Santa Barbara County is famous for its beautiful beaches, and El Capitán State Beach is one worth noting, allowing visitors to camp on a low bluff just above the ocean. El Capitán State Beach is a fun place to camp with family and friends, relaxing by the ocean and falling asleep to the sound of the waves each night. The campground is located on a point 17 miles west of Santa Barbara, between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean. El Capitán State Beach has 132 standard sites (accommodating groups of eight or less) and three group site (accommodating groups of forty or more). The campground at El Capitán State Beach is open year round, and sites can be booked in advanced to guarantee your place camping about as close to the ocean as you can get.
Individual sites at El Capitán State Beach may be reserved for $45 per night (as of September, 2013). There is soft ground to set tents up on, and most sites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet in length (some can even handle 42-footers). Expect the campground at El Capitán State Beach to be full almost every weekend, so book your site in advance either online or by calling (800) 444-7275. Check-in time is at 2 p.m. and check-out is at 12 p.m.
Campground amenities include picnic tables, fire rings with high metal sides, flush toilets, pay showers, potable water, and a general store. The most appealing amenity of course is the beach, where you can swim, surf, fish, play in the sand, and walk along the shore.
For those who are not camping overnight, there is a day use parking area with access to the beach, general store, horseshoe pits, hiking trails, picnic tables, and charcoal grill.
A $10 day use fee is charged for each vehicle using the day use area. A $10 fee is also applied to add additional vehicles to campsites (a maximum of three vehicles are allowed per site).
In addition to lazing by the beach, park visitors can go hiking at El Capitán State Beach. The Nature Trail provides a short stroll through a lush sycamore grove along El Capitán Creek. A bike path next to the campground can be used for a refreshing ride along the coast, and you can easily bike a couple miles west to the campground at Refugio State Beach, exploring the lovely coastline in between.
To get to the campground: From Highway 101 west of Santa Barbara, take exit 117 for El Capitán State Beach Road. Turn south at the end of the offramp (toward the ocean) and drive a short distance to the park entrance.
Campground address: 2 El Capitan State Beach Road, Goleta, CA 93117
Campground coordinates: 34.460105, -120.023608 (34° 27′ 36.37″N 120° 01′ 24.98″W)
Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:
Or view Central Coast trails and campgrounds in a larger map
|Nature Trail in El Capitán State Beach|
This 0.35-mile hike loops through a lush sycamore grove bordering El Capitán Creek to approach the rocky shore at the end of El Capitán Point.
|Gaviota Wind Caves|
This 2.5-mile hike just off Highway 101 visits wind-carved caves in Gaviota State Park with great ocean views.
This 6.5-mile loop mounts a 2,458-foot summit two miles from the Pacific and then descends Trespass Trail to explore the wilds of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
|Gaviota Hot Springs|
This short hike visits a warm hot springs along the trail to Gaviota Peak in Gaviota State Park.
|Tunnel View and Trespass Trails Loop|
This 2.6-mile loop steals a view over Highway 101 and the Gaviota Tunnel.
|Gaviota Pass Overlook Loop|
This 6.5-mile loop tours scenic ridges in Gaviota State Park to arrive at a soaring overlook above the Gaviota Tunnel.
This short 0.65-mile hike visits an 80-foot tall fern-lined waterfall.
|More Central Coast Hikes|
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey.
|Refugio State Beach Campground|
This 67-site campground is a great oceanfront camping destination along the coast west of Santa Barbara, just three miles from El Capitán State Beach.
|Gaviota State Park Campground|
With 39 sites situated right next to the beach and proximity to many hiking trails, this coastal campground has a lot of appeal.
|Wheeler Gorge Campground|
This 70-site campground in the Los Padres National Forest outside Ojai is complimented by a 1-mile nature trail.
|Emma Wood State Beach Campground|
This 90-site campground in Ventura is only for RVs, offers ocean views but few amenities, and does not allow tents.
|Sycamore Canyon Campground|
This 58-site campground in Point Mugu State Park sits at the mouth of a beachfront canyon and has access to trails through the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains.