South Carlsbad State Beach Camping

10 reviews
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South Carlsbad State Beach - Tim Buss
Photo: Tim Buss
South Carlsbad State Beach - valeehill
Photo: valeehill
South Carlsbad State Beach - Chris Hunkeler
Photo: Chris Hunkeler
South Carlsbad State Beach - bossco
Photo: bossco
South Carlsbad State Beach - Tim Buss
Photo: Tim Buss


Campgrounds in South Carlsbad SB


A brief introduction to South Carlsbad SB

Locals and visitors to the Southern California town of Carlsbad (pop. 116,000) flock to the South Carlsbad State Beach for its long sandy beach and scenic bluffs. This park is renowned for swimming, surfing, fishing, and visiting tidepools. Bring your bike and check out the epic views. You might spot some dolphins, seals, or shorebirds.

Camping at South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach comprises two main areas: the North End and The South End. The park contains 215 campsites, with sites for RVs and tents. Each campsite includes a picnic table and fire ring, and some offer water and electrical hookups. Pad types are a mix of dirt and paved pads. There is one premium group campsite that can accommodate up to 40 campers.

Restrooms with showers are available near the campground. On the bluff, there’s a camp store and pizza-based restaurant, where you can enjoy a wine or beer and look out at the ocean. You’ll find trash and recycling bins throughout the park. An RV dump station is available (registered campers get lower rates). South Carlsbad State Beach’s park rangers, campground hosts, and maintenance staff are on-site to keep the park operating smoothly.

South Carlsbad State Beach offers 13 ADA-designated campsites. A beach wheelchair is available for use (call 760-753-5091 for information). Accessible routes to the beach are also available. Service animals are permitted in the campground.

Location and history of South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach is located within the city limits of Carlsbad, California. You can access the park by car via Interstate 5. No car? You can take North County Transit District (NCTD) Coaster train to Carlsbad Village Station and then taxi, rideshare, or bus the rest of the way.

The 4 miles of beach at South Carlsbad State Beach face west to the Pacific Ocean and are popular for surfing and swimming. The campground is on a bluff, approximately 50' above sea level. To the east of the park are several homes for Carlsbad’s residents. Nestled in the city of Carlsbad, the beach allows visitors easy access to supplies and amenities.

The Luiseño are the traditional people of this area and much of the Southern Californian Coast. In time, the region became part of the Spanish Mission system, disrupting the ways of the Luiseño. Between 1821 and 1848, the area became Mexican territory and part of Rancho Agua Hedionda. After the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California to the United States. By the late 1800s, Carlsbad had begun to develop as a town.

Ecosystems, wildlife, and vegetation at South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach is famous for its sandy beach (go figure), which offers shorebirds and burrowing invertebrates habitat. Its coastal bluffs are home to nesting birds that forage the grounds. The park’s exposed shoreline is home to breaking waves, kelp beds, and migrating species. When the tide is out, tidepools form mini-ecosystems for mussels, anemones, and crustaceans.

Visitors often see California sea lions offshore, basking on rocks and pods of bottlenose dolphins and harbor seals. You might also spot western fence lizards, sand crabs, or ochre sea stars. The park’s waters are home to California grunion, leopard sharks, and the bright orange garibaldi. See many Western gulls, brown pelicans, or great blue herons foraging on the shore. Endangered species include California's least tern and snowy plovers.

Plants in and around South Carlsbad State Beach must withstand salt spray, salt in the soil, and drought during the area’s long dry periods. Watch for the bright yellow flowers of beach primrose, saltgrass, California sagebrush, and coastal buckwheat. Low-growing sand verbena’s purple flowers and the white/purple blooms of sea rockets can also be found in the area. Kelp also washes up on the beach and is vital to the ecosystem.

Sporting, recreational, and cultural activities at South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach is popular for surfers of all skill levels. Be sure to check the conditions before entering the water. Swim in areas with lifeguards and be aware of rip currents’ dangers. Other enjoyable activities include stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking on calm days, beach volleyball with friends, and running along the beach.

