Another hidden jewel of a military campground. Large recreation area with plenty of beach on the Pacific Ocean.
San Onofre Recreation Beach
Type of site
$65 - $85
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02 Aug - 05 Aug 2018
June 23-25, 2017
Sept. 26-29, 2016
March 1, 2015
Sept. 27, 2015
The men's and women's bathrooms were filthy when we checked in on Sun. 9/27. There was no toilet paper in any of the stalls, the trash was over flowing, and feces were on the floors. The RV sites, surrounding roads, bathrooms, and laundry facility are in serious need of repair and maintenance. Our power box was surrounded by several large holes and the front cover had been torn off of its hinges. The office staff were very pleasant and helpful and the views and location of this facility are amazing. We paid $35 per night for water and electric but no sewer hook up. This is top dollar for a military facility. The RV park is frequently sold out on weekends creating a substantial cash flow for the MWR fund. Why isn't this money being used to maintain this crumbling facility? Please hire a Camp Host to help supervise the RV park and address after hours issues regarding excessive noise, loose dogs, leaking faucets, etc.
This is difficult because, like all good things, my favorite place is being loved to death. The environmental degradation is obvious. The sand and beach sites are permeated with fragments of plastic fringes from toys, pieces of candy wrappers, juice pack straws. Instead of using the beach, I saw parents digging away huge chunks of the berm to make play areas. Apparently it is a trend, erosion be darned. The lack of environmental concern is concerning. We watched kids tear down the shrubbery from the adjacent state park to bring back into the base to make campfires. Management are into groups because they are profitable, and they are many. The parking and traffic resembles any popular Southern California beach on weekend evenings. On the weekends and holidays, some regular sites had 20 occupants. This, of course, has had an impact on the facilities. Nevertheless, the location is spectacular and the beach can be empty during the week. Beach sites are discounted $8/night from November through March. Hospitality shines, cleanliness is taxed by the crowds. The beach sites are scheduled (once again) to be closed for renovation in January. Word is that the remaining vegetation will be taken out to squeeze in more spaces, which can't be good.
This is our favorite West Coast campground. Super convenient, adjacent to everything, on an iconic Southern California surfing beach. It can get hectic during holidays but during the off-season it is Valhalla. This is especially true for the beach sites. We stayed the limit twice with no discount whatsoever, $35/night despite relentless attempts at bartering, last winter and spring on two stays culminating with the New Years or Easter holiday. Beach sites do not offer sewer (duh - beach) but offer weekly drainage service for $10. Sites across the street from the beach with full hookups are like living on a main street with a beautiful view. Traffic is surprisingly plentiful but unnoticeable from beachfront sites. The bluff sites are close, very close, you will get to know your neighbor, but the views are spectacular and the traffic unnoticeable. Any other site is like camping on I-5, seriously, literally on I-5, with a high speed rail line for a buffer. The staff is nice and accommodating, but it is difficult to understand the placement system since one cannot reserve a particular site. We came back once from a day out to find a neighbor right next to us on an otherwise empty beach. We were also scheduled to move a couple of times, but they worked it out and we did not have to move. We did, however, ask to be moved to the north end of the beach during the King Tide, and they could not have been more accommodating. Considering the mega-campgrounds in San Diego where campers cannot fully extend their awnings without intruding in their neighbors' space for $70/night, and the CA state campgrounds that charge $60 for "premium" beach sites, San Onofre is a bargain. It has indoor and outdoor showers, two laundry rooms, a workout area, a commissary and exchange, gas station, and a library hidden in plain sight off the freeway near San Clemente, and it has the beach. The beach is alive with dolphins, avians, seals, whales, amphibians - the Marines landed one morning, views of Santa Catalina on clear days, and the entertaining antics of surfers, many of whom we got to know as they walked between beaches. The Marine gate guards are polite, respectful, and make entry uncomplicated. It really is a fabulous place.
Fabulous place! When we called the reservation system they had a special price deal going on and we paid only $20 a night. The RV sites are literally on the beach (I'm not kidding) and also directly across a small street from the beach. You can toss a rock into the surf from most of the sites. We loved this place.
I love the place, the location is awesome, well maintained. The downside is there terrible phone systems & reservations system. When you finally get a hold of someone they totally ignore the comments about their phone system and take care of you, it's the dozens of phone calls though looping phone recordings. This has been going on for over a year. Their website & facebook page don't have a email address as an alternative way to contact them. So fustrated, I am looking for other locations that care more about the customers.
