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4.5
114 votes

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

928 Pacific Blvd., Oceano, California 93445 USA

Closed Now
Opens Mon 7a
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • Public
    Restrooms
  • No Wifi
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“off-roadin' fun in the sand”

The recreation area is located in Oceano, three miles south of Pismo Beach off Highway 1. One mile south of the Pier Avenue beach ramp is Post 2, a post on the beach which marks the beginning of the off-highway vehicle riding and camping area. OHV's must be transported to this point before unloading. Any areas on the beach or in the dunes that are fenced or signed are closed to vehicular use because they either contain sensitive plant and animal life or are private property.

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Reviews of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

10 people have reviewed this location

Ratings Summary

3.3 Access
4.9 Location
4.3 Cleanliness
4.0 Site Quality
2.3 Noise

Cell Coverage

Verizon 4G

Confirmed by 3 users | Last reported on October 13, 2019

AT&T 4G

Confirmed by 1 users | Last reported on August 27, 2015
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Reviewed by
Campendium

March 12, 2015
Rated

I'm torn on this place. On one hand it's a unique opportunity to pull your trailer right down on the sand and setup camp steps from the ocean. It's beautiful and (off season) relatively peaceful and wide open space. We really enjoyed the experience being from the East Coast where nothing like this exists.

However, there are lots of caveats. For starters, towing on the sand is quite different from driving on the sand. All day long we saw cars that you wouldn't think belonged down there (a Mazda 626, a 80's Benz 300d, a Vanagon) cruising up and down on the packed sand without incident. But then I got stuck twice (dug myself free both times) in a F250 diesel 4x4 trying to pull our airstream off the beach. You should air all the tires down and you must have four wheel drive. It's also advisable to come and go at low tide where there's a wider area of hard sand.

The second reason I may not recommend this place to most folks is that this is a big playground for loud toys. Dune buggies, motorbikes, ATVs, loud trucks, etc. Lots of folks come down for the day to "run what they brung" so it can get busy and loud. Some people were just obnoxious during our stay, but they all cleared out by sundown. And this was March. I can't imagine this place in peak season.

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Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: 999

3 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
2 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon 4G

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Reviewed by
Campendium

August 27, 2015
Rated

Camping on the beach....first you HAVE to air down all your tires including your trailer if you want any chance of making it to a camping spot. Four wheel drive is a must. It's handy to have a friend along that can pull your ass out when you get stuck. FYI, trailers don't turn well in the sand so don't stop until you absolutely like your spot and be prepared to have sand everywhere.

First off I'm going to say that we are duners. Responsible duners. I have a love hate relationship with this place. I love the $10 a night and camping at the beach. Love riding from camp. Love the casual atmosphere of being able to run generators when I want and play music or whoop it up if we want. Great time when we have a group and can make our own little camp with our trailers in a circle.

Hate how crowded it gets. Last trip had an entire tent city set up next to us. Not sure what they were doing about bathrooms, maybe using the sand as a giant litter box. People can ride 24 hours a day. Not much enforcement and not sure if there are any actual rules on noise. Too small of an area for all the riding going on.

This is our least favorite place to ride but it is the closest to our house. Usually only camp here once a year and 4 days on the sand are my max.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 4

Site Number: -

3 Access
4 Location
2 Cleanliness
3 Site Quality
1 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

AT&T 4G

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Reviewed by
Campendium

April 11, 2016
Rated

Maybe only heavy Airstreams get stuck here but we have gotten stuck three times in the sand--twice on this last attempt to camp there. So no more!

Plus there was an abundance of OHV's racing around...not the quiet place we remember from years past. Had to rely on the kindness of strangers to pull us out of the sand, did I say TWICE, this time so we opted to keep right on driving out of the beach and into North Pismo State Campground--a great alternative.