More laid-back types can fish (with a valid license) for perch, corbina, and halibut. Families will enjoy exploring tidepools at low tide and identifying creatures, spotting dolphins and whales further from shore, or possibly witnessing the unique grunion run phenomenon. You might try beachcombing, flying a kite, sitting around a campfire, or deep breathing with some oceanside yoga.

If you need a little time out of the sun, you might visit Carlsbad’s Museum of Making Music or the Oceanside Museum of Art. In Carlsbad you’ll also find the State Street Farmers Market, live music, street fairs, food and art festivals, cultural celebrations, and community theater. You might also sign up for a walking, food, or boat tour.

Risks, tips, and notes for South Carlsbad State Beach

Shuffling your feet will help you avoid stepping on stingrays. You should also watch out for stingrays, seals, and sea lions. Other beach risks include powerful waves, changing tides, rip currents, and excessive sun exposure. Avoid leaving valuables in your car or unattended on the beach to prevent opportunistic thieves from scooping up your stuff.

Southern California’s climate is awfully nice year-round, although the summer brings more sun and warm water. To avoid the crowds, visit on weekdays, mornings, evenings, and during shoulder season. Book your campsite early, as they sell out fast—or scan South Carlsbad State Beach for canceled campsite reservations. Pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and clothing layers (as the ocean breeze can be cool).

Campers tell us they love South Carlsbad State Beach’s location, as they can walk right down to such an amazing beach and take in the ocean views. They also like the park’s cleanliness, amenities, and relaxing vibe. Some disliked how crowded the park can get and the associated noise from tightly packed campsites. Some of the park’s campsites have significantly better views than others.


Information about South Carlsbad State Beach



7201 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, CA 92008


33.1013° N, 117.3186° W


South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is located 50 miles north of San Diego on the California Coast. From San Diego drive north on I-5 N. Take exit 45 from the I-5 N and follow Poinsettia Lane. Turn right on to Carlsbad Boulevard until you reach the campground.


85 ft (26 m)


44 acres (18 ha)





(760) 438-3143


South Carlsbad State Beach on California State Parks



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Reservations available

Up to 6 months in advance of arrival date


  • Inland campsites (no hook-ups): $35 per night

  • Inland campsites with hook-ups: $60 per night

  • Ocean campsites (no hook-ups): $50 per night

  • Ocean campsites with hook-ups: $75 per night

  • Ocean double campsites with hook-ups: $100 per night

  • Group campsites: $500 per night

  • Additional vehicles: $15 each

Online booking

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground at Reserve California

Phone reservations

(800) 444-7275


Scan South Carlsbad State Beach for cancelations



Open year-round


  • Drive in

  • Walk in

Number of sites


Site types

  • Tent campsites

  • RV campsites

  • Trailer campsites

Check-in time

2:00 p.m.

Check-out time

12:00 p.m. (noon)


Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a six-foot leash. Dogs are not allowed on the beach. Pets must be in your tent/vehicle at night. Service dogs are welcome in all areas.


In designated areas only

Group camping

Yes (Pelican Point Group Campsite)


Max. site occupants


Vehicles per site


Maximum vehicle length


Pad type

  • Dirt

  • Paved

Campsite features

Picnic table, fire ring, grill, some sites with hook-ups


Number of accessible sites


Accessible campsites

16, 77, 87, 97, 108, 119, 126, 148, 153, and 184


  • Accessible campfire center

  • Accessible parking

  • Accessible restrooms with showers

  • Accessible tables (South Ponto Day Use Area)

