San Luis Obispo Beaches.
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10 BEST San Luis Obispo Beaches

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Wait, are there beaches in San Luis Obispo?!

Kinda—Although San Luis Obispo might not be directly on the coast, that doesn’t mean it lacks beaches. There are some incredible spots just a short drive away that will fulfill your beaching needs and more.

From beaches to simply relax on and soak up the sun, to those with epic tide pools teeming with life and great waves to take out a surfboard, there is something for everyone. These are our favorites!

1. Olde Port Beach

16 minutes from SLO

With limited services and facilities, Olde Port Beach makes for a great escape from some of the busier beaches in the Avila Beach area.

It is one of the best beaches near San Luis Obispo to relax at, sitting in a sheltered cove with white sands and easy access.

People taking a walk up and down Olde Port Beach on an overcast day with a view of mountains in the distance.
Olde Port Beach is pretty big!

There is even vehicle access for those who want to launch a boat, although it is best that you bring a 4-wheeled drive if you want to attempt this.

In the summer, you might find a food truck nearby, and the provided firepits become a hub for social gatherings and family trips.

Dogs are allowed on this beach as long as they are well-behaved, making Olde Port Beach a lovely beach for all to enjoy.

2. Fisherman’s Beach

16 minutes from SLO

Although it is one of the smaller beaches in Avila, Fisherman’s Beach has a hidden charm. Due to being at the very end of Avila Beach Drive, it is often uncrowded and peaceful.

An empty Fishermen's Beach with blue Pacific water on an overcast day.
An empty Fishermen’s Beach.

You’ll find kayak rentals nearby so you can go and explore the shores around the beach and take in the coast from a different angle.

Once you head back from a day out on the kayak, why not have an evening sitting around the campfire with a few smores?

3. Avila Beach Park

15 minutes from SLO

With fire pits, BBQs, and picnic tables, Avila Beach Park is for those who want to eat al fresco with a view to die for.

With the ocean on one side and the San Luis Obispo hills on the other, the views don’t get much better than this.

Tourists enjoying their day on Avila Beach Park on a sunny day while a few people surf in the ocean.
Avila Beach Park is a popular beach option!

The beach also features a long promenade and pier, giving proper beachy town vibes, and plenty of sun keeps visitors coming back for more.

4. Pirates Cove Beach

15 minutes from SLO

Let’s be honest: If you hear of a beach named Pirates Cove, you’re going to want to check it out! Or is that just us?

Although the beach is beautiful and home to a cool sea cave, a word of warning so you don’t get a shock, this is a nudist beach. All are welcome, so come clothed or join them if that’s your thing.

A beautiful golden sunset over Pirate Cove Beach with two sail boats anchored off the coast and villas along the coastline.
A semi-hidden Pirate’s Cove Beach.

The cave is well worth checking out, at 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide, it is very impressive and easy to get to via a trail. There is also a rock arch to admire for even more cool rock formations.

The beach itself is a nice sheltered place to relax, with a few small tide pools and a little less wind than other beaches in the area, so it is up to you if you want to chill, explore, or a bit of both!

TIP: It is one of the best beaches around San Luis Obispo for sunsets.

5. Pismo Beach (Our Fav Beach Near San Luis Obispo)

16 minutes from SLO

If you are a beach lover, you won’t be disappointed with the incredible coastline that is Pismo Beach.

There are tons of beaches in the Pismo Beach area, but this particular beach is the northernmost, starting in the vibrant town and stretching down into Grover Beach, with white sands the entire way.

Golden hour light shining over tourists on Pismo Beach boardwalk.
Sunset over Pismo Beach boardwalk.

Its proximity to the town makes it an easy beach to visit, and you can stay as long as you want, popping downtown whenever you need a snack or break from beach life and walking along the boardwalk.

Aside from relaxing and watching the surf (it’s a hard life, I know)—Pismo Beach has tons of recreational activities. Whether hiking the dunes that back the beaches nearby or exploring in an all-terrain vehicle, clam digging, or beach combing, there is plenty of choice.

A surfer on the waves besides the pier at Pismo Beach.
Pismo Beach is great for surfing.

TIP: The water is freezing, so you might want to choose a warm day if you’re planning for a paddle, or don’t forget your wetsuit.

We also love the campgrounds here. The beach is in your backyard!


READ MORE: 16 BEST Things To Do in Pismo Beach


6. Cayucos Beach

25 minutes from SLO

Located in front of Cayucos, this beach is a favorite for locals and visitors.

