Jalama County Beach, Lompoc, California

We have been wanting to camp at Jalama Beach for years, but the first come, first served scenario of landing a site never appealed to us. California beaches can be some of the most difficult places in the country to get reservations, so trying to snag a first come site almost three hours from our home was not a way we wanted to go. Recently, we heard that Jalama was offering reservations, and sure enough, they have joined a reservation system through the County of Santa Barbara. We managed to snag someone's cancellation for a beautiful summer weekend. Jalama is an isolated beach between Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Not visible from the 101, you must exit the 101 and take a portion of Highway 1 towards Jalama Road. Highway 1 is known for being curvy and treacherous in parts;
luckily that is not the case here. Jalama Road, the only road in and out of Jalama Beach is, however, winding, with hairpin turns, little to no shoulder and many coast live oaks with overhanging (and in need of a pruning on our visit) branches. Go slowly and carefully along this road. The positive side, there is little traffic along this road and you are not dealing with the logging trucks that you often find along Highway 1 further north.
The beach offers day use and camping, both of which are very busy during weekends and summer months. Plan on getting a reservation, even though a few sites remain first come, first served. The campground has paved interior roads group sites, a store with limited groceries, beer and wine, and is home to the World Famous Jalama Burger at the Jalama Beach Store & Grill. This burger is truly fantastic and rivals my top burger pick. The store and grill open early for breakfast and close fairly early (around 6pm), so it's busiest time is noon to early afternoon.
Sites generally are not private, offer no shade, and have a fire pit and picnic table. Sites here vary from paved, to dirt, to sand, depending on location. Sites up the tiered hillside are paved and narrower than many sites closer to the beach. These sites, however, offer spectacular views and water and electric hookups, a nice asset at a CA beach! Sites in the main area of the campground are either dirt or sand with no hookups. The beachfront sites are at a premium here, and give you immediate access to the beach and some spectacular sunsets. Sites 1-9 and 17-51 are the most cramped, crowded and noisy during peak season. Often, it is difficult to tell where one campsite ends and the other begins with the number of cars and tents packed into each site. Both nights of our stay we were approached by people hoping to pay us to camp in our spot with us since we "had room."  The atmosphere is fun and lively, so if you are looking for a peaceful getaway, this is not your place, at least during peak season.

Best Sites: 10-16, 53-64, 80-87, 105, 117
Poor Sites: 1-9, 17-51
Hookups: Electric & Water
Potable Water: Yes
Dump within Facility: Yes


Anonymous said…
Been camping here for years and yes it is difficult to get in! We used to have to take a gamble and do the long drive back and forth to try and get a spot. Hopefully the new reservation system will make it easier. This place is really worth all the hassle to get in. Very relaxing. Park rangers are great and really help if you get in a "situation" with another camper ie noise issues.