Loved it here!! I have always wanted to camp here and I am so happy that I did. I heard from several people that if you want to camp at San Elijo beach, then you need to book months in advance. To my surprise, I was able to book it a few days in advance for one night. There was also another option available for 2 nights. The check-in time is 2pm and check-out is 12pm, which seemed perfect for us. If you are planning on going in the hot months- July-September, you might want to show up a bit later when it’s cooler- around 6pm would’ve been better. Check-in is fairly simple, you just tell the ranger your name as you drive up and how many cars and that’s it! They give you a sticker to keep on your windshield, which is essentially your pass to park and camp there.
THE PEOPLE: Everyone here is really nice, although I didn’t quite understand the deal with the guy camping next to us who had a table full of lemons. Maybe he was making fresh lemonade?? The best part about this campground is that you can bring your dog to camp with you and they are even allowed on the beach (with a leash of course). Quiet time is 10pm-6am which is kind of funny because the busy street is right by the campground.
AMENITIES: Nice bathrooms, but bring your own soap- theirs is almost always empty. You need tokens for the shower so be sure to buy them at the store before it closes. Each campsite has a picnic table and firepit- great for smores!! The ground is pretty hard. If you don’t have an RV, bring a mattress! The restaurant inside the campground, Bull Taco, is great! The tacos are somewhat small, but cheap, about $1.75 for one with chips. Yum! Whatever you do though, don’t get the shave ice. It’s like grinding up some ice cubes in your refrigerator and adding food coloring to them. As you know from my past posts about shave ice, I’m a bit picky when it comes to this and I apologize if that was a bit too forward. ;P
THE BEACH: Right in front of the beach is a perfect place for surfing, although the waves can be a bit small. Perfect for me though since I’m just learning! I rented a board from the Eli Howard surf school, only $15 for a half day! The guy gave me a huuuggeee board that was a bit over 10′ and very difficult for even a guy to carry. Still fun though! You might want to ask for a smaller board or bring your own.
TIPS: If you want to book several days together, reserve your spot as soon as possible. I found a great site that lets you look at the campsites ahead of time too: click here. Bring plenty of towels and drinks; it gets hot and dirty camping during summer! Bring earplugs. The cars going by and train horns can definitely wake you up at night. Make friends with your neighbors; you never know who you might meet! Feel free to drive in and out of the campgrounds during the day. You can also have people come and visit you for free, but only for 15 minutes. (One car or RV is allowed for free, additional vehicles cost extra.) More info on that sort of thing here: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=662. Watch out for the squirrels. More on that below….
WHEN SQUIRRELS ATTACK: I can’t stress this enough: pack all food in your car or tent. It might not be like real camping in the wilderness, but let me tell you, these squirrels are ruthless. I could have sworn I heard noises around the tent at night and sure enough, when I woke up and looked outside, empty boxes were on the ground. We had forgotten to put our smores ingredients away and the squirrels had opened the graham cracker box and plastic inside to get at the crackers. Our chocolate candy bars were unwrapped and missing- well, that is until out of the corner of my eye I spotted one of the little guys munching on a piece of chocolate right by his burrow. I think he was laughing at me inside… 🙂 Side note though: they don’t like marshmallows. I will definitely be going here again, with squirrel-proof thinking.