June 7, 2012
R.D. left this review using the Directory software: - Great view. Price is way too high for a military base. Numerous pot holes. Some RV space are narrow. Great view.
The review ratings lump Cleanliness and hospitality into one category, and they aren't even similar. Cleanliness: the bathrooms are unheated, essentially open-air, and really, REALLY need some help. Just go in, do your thing, don't think about it, and get out. Hospitality: these people love living in Southern California, and it shows. I was very happy with the staff. Location: the entire coast from (Long Beach) Seal Beach to San Diego is a very enjoyable train ride (or drive) from San Clemente. San Clemente is only about a three-mile drive. The campground would benefit from a small camp store, but the commissary and exchange and Firestone and gas are but a mile up the road. I really, REALLY would like to see MWR put out the $$ for wifi. Everyone uses wifi for everything these days and to NOT have it is ....well...stifling. The first two times we were there, a man and wife team delivered firewood (fire rings provided, every site), $20 per "unit". In June 2012, they had no supplier, and deliveries were not available. The train goes by at the east side of the campground about 2,000 times per day, but you rarely hear it. Bottom line: we go back every chance we get, to escape the heat of Palm Springs. We stay right on the beach (or we won't go); there is NO sewer hook-up on the beach-front sites. Not a problem; they come by on Thursdays and pump you out, and you don't even have to be there - $10.00. We really like this place!
Just left there a few days ago. The previous reviewer is absolutely correct about all their comments. We were there for 2 weeks & were lucky enough not to have to move, but several of our neighbors did. The couple next door had to move 3 spots over, but no one ever occupied the spot they moved from while they were there. The views are beautiful, but the beach itself is nothing to brag about. There are tons of rocks- if you want to go in the water bring some kind of shoes that can get wet. The road from the base is closed & you have to go thru the State Park entrance, It only takes about 10 minutes to get to the Basilone Rd gate at the base. There is a small commissary & exchange there. The main gate is about half an hour from there & it has a huge commissary & new exchange. Take the freeway. The roads on the campground are a disgrace. There are so many potholes & if it rains or there is a really bad tide, they stayed filled with water for a week. We didn't use the restrooms, but did use the laundry. It's $1 for a wash or dry. It was clean & there are 3 of each. The people in the office were very nice every time I stopped in there. The sites with the palm trees are definitely not level, most people had the front of their RVs on blocks. They are also quite narrow, so if you have a big rig with slides, you'll have to put the picnic table at the back of the site. I'm not sure about the ones at the north end, didn't really look at the leveling. They were also narrow tho. The previous reviewer was right, the grounds definitely need some attention. We were on the East Coast last year, stayed at plenty of military beach locations & this is by far the most expensive military site we have stayed on. Yes this has a nice view, but so did they & I really can't see any reason why this would be so much.
May 8, 2012
Being right on the beach is a huge plus. The employees are friendly but the reservation system and policies are ridiculous. I can guarantee that ANYTIME you call for reservations, you will be on hold for 10 to 45 minutes & don't try to reserve a site even 1 day before your alloted lead time. Check in is at 1 pm for camping, 3 pm for the "cottages". DO NOT try to check in even 5 minutes early even if your site is empty. Of course, you won't know if it is empty as they'll not tell you what site you are in until you check in. If you have to move from one site to another during your stay, you may not be able to find out where you will be moving & have to check out at noon but not be able to move into the next site- even if empty- til 1. This has happened to us numerous times. Once we moved 1 whole space & that space had been empty the entire time we were there so we could have been in that one to begin with & not had to move. We have been coming here for 6 years, & my parents came her over 30 years ago. There has been very little maintenance or updating in the last 30 years. In the last 6 years, they have put a nice childs' play area on the beach and on one the bluff. They have not done any road repair & the roads are in horrendous shape. The blacktop sites are very old, unlevel, have large holes & cracks. There used to be gravel between the hardtop sites, now there is mostly weeds. It is obvious that they have not done any weed abatement or cutting this year. The weeds are full of foxtails which is not good for the dogs. There is no grassy area for dogs or kids & dogs aren't allowed on the beach. There is a large dirt/weed field that is called a ballfield. Dogs are not allowed on the field but on summer weekends, it is filled with tents. We've never seen anyone actually play ball on it. Note that they say they have 23 camper/tent spaces & some overflow. What is not mentioned is that they have a couple group camping areas plus the ball field which are often rented to non military groups and add at least 100 additional tents on busy weekends. A couple years ago there were some extremely high tides & much of the beach was washed out at the north end of the campground. The large shade covers on the beach were all removed & have not been replaced. The main road was washed out at that time & has been closed off & on since (it's closed now) so there is no direct access to the base. Of course, the rates continue to increase with no improvement in the facilities. With the exception of the beach location, this place is an embarrassment to the Marine Corps.
