Refugio State Beach is unique among Santa Barbara beaches. Many locals find that they come here over other beaches closer to town. Refugio State Beach is a state park located about twenty miles from Santa Barbara. It just feels different than the rest. It might be the abundance of picnic tables and grills or maybe its all the quirky little palms that dot the thin strip of border grass. It could also be the campground that bumps right against the beach. Who knows for sure, but this beach is worth the drive from the city.

  • Amenities: Accessible Features, Benches, Campground, Grass Park, Lifeguard, Paved Bike Path, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Store, Tide Pools
  • Activities: Biking, Camping, Fishing, Kayaking, Picnicking, Surfing
  • Dog Policy: No dogs allowed on the beach

Refugio State Beach is 1.5 miles of beach that offers plenty of sand and surf. If you feel adventuresome, this is a great beach for diving and snorkeling. Hiking and biking trails round out the list of things to do while here. The south-facing sandy beach is partially protected by a cove with grass and palm trees. Lifeguards are on duty seasonally. Kayaking tours are offered in the summer months. At low tide there are tide pools to explore at both ends of the Refugio cove. Starting at the park entrance there is a three mile-long paved bike trail that connects Refugio State Beach to nearby El Capitan State Beach. If you want to go hiking, consider visiting El Capitan where there are long inland trails.


A 66-site family campground and three group sites are close to the beach. All three group campsites at Refugio State Beach allow RVs up to 30 or 35 feet. A minimum of 9 people are needed to reserve a group site. There are no RV hookups. Reserve campsites well in advance. Campground facilities include restrooms with flush toilets, showers, fire ring, picnic table, store, and laundry.


Refugio State Beach is a 22 mile drive west from downtown Santa Barbara on the 101 freeway. After passing El Capitan State Beach look for the Refugio Road sign. Take Exit 120 at Refugio Road and turn toward the ocean.