  • Accessible vistas

  • Beach access ramp

  • Beach wheelchairs

  • Level, spacious, paved pads



  • Amphitheater

  • Bike trails

  • Campsite office

  • Day use areas

  • Lookout points

  • Outdoor showers

  • Parking

  • Picnic areas

  • Restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers

  • Visitor center


  • Power

  • Sewage

  • Water


  • Camp store

  • Campfire center

  • Grocery stores nearby

  • Laundry

On site

  • Firewood

  • Grills

  • Potable water

  • Picnic tables


  • Campground host

  • Lifeguards (seasonally)


  • Sani-dump station

  • Recycling

  • Waste (household only)



  • Bicycling

  • Body surfing

  • Kayaking

  • Surfing

  • Swimming

  • Windsurfing


  • Bird watching

  • Interpretive programs

  • Scuba diving

  • Snorkeling

  • Stargazing






  • AT&T

  • T-Mobile

  • U.S. Cellular

  • Verizon




To come

Members say


  • Long sandy beach with warm water

  • Campsites with amazing views of the ocean

  • Nearby city amenities and restaurants


  • Small campground that books quickly

  • Sites are a bit close to one another

  • Some theft in the area


  • Oceans can be dangerous; check conditions before swimming

  • Campground will be closed from October 24 – November 11 for scheduled maintenance

  • Please respect speed limits within the park

Best campsites

1 – 72, 156 – 222

ARE South Carlsbad State Beach campsites SOLD OUT?

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Camper reviews for South Carlsbad SB

An 'ok' place to stay

This "camp"ground is up on a bluff, behind chain link fences. We stayed here as a stop during a weekend at Legland. For this purpose, it is good. But is not camping. Crowded thoroughfare, but the upside is the spaces are large

marita De Leon
marita De Leon reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on September 27th, 2023

Events at camp store on weekends.

This campground is so fun. The sound of the waves can be heard throughout the campground as it is right next to a rocky beach. It can be loud due to the PCH traffic though. they have a restaurant/store that has fire pits and hires local bands to play on evening weekends. It’s very fun. Also, they have RV sites with double RV parking spots.

Barbara L stepner
Barbara L stepner reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on September 20th, 2023

Loved this place!

So beautiful to have the ocean in your back yard and hear the waves 24/7. It’s very difficult to get a spot there so we appreciate any time we can spend there.

Lorraine McMullen
Lorraine McMullen reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on August 31st, 2023


campnab was great letting me know of opening

Tony Martinez
Tony Martinez reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on June 3rd, 2023

Best oceanfront campsites in SD

As San Diego locals, we often stay at South Carlsbad SB, and cannot say enough good things about it. The premium sites are definitely worth the extra cost if you can get them. Clean bathrooms and hot showers, plus a well-stocked camp store. They even have live music on the weekends. The beach is rocky but still amazing, with a fun surf spot directly out front.

Jen Rose
Jen Rose reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 31st, 2023

Beach Camping at South Carlsbad

South Carlsbad is a great spot to beach camp with the family. Most of the sites are large, we fit two motorhomes on ours. The facilities are well taken care of and it's a quick walk down to the beach. The camp store is nice if you forgot something or want to grab a beer and watch the sunset.

Shane Hopkins
Shane Hopkins reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 30th, 2023

Relaxing place

Our stay was a relaxing one. It was quiet at night and during the day, friendly people. The campsites and restrooms were well maintained. The staff was very friendly. It's a nice place to stay.

Rocky Leivan
Rocky Leivan reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 29th, 2023

Our favorite campground

We love South Carlsbad State Beach! Great large camp sites, clean restrooms, camp store, and lots of restaurants within walking distance!

Courtney Tibbets
Courtney Tibbets reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 22nd, 2023

What an incredible experience

Because of Camp Nab we were able to nab a corner ocean view camp spot. It was so special for our family. Thank you Camp Nab! Will definitely use Camp Nap again this summerl

Karen Cook
Karen Cook reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 14th, 2023

campnab is legit

totally helped me get a campsite thanks !!!

violet bombolo
violet bombolo reviewed South Carlsbad SB
on May 9th, 2023


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