Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
4.5

Top ways to experience Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area and nearby attractions

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles168 reviews
Excellent
104
Very good
38
Average
12
Poor
6
Terrible
8

misopiso88
Seattle, WA25,273 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
So fun to have the touristy/busy Pismo Beach right next to the tranquility and openness of the dunes in Oceano. Worth getting a 4-wheel drive rental car to check it out.
Written March 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Malo2Melo
2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
When we researched Oceano Dunes all we found was smiles and great reviews. ATV offloading vehicles and the beach sounds like a amazing time. We have a Titan 4X4 so we loaded up our ATVs and Pismo Beach here we come. We entered off of Grand and were greeted by a nice park employee. She informed us that we have to drive 1 mile on to the beach to unload or ride our bikes. We drove in 2 miles and parked next to other dune guest. Dunes are amazing if youre an advanced rider. Beware of cliffs or unexpected drops. There are a few dangerous areas with warning signs and fenced off but some area are not. These dunes are bowls. My family rode along the beach which was fun but a small area. All day cars and trucks were getting stuck in the sand. So what happens when you get stuck??? There is only 1 tow truck company allowed on the beach so No AAA. The tow truck company requires a non refundable show up fee of $300 made with a credit card. If you have a camper, duals or 4x4 its a $1000 hook up fee plus the milage. Its important to get out before the tide comes. cars, SUV, 4x4 and duals were getting stuck and the local tow truck company was keeping busy. We left and headed towards the exit. 100 yards from the exit the sand sinks and requires you to step on it it so you don't get stuck. The police had 4 trucks pulled over before the exit. As we approached the exit my truck struggled so i increased my speed so that i wouldn't get stuck. I was pulled over by an officer who cut me off causing us to make a sudden stop. Yes i was wrong for speeding. I was given a speeding ticket and my truck got stuck. Pismo Police will not assist you if you get stuck and have a very arrogant attitude towards people who get stuck. I understand Pismo Police is not paid to assist us in getting unstuck no hard feeling but no need for the arrogant attitude. We talked to other fellow "stuckers" and they too were ticketed for speeding and were stuck in the sand. Some were able to afford a tow from the local company but we did not have a credit card. I maybe wrong but it seemed like Pismo Police wants you to get stuck so that the local tow truck company can come to the rescue$$$$$$$$. Luckily, A local non profit which consist of a bunch of young locals who donate their time to help people get unstuck came to our rescue. I saw them during the day but i thought they were some hill billys driving around with big flags on their trucks. They were actually helping people during the day as well. I was wrong for judging, I learned a major life lesson. These kids who i thought were racist hillbilly ended up being the nicest people i have ever met. They helped everyone get unstuck for free. If you guys are reading this Thank you so much for helping us out. Unfortunately, we won't be back.
Written August 26, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Backpacks & Blankets
New York City, NY74 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2019 • Couples
This place is so much fun. If you're looking for the whole "drive and camp on the beach" experience, this is 100% what you're looking for.

Some of the information online is conflicting and a bit confusing (there are different beach areas, some state and some private, plus camp grounds not on the beach, etc etc etc). Basically, if you want to drive and camp on the beach, Oceano Dunes is the place you want to go.

It is $10 per regular sized vehicle to camp for the night. Get there early as good spots fill up quick, and also some people will rope off tons of beach space for themselves, which is a bit of an issue but nothing that should stop you from finding a good spot if you get there early enough.

If you're not sure where you're supposed to be in order to access this part of the beach, toss the Oceano Campgroun on Pier into your GPS. Keeping driving down Pier until you see an informational kiosk at the edge of the beach. That is where you pay and where you'll be directed as to camping areas.

Tips:
1. Yes, you CAN have a bonfire. There is a liquor store up Pier that sells bundles of wood. Check them to make sure they aren't wet. The price is right, and you can also grab that bottle of wine for the night.

2. Bring food and a blanket. It is just plain awesome to build a campfire on the beach, throw down a blanket, have a bite to eat and maybe an adult beverage (see point 1), and relax at sunset.

3. If you're into the whole dune-buggy/4 wheeler thing, you are allowed to bring your own or rent one from a private rental place that posts up on the beach.

4. Hoodies/sweatshirts. Even on warm days, once the sun goes down and the wind hits you off of the ocean, it is CHILLY. The fire will help, but nothing beats good layers.