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Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 0

Site Number: 0

1 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
1 Site Quality
1 Noise
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Reviewed by
Campendium

June 21, 2017
Rated

Parking right on the beach just steps from the ocean for $10 a night was a no-brainer for us! While there are other campgrounds in the area, if you truly want to experience Pismo Beach and its sand dunes, we would highly recommend boondocking in this spot!
One of the tricky parts about RVing here is that in order to drive on the sand, you’ll need to air down your tires quite a bit (we took every tire on the truck and fifth wheel down to 20 psi). While this takes some time to do, we had no problem at all getting through the sand. We saw tons of people who didn’t air down (even large 4WD vehicles) get stuck, so don’t chance it. This also meant that once we parked, we stayed. We didn’t drive into town and explore because we didn’t want to keep airing up and down. But we were only there for the weekend so it was no problem.
When we arrived on Friday afternoon, we had plenty of options for parking where we could have ocean views from our doorstep. We enjoyed a quiet evening and a beautiful sunset.
Well, that changed dramatically when we woke up Saturday morning. All the locals piled in wherever they could squeeze their campers and tents, blocking our view and nearly trapping us in. It seemed like everyone had multiple ATV’s and dirtbikes. So all day long, starting super early and ending way past dark, we listened to the humming sounds of them flying past our spot. When walking around the beach, you’d have to be careful not to get in their way. While we missed the peacefulness of Friday, we embraced the craziness and accepted that this was part of the experience. Being that Pismo is the only beach in California that allows this, we understood the craziness. We rented ATVs right on the beach and joined in on the fun!

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Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 3

Site Number: -

5 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
4 Site Quality
2 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon 4G

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Reviewed by
Campendium

February 05, 2018
Rated

As is obvious from the other reviews, it's important that potential visitors know what they're getting when they plan a trip to Oceano Dunes. Arriving and leaving at low tide is MUCH better than at high tide. Knowing whether or not the smallish fresh water creeks are flowing across the beach is also critical.

I pull a 3,000 lb trailer with a 2WD car, and I got stuck twice (even with all tires aired down to about 17 psi), but I knew I probably would and was prepared with front tow hooks and a buddy with a big 4WD truck with wide off-road tires. If it's at all busy there are several people who are willing to help tow stuck vehicles and trailers out of the soft sand. You can also call the "Jerk Pirates" for free assistance (!). Otherwise it's Kautz Towing, the only vendor licensed by the State to provide an official tow, with prices reflecting that.

This place has a great "anything goes" vibe to it. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of various off-road vehicles are buzzing up and down the beach and around the campsites, so if noise isn't your thing don't come here. We rented some ATVs and had an absolute blast. There is a real friendly camaraderie among campers here. I'd recommend everyone try Ocean Dunes at least once, but I recognize that some would probably never come back.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: -

1 Access
5 Location
3 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
1 Noise
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Reviewed by
Campendium

October 13, 2019
Rated

No major amenities, and not many restrictions. Well patrolled and protected, was not aware of beach camping here until our visit. Awesome experience, and would camp here again. Had a 4dr Jeep and took it out on the dunes for a bit. Overall we enjoyed it and would do it again, loved hearing the ocean while we slept.
.
Tread lightly, play nice with others, and keep it clean if you want to be able to use this place in the future.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 1

Site Number: 0

5 Access
5 Location
4 Cleanliness
4 Site Quality
3 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon 4G

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Reviewed by
Campendium

January 14, 2020
Rated

This is a fantastic place but you need to plan when to go & leave. High tides can make both very dodgy, as large portions of the beach can be swamped with tidal surge. Rangers will advise best & worst time. Also, it can be a gong show on holidays & weekends. Only 1000 permits are issued for each day, and while that sounds like a lot, the cutoff always causes a lot of disappointment. I had to wait till after New Years Day to get in.
Be sure to camp well above the tide line to avoid high surges. I picked a spot within a short walk of one of the potties.Wind can be an problem, so most veterans bring boards to block the wind.. I used my car as a block.
When the weather is clear & calm, this is one of the best places anywhere to camp. Beach walks, bird watching, and especially star gazing are some of the best I have ever seen. I got an amazing photo of Venus with a long lens, and plan to go back for more.
If you like FRESH seafood, go to the market on Avila Beach Pier, about 10 miles north of Grover Beach. I bought a live crab for about $20, and cooked it up at the camp site. I had planned ahead, and brought my crab pot, crackers, garlic butter and a lovely Pinot Grigio, to wash it down. In the morning, the Seagull cleanup crew had removed all evidence that a crab had ever been there!!

