san onofre
Ray Ford

Distance-3 miles east to the Arroyo Hondo trestles (Vista Point); .5 miles to the Vista Del Mar beach access; 3 miles west to Gaviota Beach
Topo– Gaviota
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San Onofre Beach is 7 miles beyond (west of) Refugio Beach. Continue to the Mariposa Reina turnoff (8 miles from Refugio), cross the freeway, then head back towards Refugio (east) on the freeway. The beach is 1.2 miles and is marked by a Gaviota State Park sign.

Be careful crossing the railroad tracks when walking to and from the beach. San Onofre is known as a “clothing optional” beach, which means that you may encounter nudists here. If this offends you, there are many other beaches from which to choose.

San Onofre Beach gets more use than other beaches along the Gaviota coastline so it isn’t as uncrowded as some of the other beaches; nevertheless it rarely has more than 15-20 people here at any time. There are wonderful walks in either direction at low tide and it is 3 miles in either direction to Arroyo Hondo or Gaviota State Park. At times in the winter after storms there isn’t much sand on the beach, but at other times, San Onofre has a half mile long stretch of sandy beach on which to relax.

Often I choose the San Onofre beach when the tide is about at medium level. This means there are some points in either direction I may not make it around but I like walking along the edge of the cliffs with the surf pounding nearby me. To the east, a series of boulder fields make the walking in that direction seem uninviting but they last for only a hundred yards or so and after that is a long section of almost perfect beach with hard-packed sand to walk on and soft fluffy sand to kick back on. Three-fourths mile brings you to a point with more huge rocks to work your way through. From there on are smaller covers and more frequent points. At low tide the walk out and back to San Onofre is very, very nice.

To the west the beaches are much narrow and there are more ledges jutting out into the ocean which you will need to climb, making this a much more adventurous section of the coastline to walk. At low tide the walking is free and easy but when they are in the medium range the dashing in and out to avoid the waves and the clambering over the rocks is lots of fun. It is a half-mile down to Vista Del Mar where you can climb up on the cliffs and return if you want via one of the many paths which wander in and out of the cliff top sage brush.


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