5. Best restrooms are near the Pier entrance.
Written May 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Imjustme
Arizona94 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2015 • Couples
We traveled 2000 miles only to be denied access to the beach....we brought our Polaris razor...the laws are nuts here...made no sense at all...so disappointed
Written April 20, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sam D
Ellicott City, MD67 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2016 • Family
Went to Oceano Dunes State Park. Drove rental car on the beach. Lots of fun. Decided to rent a dune buggy from Steve's ATV Rental on the beach. BIG, BIG MISTAKE. Steve's gave us very little instruction. We set off in 4 person dune buggy. 5 minutes into ride we plunged head first into an unmarked giant hole in the middle of the dune. Wife broke both arms, multiple stitches in me and my children. No warning from Steve's about such hazards. No attempt by State Park to mark hazards. Total negligence. Learned from ambulance drivers that about 6 people a day get taken by ambulance to local hospitals for injury. Multiple deaths occur annually. Doctors said it was a good source of organ donations!! It is a travesty!!!! BEWARE!!! Looks like fun but you could die!
Written April 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ald233
Arroyo Grande, CA310 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Couples
We walked in to observe the area. If you like to tear up beautiful recreational beaches, this is the place for you. In a State known for conservation, it is hard to believe this is a State Park and it even exists.
People can park overnight on the beach and use ATV’s to race around pretty much unregulated. There are regularly a few deaths every year.
Written March 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RKC69
California City, CA25 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2017 • Family
as a lifelong local it pains me to see that cars and drinking is still allowed on my beach. People speed while you are jogging or trying to listen to the ocean and they leave trash everywhere.. I'm very tired of cars on the beach
Written October 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PWestcomm
Mission Viejo, CA52 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2013 • Couples
In a sedan no less. You don't need a four-wheel drive. Plus, driving out onto the beach is the only way to get close to see the sand dunes, unless you'd ready to hike or rent an ATV.

I think Oceano is the only state beach in California that allows you to drive your own vehicle out onto the sand. Highly recommend it — we didn't get stuck, and you just don't get closer to the water than that. We were there in early January, so we almost had the entire beach to ourselves. I imagine it is much more crowded in the summer time. What fun!

Helpful hints: Try to plan your visit as close as possible to low tide. Ask the park ranger about the creek crossing, too. There is a permanent sign that says you're not supposed to cross it, but apparently (according to the ranger) that is only during high tide.

Also, be sure — very, very sure — to drive only the dark, wet sand. (Not the white sand.) You may want to observe and see how other vehicles do it for awhile and ask the ranger plenty of questions before venturing out.

Some local residents stopped and showed us how to cross the creek. They also recommended we go skydiving. That is where we drew the line.
Written January 14, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

soulsisters
Modesto, CA382 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Family
I guess if you are into a lot of vehicles driving on the beach and off road vehicles tearing up the dunes then this is for you. It's not a beach to take your kids and let them play because there are so many vehicles everywhere. To me, a beach is a place of serenity, that is not the case here.
Written July 25, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris R
Bakersfield, CA210 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Couples
When it is not crowded, this is a fantastic place to camp and ride. The views are beautiful and the dunes are fun to ride. When not crowded, the restroom facilities are clean and the whole atmosphere is very relaxed.

BUT, the riding area is VERY small, and when it gets crowded it gets horrible. The sand gets rutted and super choppy. Crazy, stupid, inexperienced, drunks, or people fitting all of these descriptions are running all over the place putting your life in danger. During busy weekends, you will not see many American Flags flying, and the place is full of so much litter and filth it will make you want to cry. The bathrooms get so disgusting, you will be holding back vomit. This place is not worth going to during holidays at all. Because of all of these rude and careless people running about, there is a huge law enforcement presence on the beach that will not hesitate to cite you for registration, speeding, no helmet, and DUI.

Also be mindful that they will only allow so many vehicles in the park on a given weekend, so unless you have advanced camping reservations, you may not be allowed in! They don't give the public warning when the park is sold out, you will have to find out if it is closed or not when you arrive. Also, during periods of extreme rainfall, they will close the park when the creek crossing becomes dangerous.

Any time the creek is running, cars get swamped and carried out to sea almost every day. If your vehicle is not up to the task, do not drive across the creek.

Do not be an idiot and drive your car out there or tow your travel trailer with a 2 wheel-drive truck. Air down your tires to about 15 PSI, and make sure you bring a portable air compressor to air them back up (the air station is closed half the time).
Written February 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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