Even though it is not that far from my house, I have camped several times at San Onofre and had a blast every time. It is located just south of San Clemente on Basilone Road on I-5. During season it is $25 and non-season is $20 per night. Make reservations and check this place as well as all other State Beaches out at the state park website. I would highly recommend this place for surfers. You can walk right down the cliffs to the well known waves that offer a particularly good time for long boarders. It is also just one exit south of Trestles and other San Clemente breaks. It is a great way to beat the crowds and be out in the water right when the sun is coming up.
There are campgrounds all along the bluffs of each of the six trails that lead to the beach. Although each campsite is a little small, they are perfect for a small group on an overnighter or weekend. Each site has a fire pit and picnic table, with nearby access to bathrooms and cold showers. A beneficial, if not mandatory thing to check for at all campsites near the ocean is showers. Even if they are freezing, the last thing you want to do is sleep in a tent with all of that salt on you, especially if you are planning a few days of surf. For some reason camping intensifies rashes; you definitely want to be able to rinse off.
A small word of caution: beware of barking raccoons, beached whales and the nudies at Trails Six.
As for the massive nuclear power plant . . . harmless.
Camping has long been a way to make surfing up and down coastlines possible and affordable.
Now, of course camping has its downsides:
- Whatever side of the fire you sit or move to, the smoke continually follows you (it’s ridiculous really)
- you smell like campfire for days, your clothes may end up smelling like camp fire forever
- your hot dog is either charred on the outside or frozen on the inside
- more than one Smore gives you a stomachache (and you always eat more than one which is why they are always referred to in the plural *Smores), and along with the stomach ache comes contagious sticky hands
- there always seems to be a rock under your sleeping bag no matter how many times you check
- You wake up (if you slept), way earlier than you hoped, with at least a bad back
However, this list simultaneously contains some of my favorite best elements of camping. Sleeping on the ground, sticky Smores hands, frozen and charred hot dogs, and being out in nature with your friends somehow always makes for a really great time and loads of stories. Regardless of how you feel when you pull away from a campsite, you will eventually return to camp again, because it is simply fun.
Combine camping with surfing: glorious.