Destination: Jalama Beach, Santa Barbara County Park
If you’re looking for a hidden RV campground next to a beautiful California beach, then we’ll let you in on a little secret. Jalama Beach County Park is part of Santa Barbara County and is about a 4.5 hour drive south from our Airstream garage in San Jose. Thus, you’d probably want to make this stop a part of your itinerary if you’re doing an Airstream trip for 4 days or more. And believe me, once you get here you’re going to want to stay longer!
This county park is very secluded and tucked away along the coast. To get there, you will need to drive about 30 minutes on some narrow and winding roads. But the trek out to the coast is worth it! Once you get there, there is everything you need to make your rental Airstream your own beach cabin, mainly a large unpopulated beach. For the most part, the only other beach goers here are your fellow campers.
Here’s a quick look at the sites available at Jalama. Most of the sites (indicated in navy) are reservable sites. The walk-ins are indicated in teal. Because this beach park can get quite crowded in the summer, we recommend reserving sites ahead of time. We advise calling in for your reservation since even though their website has a site for online reservations, it requires Flash. After a quick chat with the rangers there, we learned that the “best” sites are 117 and 80-87. We were able to snag site 108 (a walk-in site) since we were there in October. And I have to say those sites at the top have some of the best views! Also all the sites at the top have electrical hook-ups (indicated by the yellow dot). If you’re okay to “rough it” a bit, then the sites at the bottom, 53-64 are right on the beach and the sand is pretty much at your doorstep.
The picture below is of sites 10-14, which is also quite close to the beach (though not on the sand). There is also a dumping station conveniently located near the entrance to the park. So you can dump and refill your Airstream before and/or after your stay or even during your stay if need be. So even though there are no water and sewer connection at each site, at least you can take care of your dumping needs within the park.
Another great thing about this beach park is the Jalama Beach Store, where you can pick up anything you might have forgotten (thus saving you the trek out and back to grab your missing item). The store has everything from personal care products to fishing supplies, and even beer and wine. They also have a famous Jalama burger, which is quite good (but to be honest tastes like any other burger).
This campground is open year around and even in December the temperatures hover around the 70s. Though I wouldn’t recommend swimming during the winter and spring months. In the summer they do have a lifeguard but the water will still be chilly and there are rip currents and high surf to be wary of. But if you’re looking for a beautiful beach getaway, it would be tough to find something better than Jalama.
The only drawback to this RV campground is that there is little to no cell reception or data service. But the park does provide a slow wifi connection that can allow you to check email if need be.
We were lucky to find out about this place from one of our Airstream renters, who even extended their trip because they loved this beach park so much. They were told by their fellow campers to keep this a secret (as were we). But this secret is just too good not to share!