3030 Avenida del Presidente
San Clemente, CA 92672
Region: North County Coastal
One of California's Most Popular Beaches
Bordered to the south and east by the sprawling Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Reserve, San Onofre is an opportunity to appreciate what Southern California's entire coastline may have looked like 100 years ago. Here you will find barren, windswept bluffs, native vegetation and a tidal wetland frequented by migratory birds and wild deer.
In stark contrast to its primitive, natural side, San Onofre is also home to a decommissioned nuclear-powered generating facility and a state-of-the-art military base. San Onofre offers three unique beach areas—Trestles, Old Man's and Trails—and opportunities to enjoy them by day or overnight camping.
Where to go
- Lower Trestles, on the south side of the San Mateo Creek river mouth, is a world famous surf break. Many pro surfers honed their craft at Trestles, and on any given day (but particularly in the summer/fall south swell season) you can witness a three-ring circus of modern power surfing and aerial maneuvers
- Old Man's is an easy spot to access, with good facilities and a safe, clean, sandy beach. Like its neighbor Trestles to the North, Old Man's (also known as San Onofre State Surfing Beach) is a world-renowned surf spot. Fun, gentle waves still roll through Old Man's, making it a popular surf spot for beginners and veterans alike, while beachgoers will appreciate the neighborly, tailgate party scene in and around the parking lot.
- Trails is the collective name for the three miles of beach fronting the San Onofre Bluffs State Campground to the south of the nuclear plant. The campground is set up in a linear fashion with campsites and bathroom facilities spaced at intervals all along the seaward side of the old Coast Highway. Beach here is predominantly sand with areas of rock reefs and tide pools at low tide.
- San Onofre State Beach Campground is great for camping, with 380 sites for RVs or tent camping. There are bathrooms, picnic tables and fire rings but no utility hookups. Reservations are somewhat hard to get so book early.
- Parts of Trails beach are patrolled by lifeguards and park rangers, but consider yourself at your own risk in all water safety judgments.
- Trestles and Old Man’s are patrolled by lifeguards. However, not frequently, so enjoy these areas at your own risk.
Bathrooms & Showers
- Old Man’s offers plenty of bathrooms and showers.
- San Onofre State Surfing Beach offers bathrooms and showers
- Surfing, surf fishing, clam digging and tide pooling.
- San Onofre Bluffs State Campground.
Directions to San Onofre beaches
- To find Old Man's and Trails, exit I-5 freeway at Basilone Road and head south. The entrance to the San Onofre State Surfing Beach (Old Man's) is a turnout on the right before reaching the Power Plant. Continue south past the Power Plant to reach the San Onofre State Beach campground entrance (Trails). The rangers at either of these gates can direct you to a parking area and provide information about availability, regulations, fees and current conditions. To get to Trestles, first-timers are advised to park at Old Man's and walk north up the beach.
What to Love
- Roasting marshmallows in a firepit at San Onofre State Beach.
- Mountain biking on marked trails near Trestles beach.
- Bird watching and enjoying spring flowers at San Mateo Creek Nature Preserve.
- Watching the surfers from the shoreline at Trestles.
What to Know
- The trails through the wetlands are protected habitat and environmentally sensitive.
- San Mateo Campground books up fast - make reservations well in advance.
- Alcohol is banned from all beaches within the state park.