California Beaches



Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

California's Central Coast is a fast growing beach destination that also holds the distinction of producing great strawberries and wine. Even the poinsettias you purchase at Christmas from Costco may have been grown in the area.

Oceano Dunes in the city of Oceano is among the natural assets that tourists like to visit, especially if they drive dune buggies or ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). One of the last remaining public places for this activity, and possibly the only state beach to permit ATV riding along with camping, the attraction draws people from California's Central Valley, Southern California and the Bay Area. See California Off Road State Parks

When we visit we like to stay at the Pacific Resort next to the dunes, with condominium type accommodations about half a block from the beach and dunes. At night when the moon is glowing bright, you can buy firewood next to the beach and concessions, build a blazing bonfire, and really get a feel for what Central Coast is all about. You nearly always need a jacket there at night, and sometimes even a coat during the especially cold days, but a fire will keep you cozy as you watch the sunset over the rolling hills in the distance and beyond the Pacific Ocean.

The ATV rentals are available at the beach if you want to try out the sport. Other hotels around include many beach hotels in Pismo Beach, or Santa Maria to the south.

The history of these storied dunes is quite interesting. People, horses and motorized vehicles all share the same beaches.The Oceano sand dunes area is recognized as the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California. Bordering on a protected region, you might see arroyo willow, California Sagebrush, sand verbena, bush lupine and rare plants such as surf thistle and giant coreopsis. 

In the 1930's, Oceano was considered a healing place-- a  mecca for nudists, artists and free thinkers who collectively called themselves "Dunites."  The Dunites believed that the Oceano Dunes were one of the centers for creative energy. These free-thinking Dunites were quite ahead of their time.

Chumash Indian settlements dotted the region during the time that European explorers traveled through in 1769.   The late 1800's brought railroads and commerce to the region. Much of the spiritual connection was lost, but never for long. Today, volunteers work tirelessly to protect the dunes and the endangered birds that live within its bounds.

Camping at the Dunes: Camping is allowed south of Post 2 on the beach and in the open dune area.  Campsite reservation information can be obtained by calling 1-800-444-7275. Campsites are available by reservation year-round and reservations are highly recommended. Vault toilets and chemical toilets are provided, and water-delivery and holding-tank pump-out services are available on the beach.

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