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Port San Luis Harbor Campground - Avila Beach , CA

Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 12:15pm by Lolo
305 miles and 6 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Lazy Daze at Port San Luis Harbor CampgroundLazy Daze at Port San Luis Harbor CampgroundWe were headed north again on our way back to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the unseasonably cold temperatures, big winds, and even rain had forced us to switch gears in Southern California. Rather than beaching and kayaking, we spent our time visiting museums and just generally sightseeing instead. At least we knew a lot more about where we would like to go and what we would like to do on future trips in hopefully better weather.

One stop we had briefly made on our drive down the coast was the town of Avila Beach, just 10 miles southwest of San Luis Obispo. It was written up in the guidebooks as a great beach town, with a beautiful sandy beach on San Luis Obispo Bay, nearby natural mineral hot springs to soak in, and a climate less foggy than most because it faces south into the ocean. In fact, before we left on this trip, I had tried to make a reservation at the Avila Hot Springs Spa and RV Park, only to find that the campground was temporarily closed for renovations.

While there, we drove to the end of the cove to the Port San Luis Wharf, which is an active and bustling commercial fishing base. To our surprise, just near the end of Avila Beach Drive we found two small turnouts with RVs camping right on the beach. We stopped to talk to one camper who told us this was one of the few spots on the California coast that you could actually camp this close to the beach, and he added, it was not written up in any of the campground guides. He was right. I checked afterwards. It was a bit of a well-kept secret, and he didn’t look particularly happy about sharing this information. Right now there were only a couple of RVs camping, as it was mid-week and the weather was really pretty cold, but I can imagine that on a warm weekend this place fills up fast.

Anyway, to make a long story short, on our drive back up the coast we came back here to camp for the night. Too bad it was so cold. We literally had to wear the down jackets we brought for the Yosemite portion of our trip. The furthest I got outside was to the self-registration box to deposit our $40 camping fee.

By the time that was done, it was already dark, but the view out our back window of the twinkling lights along the wharf made me happy.


Avila Beach is located on San Luis Obispo Bay, just 10 miles southwest of the town of San Luis Obispo. Its major attraction is its beautiful sandy shoreline, protected waters, and lovely climate. Since it faces south into the ocean, its gets less fog than any other stretch of coastline in the area.

The Port San Luis Wharf, at the far end of the cove, is a base for commercial fishing boats, who dock each day to unload their catch. Fresh seafood can be gotten from several food shacks and fish markets on the pier. A colony of sea lions lives below the pier.

For $40 per night RVs can dry camp at one of the two turnouts near the pier, right on the ocean. $60 full hookups are available closer to the pier, and a bit further from the water. The campgrounds are operated by the Port San Luis Harbor District.

Port San Luis Harbor Campground - Avila Beach location map in "high definition"

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