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McGrath State Beach Activities

Ventura County

McGrath State Beach


One great thing about surfing at McGrath State Beach is that it is rarely crowded. Most of the surfers are down the beach in front of the power plant. The break at McGrath can be spectacular, but more often than not surfers rank is simply as good. Dangerous rip currents at the beach make it an unadvisable place for inexperienced surfers.

The best time for surfing McGrath is summer, beginning in mid-June and stretching into October.

Local Surf Shops

Ventura Surf Shop
88 East Thompson Blvd., Ventura, CA
Sales and rentals
(805) 643-1062   Ventura Surf Shop

Seaward Surf & Sport
1082 South Seaward Avenue, Ventura, CA
Rentals, sales, lessons
(805) 648-4742   Seaward Surf & Sport

Fishing at McGrath State Beach

McGrath State Beach is a great fishing spot for surf fishing. It's a bit of a walk from the parking lot or campgrounds to the beach, but once you are set up, be prepared for some good action. The area is best known for its surfperch. Sandcrabs always work well for bait. Most anglers bring along some artificial baits as well such as plastic grubs and worms. Popular live baits include mussels, squid, lug worms, and blood worms.

Most of the fish caught along McGrath Beach are the sandy bottom lovers such as spotfin croakers and barred surfperch. Twilight fishermen land sand sharks. The shore drops off quickly at McGrath so now and then a deeper water fish such as halibut is hooked.

Local Fishing Tackle Shops

Hyun's Tackle Shop
3639 East Harbor Blvd., Ventura, CA
(805) 639-4131   Fisherman-Hyun

Eric's Tackle Shop
2127 East Thompson Blvd., Ventura, CA
(805) 648-5665   Eric's Tackle Shop

Hiking at McGrath State Beach

Beach hikers at McGrath can set off in either direction for a nice beach stroll. Heading north, assuming the sand berm is blocking the Santa Clara River, hikers can easily make the 1½ mile walk to Ventura Harbor. After a pleasant meal or perhaps just a soft drink, head back to home base, watching for dolphins, seals, and whales out in the ocean.

For a longer trek, consider setting off to the south:

Along the way restrooms are found at Oxnard Beach Park at Oxnard Beach, a little farther down at Hollywood Beach, and again at Channel Islands Harbor.

Santa Clara River Estuary Natural Preserve Trail and
McGrath Lake Trail

The trail to the natural preserve begins at the day use parking log and heads north toward the estuary. There hikers will find thick vegetation which serves as habitat for dozens of bird species, including the endangered California least tern and Belding's savannah sparrow.

Extend your hike by picking up the trail leading south from signpost 11. Follow trail and road along the edge of the dunes to McGrath Lake, hidden behind the dunes. The area around the lake is home to small mammals and a variety of birds from owls to herons.

Birding at McGrath State Beach

Birders enjoy exploring the banks of the estuary and the area around McGrath Lake. Their efforts are rewarded with a wide variety of birds. More than 200 species of birds have been sighted at the park. Many mate and nest there, while others simply use it as a resting spot along their migratory routes.

Among the more common birds spotted are osprey, western gulls, brown pelicans, cormorants, Anna's hummingbirds, ducks, and black-necked stilts. Other birds found there are terns, snowy plovers, and even Peregrine falcons.

Kite Flying

The steady winds at McGrath Beach make an attractive place for flying kites. However, since McGrath State Beach is a Snowy Plover nesting area, be sure to check with the ranger about areas of the beach where flying kites is permitted.

California Parks and Recreation points out, "State Parks also requests cooperation from beach goers to refrain from flying kites near nesting areas, as hovering kites resemble predators such as hawks, and may cause nest abandonment."

Nearby Activities and Events

Bedford Pinkard
Skateboard Park

3250 Rose Ave., Oxnard, CA
Skateboards and in-line skates only
Monday - Thursday 2PM - 8PM
Friday 2PM - 10PM
Saturday 10AM - 10PM
Sunday 10AM - 8PM
(805) 982-7121

Ventura Marathon

Ventura Pier, Ventura, CA
October TBA, 2018
Marathon, half marathon, 5K and beach party
Marathon starts and finishes at Ventura Pier
Ventura Marathon

Ventura Beach Party

Ventura Promenade
Ventura, CA
October TBA, 2018
Part of the Ventura Marathon celebration
Music, kids' activities, arts and crafts, beach games, beer and food
Adult tournaments in volleyball, sand soccer, frisbee, horseshoes
Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday 10 AM - 4 PM
Ventura Beach Party

Sky High Sports

166 Aviador St., Camarillo, CA
The Trampoline Place
All trampoline floors and walls, a great place for fun.
Sky High Sports

Ventura County Fair

September 1-12, 2018
Ventura County Fairgrounds
Ventura Events Calendar

Adventure Sailing Charters

1575 Spinnaker Dr.
Ventura, CA
Sail aboard the 72-foot schooner Morning Star
Cruise the Channel Islands. Full or half day charters. Overnight trips available.
Surf voyages allow you to surf island spots such as Moore Meadows, Yellow Banks, and Hope Ranch
(805) 794-8703

Ventura to Ojai Bike Trail

Parallels Highway 33
A 15-mile paved walking, biking, jogging trail
1000 feet vertical climb to Ojai
Ventura to Ojai Bike Trail

Mission San Buenaventura

211 E. Main St.
Ventura, CA
Self-guided tours, open every day except major holidays.
Small admission fee
Mission San Buenaventura

Lake Casitas

Highway 150, 17 miles east of Carpinteria
Boating, fishing, camping
Lake Casitas

California's Best Beaches

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