Most people - even long time Santa Barbarans - don't even know this beach is here. It is a ways out of the city - 33 miles west of Santa Barbara to be exact. This beach was famous for a brief period of time when a scene from the 2004 movie "Sideways," which was nominated for Best Picture, was filmed here.

  • Amenities: Accessible Features, Boat Hoist (closed), Campground, Fishing Pier (closed) , Hot Springs, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Trails, Train Trestle
  • Activities: Backpacking, Beach Walking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Surfing, Swimming
  • Dog Policy: Dogs not allowed on the beach nor on trails

This is a great beach for the surprise element. You actually have to walk under the train trestle to get to the sand. If the swimming and fishing don't get you, the hike to Gaviota Hot Springs might! The wind can get pretty wild along this stretch of the coast. Gaviota State Park Beach occasionally has wind advisories - this stretch of the coast is famous for it. Except on the hottest of Santa Barbara days, you will probably wear a coat here rather than a swim suit.

Gaviota State Park takes its name from the Spanish word for seagull, given to the area by soldiers of the Portola Expedition who supposedly killed a seagull while camping here in 1769. Marked by a tall Southern Pacific railroad trestle that crosses Gaviota Creek high above the day-use parking lot, the park is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, surf fishing and camping, despite high winds that often blow through the area.

Pier (Closed)

Gaviota State Park Beach has a public fishing pier with a boat hoist. The pier was damaged by a storm and the outer 100 feet of the pier were lost. The pier is closed indefinitely while decision is being made to repair the wood structure or to build a new one out of concrete. The boat hoist is now unavailable which was the only way to access the nearby beaches of Hollister Ranch.


Dirt fire roads and hiking trails lead into more than 2,000 acres of oak woodland and chaparral backcountry. Check with park rangers before starting your hike - conditions change frequently. This is mountain lion country. Safety tips are available from the rangers. Overlook Fire Road is a 3-mile round trip is worth the climb—at the top you are greeted by a sweeping vista of the Channel Islands.


The 41 developed campsites accommodate tents, trailers up to 25 feet and RVs up to 27 feet. Visitors can reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date using Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date - based on availability and the park's maximum stay rules.

Gaviota Hot Springs

From a parking lot about 2.5 miles north of the park entrance, where Highway 1 separates from U.S. High-way 101, a somewhat steep Gaviota Peak Fire Road trail leads to two small sulfur springs which are open to the public.