San Onofre Beach Activities

San Diego County

Events and Activities

Panhe - A Native American Gathering

San Mateo Campground, San Onofre State Beach
March TBA, 2018, 10 AM to 4 PM
Native American singers, dancers, flute circle, good, basketry, artisans, and more.
San Onofre Foundation Events

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

415 Avenida Granada
San Clemente, CA
A living demonstration of California history, culture, and ecology.
Year-round programs and concerts
Casa Romantica

Surfing Heritage Foundation

110 Calle Iglesia
San Clemente, CA
Dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting surfing's heritage
Museum hours 11 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Saturday
Surfing Heritage Foundation

San Clemente SeaFest

October 7, 2018
San Clemente Pier
Chowder Cook-off, Fisherman's Lobster, Arts & Crafts, Surf contest, entertainment, Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo.
San Clemente SeaFest

Dana Point Festival of the Whales

March 3-4 and 10-11, 2018
Dana Point, CA
Two weekends of festivities much too numerous to list. A free shuttle carries you to event locations around Dana Point Harbor.
Dana Point Festival of the Whales

San Onofre Beach Surfing

San Onofre has a long history as one of the leading surfing destinations along the California coast. A string of legendary surf spots are spread along San Onofre State Beach from Trestles in the north to Trails in the south. In between are famous breaks such as The Point, Church, Old Man's, and Dog Patch.


Trestles is more difficult to reach than other breaks at San-O. Many surfers get dropped off by friends near the beach or make the long trek from inland or the south. With a number of breaks that work best under different conditions, surfers are almost never disappointed at Trestles. It is usually crowded.

Old Man's

Old Man's breaks just to the north of the nuclear power plant. Popular spots within the range of Old Man's carry tags such as The Point and Dog Patch. A broad reef stretches out from the shore here. Variations in the reef's outer edge create the various breaks along this section of the beach. Because of the slope of the sea floor here, waves arrive with less energy than elsewhere along this part of the coast. The waves break softly, making them especially popular with beginning and intermediate surfers.


Named for the six numbered paths that lead down to the beach from the sandstone bluffs, Trails is another very popular destination for surfers at San Onofre. The waves extend from the nuclear power plant south to the boundary of Camp Pendleton. Life Old Man's, the waves are fairly gentle, arriving with a slow, soft beach break. It is usually best for long boards.

San Diego County surfer

Surfing Competitions at San Onofre - 2017

Western Surfing Association Events

  • May 12-13, 2018 - West Coast Championships, Church Beach, San Onofre

Western Surfing Association

Annual Surfing Competitions

Fishing at San Onofre

Despite all the jokes about catching two-headed fish next to the nuclear power plant, San Onofre offers some enjoyable surf fishing. Anglers like to fish near the power plant where they regularly land a variety of leopard and sandsharks, stingrays, opaleye, and surf perch. Favorite baits include frozen anchovies and sand crabs. For sharks try live mackerel.

San Onofre State Beach
Hiking Trails

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.

Bluff's Beach Trail

Drop down to the beach from Trail 1 and enjoy a fascinating hike along the narrow strand of sand to Trail 6, about a 3-mile hike. The journey takes you along the foot of 100-foot tall sandstone bluffs, eroded and sculptured into exotic shapes. Look to the ocean and perhaps spot migrating gray whales, dolphins, and harbor seals.

Panhe Nature Trail

The 1½-mile Panhe Nature Trail connects San Mateo Campground with Trestles Beach. Pick up the trail near the amphitheater where you will find an information kiosk pointing out important points along the trail, such as various plants, wildlife, and information about Native American life.

Other Inland Trails

A number of trails lead out from the San Mateo Campground into state beach property to the north and east. At the entrance station to the campground ask for a guide called San Mateo Trails at San Onofre State Beach, Backcountry Map and Information Guide.

Surfing Lessons and Camps

Summer Soul Surf Camp

Week-long day camps at San Onofre beginning in late June and ending in late August. Program designed for boys and girls ages 9 to 16. Learn ocean safety, physical fitness, and healthy eating - all while your enjoy surfing and beach activities.
Summer Soul Surf Camp

Endless Summer Surf Camp

Endless Summer's 5 or 7 day, overnight surf camps include lodging, meals, surfing equipment, and expert surf coaching. They operate from a deluxe campsite near Trail #4 in the Bluff Campground at San Onofre State Beach. Surf instruction is done with no more than three students per instructor. They also have day camps. Sessions run from early June through early September. Several sessions are designated for adults, but most are for girls and boys from ages 11 to 17.
Endless Summer Surf Camp

Surfboard Rentals

Stewart Surfboards

Rentals of a wide range of surfboards. Surfboard sales.
2102 South El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA
1 (800) 265-8882
Stewart Surfboard Rentals

San Clemente Surf School

Rental delivery service of wetsuits and surfboards.
San Clemente Surf School

Surf and Skate Supply

Rental delivery service of surfboards and stand-up paddleboards.
Surf and Skate Supply

San Onofre Surfing Club

The San Onofre Surfing Club fosters the sport of surfing, makes responsible recommendations to the Department of Parks and Recreation pertaining to the operation and development of the San Onofre Surfing Beach, and seeks to retain the beach in its natural state.

They hold a number of events each year, usually at the Old Man's Shack. Check their website for events in 2018 such as the $10 Buck Chuck Surf Contest usually held in May.

For details about these events and club membership, see San Onofre Surfing Club

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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