This is a beautiful beach that fronts a large and popular campground. It's not the biggest beach in town, and rocks are plentiful, but it still has plenty of sand, and the level of privacy is delicious. Since it is away from the city there is a sense of getting away, even though you didn't travel very far. One of the favorite aspects of this park is how true to Southern California it is in many ways. There are more live oaks than palm, more chaparral than ice plant. You might even be able to find some cactus if you looked. In addition to a sandy beach, El Capitan State Beach offers visitors tide pools, trees along El Capitan Creek, swimming, fishing, picnicking, whale watching (from the bluffs) and lots of camping. Surfers ride the right hand break on the east side of the point when conditions are right.
- Amenities: Accessible Features, BBQs, Campground, Paved Bike Path, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Store, Tide Pools, Trails, Train Trestle
- Activities: Beach Walking, Biking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking, Surfing, Swimming, Whale Watching
- Dog Policy: Dogs not allowed on the beach
El Capitan State Beach is also a campground so there are plenty of facilities. This also means you have to pay a per-car entrance fee. It's good all day or if you go for just 20 minutes. There's not a lot of "entertainment," as far as volleyball or rollerblading go. However, if you're looking for swimming, surfing, or sunning, this is the place to go. Facilities include showers, restrooms, picnic tables and grills, a general store on weekends, and abundant (paid) parking.
The 130+ site El Capitan State Beach family campground is open all year. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring with a grill; restrooms with hot showers are nearby. Several sites are paved for RVs only. Some sites accommodate trailers and recreational vehicles up to 42 feet in length. Five group camping areas, accommodating 40-100 people, overlook the ocean from the marine terrace
Immediately across the highway is the privately owned El Capitan Canyon resort. Situated on 300 acres of canyon wilderness, El Capitan Canyon offers a camping experience with enough modern conveniences to satisfy travelers who would rather just semi-rough it. Guests stay in cabins, tents, or yurts; only cabins have en-suite bathrooms. All accommodations have electricity and wooden floors. El Capitan Canyon provides the fun and adventure of camping but with many of the comforts of a hotel.
Take the 101 Freeway 20 miles north of downtown Santa Barbara until you reach the El Capitan State Beach signs. Depart the freeway at Exit 117 and turn toward the ocean. The road will take you right into the park.