Just returned from one week camping at Jalama. Here is my experience, I hope it provides needed information.
We arrived on a Monday afternoon, 5:30 p.m. School is out in that area by the way, so I was not sure what to expect. We had the choice of many different campsites. We were most interested in a view and hook ups; we ended up taking 116, way up on the top row. The view was to die for!! Best view in the park, in my opinion. Odd thing...there were orange cones in many of the "available" campsites. When we would ask campers about them, they usually said the sites were taken and the people were returning. But when asking one of the rangers, he said "I don't know where the cones came from, but that site is open, you can have it and I will remove the cones." That is how we got our site. I never solved the mystery of the orange cones, but I will tell you they popped up everywhere, and I honestly think the rangers were the ones placing them. Why? I will never know!!
The beach was gorgeous. No tar, little seaweed, no litter. Rough and cold, but many surfers out there. Yes you must have a wetsuit, my son and nephew surfed and boogie boarded, they were even cold with the wetsuits.
The restrooms and showers were super clean, and it stayed that way my entire week there. Showers were hot and perfect. 25 cents a minute. Bring quarters! There were water hookups on the top row, but we had to put two hoses together to reach. We would just fill up quickly and be done with it. Everyone else did the same thing. Loved having the electrical hookups. Convenient. Only the top two rows have hookups.
Campsites are super small and very close together. Little privacy. Fortunately we had great neighbors, no problems there. Everyone we encountered, from campers to staff, were friendly and always ready to talk. Yes dogs can go on the beach! They have a blast. We picked up after our dogs, however many did not. CLUE, the little cute "bird house" looking things throughout the part contain DOGGY BAGS! Use them people!
Saw dolphins, seals and even one bobcat. Our last morning a stranded little seal appeared on the sand; rangers cordoned it off with those lovely orange cones; this was to keep people away. Glad to say everyone seemed to cooperate.
Weather. It ranged from hot, to perfectly pleasant, to cold, to a misty rain, to fog, to almost hurricane force winds! No lie. One evening we were sitting looking at the ocean when the ocean breeze suddenly stopped. Then it became very hot and still. Then moments later, a reverse hot wind blew in from the mountains behind us (similar to a very hot Santa Ana wind) and literally blew everything out of our campground. Our neighbor's satellite dish blew down, our boogie boards went down the hill. One of my dogs literally flew out of her harness and went for cover. It was crazy~ How could you ever know? I did not sleep easy that night, worrying about when the wind would return again. One fluke accident in our week long stay.
The store; well stocked and very friendly. Yes, the Jalama Burgers are to die for. The french fries and onion rings are just so so.
Beach/ocean front spots seem to be at a premium. I can absolutely tell you that people usually move in and take a regular spot and then put their name on a waiting list for ocean front. I doubt you would ever drive in and just find an ocean front spot open. I think they may be nice, but then again, no hookups and the view is not probably even as good as the very top row.
There is a sign at the beginning of the 14 mile (long, curvy) road to Jalama. Most of the week we were there the sign was lit up CAMPGROUND FULL. However people kept coming in and usually got a spot. They sometimes had to wait in overflow for a whole day, or choose a less preferable spot, but I never saw anyone turned away in the entire week. I would not let the sign deter me in the future.
I think that wraps it up. Oh. yes, no cell phone service AT ALL. It has something to do with Vandenburg Air force Base right up the beach. There are pay phones and they did take quarters. The store rents DVD's, only $3.00, that was a nice touch.
Go with a good attitude and a sense of adventure and you will have a great time!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.