilers, fire pits, and picnic tables. Trail 6 is known for being the secret nude beach amongst the locals, though "no nudity" signs are peppered amongst the area to discourage beachgoers from taking it all off.

The San Mateo Campground offers hiking trails and 3.5 miles of sandy beaches.

San Mateo Creek flows east of the campground towards the ocean creating key riparian and wetland habitats which host some rare species. All campsites include a fire pit, picnic table, dump station for RVs, hot indoor showers, and flush toilets. Camping is available year-round.

San Onofre Surf Beach is a world-famous surfing spot. This area is for day-use only and does not allow camping but does offer fire pits and showers.

Below are the beaches offered by San Onofore Surf Beach:

Trestles - To get to Trestles, you must take a walk via a dirt trail from either the north or south end, both passing under Trestles Bridge. This is a great surfing spot.

Church - Located near the Camp Pendleton Beach Resort, Church is a great spot for sun bathing.

Surf Beach –The area of beach is divided into three spots known as "The Point," "Old Man's," and "Dogpatch." This whole area is covered in rocks, making long walks on the beach a little uncomfortable.

Trails - Trails is also the last point to camp at San Onofre. Camping is on the bluffs with cold showers and 'toilets nearby.

This state beach is 3 miles south of the city of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road. San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach are located south of San Clemente on I-5 (Exit Basilone Road). The San Mateo Campground is located on the outer edge of San Clemente; 1 mile inland from I-5 (Exit Cristianitos)

Enjoy Southern California's best kept secret!

Aimee Engebretson has lived in Southern California for 25 years. She runs her own travel blog and aspires to travel to every beach in California.