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: -

5 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
5 Noise
Photo of Campendium

Reviewed by
Campendium

March 19, 2020
Rated

This is absolutely one of my favorite places to camp for a few days (when the weather permits). You must make a reservation, I called the main number to make mine. Upon arrival to the main gate, the guard was super helpful and made me feel very comfortable and safe - like it was going to be a good time (and it was!!).

First, your driving on sand. DEFLATE your tires, idc what anyone else says, it’s worth the time and saves the embarrassment of getting stuck. There is a small stream to drive through, which is practically a river at high tide. Yes there are tons of people around who are capable of towing you out, but the people mentioned in these reviews are pretty much tow truck drivers, so be prepared to give a little something If you do need some assistance. It’s common courtesy anyway, they are there to help you. If you need to drop your trailer once your at your site and don’t have a pump, the store right at the entrance offers air for $1.

Second, try to arrive anytime between mon- thurs. I arrived on a Thursday evening, and thank almighty I did, because once Friday came around people packed in there so fast I couldn’t figure out how, why and where everyone came from. It was no issue for me, I love the crowds, however if you think your reserving a quiet night at the beach front Bellagio hotel, you are mistaken.

Lastly, They allow up to 1,000 reservations at any given time and this is primarily for people with toy haulers, atvs, etc. so expect to hear them zipping around at least until 10pm. Then the peaceful crackling of everyone’s fire pits at night. If you don’t have one, RENT ONE!!! It’s definitely worth the money, thrill and spectacular views of the sand dunes. There are plenty of business to rent from on the beach. I will be back, no doubt.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 3

Site Number: N/a

3 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
3 Noise

Reviewed by
Teresa Barajas

  • 13 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
December 20, 2017
Rated

The most riveting part of our trip was our ride through the sand dunes on Pismo beach Driving in our Dune Buggy through golden, soft sand was an experience I’ll never forget. The location was wide, allowing us to move around almost aimlessly. The ride is exhilarating, driving up and down sand dunes without fear of falling. Our rental location Sun Buggy Fun Rentals equipped us with all the safety gear we needed, such as helmets and head socks to protect us from sand. The Dune Buggy we used was in great condition and the maps we were given were informative, we didn’t even get lost once.

Although winter might not seem like the prime time for riding through San Dunes, the beach fog was a beautiful backdrop to our thrilling ride. This location had amazing costumer service and we would recommend it for any first time sand dune riders (just like us) who might have any hesitations. The staff are all tremendously helpful and will give you all the tools and tips you need to have a fun and safe experience.

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Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

928 Pacific Blvd.
Oceano, California
93445 USA
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Hours

Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 7:00 am - 11:00 pm

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  • Check
    Parking
  • Check
    Pets Allowed
  • Check
    Restrooms
  • Unavailable
    Wifi
  • Unavailable
    Wheelchair Accessible
  • Unknown
    Credit Cards Accepted
Affiliation
State park or forest
Last Nightly Rate
10.0
Lowest Nightly Rate
10.0
Longest Vehicle Length Reported
34.0
  • Unavailable
    Laundry
  • Unavailable
    Propane
  • Unavailable
    Showers
  • Unavailable
    Big Rigs
  • Check
    Boondock
  • Unavailable
    Firewood
  • Unavailable
    Fifty Amp
  • Check
    Tent Sites
  • Unavailable
    Cabin Sites
  • Unavailable
    Full Hookup
  • Unavailable
    Paved Sites
  • Unavailable
    Dump Station
  • Unavailable
    Mobile Homes
  • Unavailable
    Public Water
  • Unavailable
    Pull Through
  • Check
    Reservations
  • Unavailable
    Sewer Hookup
  • Unavailable
    Water Hookup
  • Unavailable
    Age Restricted
  • Check
    Rec Facilities
  • Check
    Dispersed Sites
  • Unavailable
    Open Seasonally
  • Unavailable
    Permit Required
  • Unavailable
    Group Tent Sites
  • Unavailable
    Fulltime Residents
  • Check
    Standard Tent Sites
  • Unavailable
    Pull Through RV Sites
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