June 30th, 2011
THE ROAD IS FIXED AND YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO ENTER THROUGH THE SAN ONOFRE STATE PARK ENTRANCE!! California beach camping doesn't get any better than this if you like the beach at your doorstep. It's hard for me and my family to go any place else because it just doesn't compare. If you want a beach front site where you're literally on the beach or if you would rather be back off the beach a little, you have the choice (beach sites go fast). The bluff sites on top have spectacular views of the ocean as well. For as crowded as the facility gets because of its popularity, it's clean. I would rather tell everyone this is a horrible place to camp so it wouldn't be so hard to get in but I just can't. For peak times, you really do have to be right on it if you want a spot. It fills up fast in the summer and on holiday weekends. It's close to EVERYTHING if you want to make a day trip someplace in So. Cal. Commissary is right up the street and so is the exchange and the gas station. It's also close to freeway entrance to the 5 freeway. This is seriously the best military camping spot around if you love the beach. My only complaint is this- The reservation policy is ridiculous at times and very hard to get if you don't call the day you're allowed according to your military status. I hate that you're allowed to sponsor up to 3 spots. I feel this allows too many non-military folks to utilize the park which leaves no space available for the people it was designed for - MILITARY PERSONNEL AND THEIR FAMILIES. I would say 75% of the people in the park camping are not military and are there as a guest. So 2 out of 3 campsites are non military guest most of the time. I am guilty of using the sites for friends as well because you become everyone's best friend once they know you have access to such a great place to camp but we are always on site with them. I don't think they police this policy to make sure the host is actually there with the guest they check in. I would definitely support a change if they did decide to change this policy and allow 1 guest versus 2 like most other military camping facilities still do. This would free up the spots and make the awful task of getting a spot here a little easier. Also, a word to the folks who camp in tents and for those who throw up extra tents on their sites along with your RV. There is a 10 dollar per night fee for each additional tent. I think that is high. So if you have 5 tents on your site, the first one is the main tent and the other 4 you have to pay 10 bucks each for. That's an additional 40 buck per night for your site!!! Most people are not aware of that especially if you have all tents on your site. So, there you have it. I still love this place and go back every chance I get. Love it.
22 August - 23 August 2011
Great location, great beach. The reservation policy for Camp Pendleton beaches is ridiculous. Other than that, staying here is better than staying at Del Mar.
April 17- May 7, 2011
We loved it being from Arizona. The cost could have been lower being a military facility but being compared to the civilian it was the same as Good Sam. I would like to have warned about the open air showers lol. I survived. I paid to much for the washing machine no sign live and learn. Other than that sitting and watching God's nature at its finest was the best 2 weeks ever. The Warners, Tuscon AZ
May 2-8, 2011
Above directions are incorrect due to road problems. You do get off the freeway at Basilone Rd but turn WEST (toward the ocean) & follow the blue & white signs to the beach & RV Park. They raised the rates AGAIN!!! Last year there were 2 rates, one for military, one for guests. The military rate is gone, we all get to pay the guest rate. Isn't that special. The main road to the Beach Club is washed out. Part of the beach washed out last year. Most of the beach pavilions were removed last year due to beach problems. They could have been moved but they were just Removed. On the positive side, they have "sort of" filled some potholes that have been around for over 5 years & they have put a sun shade on the beach children's playground and repaired the upper playground. As for the rest of the facilities, there has been only minimal maintenance in over 5 years. Weeds, burs & foxtails abound- great for the dogs. It really isn't very dog friendly as dogs are allowed on your campsite & the road only. There is a weed field called a ball field (in over 5 yrs have yet to see a ball of any kind on the field) but dogs aren't allowed. They are also not allowed on the beach. We do come here because of the ocean & because it is close for a quick trip. If the Air Force Bases north of LA were closer, we'd go there as they are nicer & much cheaper.
April 11-15 2011
A challenge to find due to the main access wash out due to heavy rains. Once in the campground hospitality was very good and had no problem getting to our site. Old section, full hookups, across a road from the beach. The area was quiet except for the freeway noise in the background and train traffic behind the campsites. Other areas in the site would have been quieter but not with the full hookups. Well maintained and convenient to base facilities. we'll do it again.