The old wooden fishing pier is the real highlight here, jutting into the ocean it is not only a fishing hotspot, but also offers unparalleled views of the surrounding hills, and even the towering Morro Rock in the distance.

A few tourists enjoying the day on Cayucos State Beach in the sun.
A great spot to catch some sun!

Surfers flock to the beach to hit the waves, while those who love nature can peek in the tide pools or just soak up the laid-back vibes. As a dog-friendly beach, your furry friend can come along too.

7. Moonstone Beach in Cambria

40 minutes from SLO

Sink your toes into the soft sand or take a quiet walk along the famous one-mile boardwalk, Moonstone Beach is pretty special.

Moonstone Boardwalk trailing off across the coastline of Big Sur.
The boardwalk is awesome for an evening stroll.

The views as you walk are beautiful, and if you are really lucky, you’ll see playful otters or whales breaking the waves in the distance.

Although Moonstone Beach is most well known for its boardwalk, that’s far from the only way to spend a day on this beautiful stretch of coast.

Two people sitting on a bench overlooking Moonstone Beach in San Simeon State Park.
Views over Moonstone Beach.

Colorful tide pools are waiting for exploration, waves waiting for surfers and plenty of places nearby to grab a bite.


RELATED: 14 BEST Things to Do in Cambria


8. Montana de Oro—Spooner’s Cove

28 minutes from SLO

Spooners Cove is a wild beach in Montana De Oro State Park, offering advanced surfing, fun kayaking opportunities, and a beautiful sandy beach.

It is the perfect beach near San Luis Obispo to explore the tide pools at low tide and enjoy a picnic.

Flock of birds on a beach on a foggy day in Montaña de Oro State Park.
Beaches in Montana de Oro are popular… for some.

This sandy stretch allows you to escape the crowds, explore the dunes, and hike for miles along the sand.

Sitting in Montana de Oro State Park, it is easy to combine a beach trip with a full day out exploring this 8,000-acre park.

Yellow wildflowers on the edge of the cliffs of Montaña de Oro State Park.
Check out the local wildflowers!

There are eucalyptus groves, tide pools, huge dunes, and multiple hiking or biking trails. (Try the Valencia Peak Trail if you are up for a bit of a challenge).

9. Morro Strand State Beach (Most Impressive Beach Near San Luis Obispo)

19 minutes from SLO

If you are looking for a sandy paradise, Morro Strand State Beach is where it’s at. Spend a lazy day watching the surfers out on the water, chilling on the dunes, and observing wildlife.

The beach stretches for three long miles, the windswept shore curving gently from Morro Bay to Cayucos, meaning there is plenty of room for everyone to lay down a towel and take in this piece of untouched nature.

Morro Rock on a sunny day at Morro Rock Strand State Beach while people stroll past in California.
So much room for activities!

If you can’t tear yourself away from this beautiful beach, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are campsites and RV facilities for a spot of coastal camping so that you can wake up just a short walk from the crashing waves and impressive views of Morro Rock.

It’s not all about relaxing though. The beach provides the perfect environment for surfing and fishing. There are picnic tables and BBQ grills, exposed rocks for tide pooling, and many species for bird watching.

Two people ocean kayaking very close up to Morro Rock.
Why not take a kayak out to get up close and personal?

Out of all the beaches near San Luis Obsipo, this one is hands down the most impressive in our opinion. Morro Rock truly is something else, and this beach has everything you can imagine.


RELATED: 16 BEST Things to Do in Morro Bay


10. South Palisades

13 minutes from SLO

South Palisades Beach is a pretty wild beach complete with rocks, bluffs, and tan sand. Although amenities are rather limited, you can use the picnic tables and walking paths for a classical Californian day on the coast, no matter the weather.

A pathway snaking down the coastline of South Palisades Park with a well groomed grassy area and palm trees either side.
The perfect pathway for a walk or run.

Trails can be found on the blufftop park or down on the sand, and access is easy from the parking lot via a dedicated path.

It isn’t the most beautiful of beaches near San Luis Obispo, so don’t expect fine gold sands that stretch for miles, but there are some cool rock formations to explore and tide pools at low tide.

Stairs with metal railings leading down towards the tidepools of South Palisades Park.
Stairs leading down to the tidepools.

In fact, you can walk down to Spyglass Beach for a long beach walk, where you’ll find even more tidepools to wander around. We got lost here for ages, just looking down the whole time!

If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you will love this beach, seals, sea lions and dolphins are often spotted near the shore, and if you are really lucky, you may even see a crazy cute sea otter!

We hope this helped you find the best beaches around San Luis Obispo for your next trip!

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