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5 Best Beaches Near Santa Maria, CA

Jon Fesmire | August 9, 2021 @ 12:00 AM

Santa Maria, California is a lovely city in Santa Barbara County with a population of 107,500, near UC Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, and more. The climate is warm year-round, averaging 64 degrees during the day in January and 86 in July. It’s an agricultural town, and while in Santa Barbara County, can be thought of as an extension of San Luis Obispo wine country.

If you love beaches, you’ll want to check out the sands in the Santa Maria area. Here are five we recommend.


Pismo State Beach

You can always find something fun to do at Pismo State Beach. Naturally, you can sunbathe, surf, and swim. However, there’s more. This is a nice place to go fishing for the day, bird watching, hiking, and camping. Parking is just $5 for the day, so come with family or friends, but get here early to be sure you’ll find a spot.

The beach is just part of the experience. This is a whole state park, complete with two campgrounds, North Beach Campground and Oceano Campground. Plus, you’ll want to check out Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, where colorful monarch butterflies cover the trees on their migration from November to February every year. Oceano Dunes Visitor Center, located in the park, has much useful information about what you can do here.

You can even bring your dogs. Just keep them near you on a six-foot or shorter leash.


Point Sal State Beach

In Northwestern Santa Barbara county you’ll find Point Sal State Beach. You can enjoy the 1 ½ mile-long beach and walk along the land above the rocky cliffs, which give beautiful views of the ocean and mountains. Enjoy beachcombing, hiking, sunbathing, fishing, and more. There’s also a lovely view of Lion Rock, an offshore outcropping where birds and sea lions rest.

There are occasional shark sightings, and the undertow is strong, so surfing and swimming isn’t recommended, though you can get your toes wet. While the park doesn’t have picnic tables, you can still bring a blanket and have a nice picnic on the beach.

Since Point Sal Beach is near Vandenberg Air Force Base, rangers enforce no-camping rules. So, come for the day, and leave at sunset, and you’ll be fine.


Rancho Guadalupe Dunes

Trek over dunes near the ocean on the clean sand, let the ocean wet your feet, and stop at a picnic area for lunch at Rancho Guadalupe Dunes. More than a beach, this is a nature preserve, complete with a visitor center that can share much information about the local ecology. In fact, the Dune Center has exhibits of animal specimens, local art, and even a smartphone app.

People come here to enjoy bird and whale watching, fishing, hiking, and exploring nature. Like most beaches, the park does not allow dogs. There are restrictions from March 1 to October 1 due to bird nesting season, so call ahead to ask what’s allowed.


Pirate’s Cove Beach

In San Luis Obispo, but still close to Santa Maria, is the popular Pirate’s Cove Beach.

This site is gorgeous, but it’s not for kids. That’s because this cloistered beach, protected by nearby bluffs, is clothing optional. Take a refreshing swim in the buff and avoid the tan lines, too! Just wear your sunscreen. Tanning is best and most safely done slowly.

When you’ve finished walking or picnicking on the beach, put on your summer clothes and follow the trails, surrounded by coastal scrub. One leads to Shell Beach, with its beautiful waters, sands, and rock formations.


Avila Beach

Avila Beach is both the name of a town and the accompanying sandy beachfront. This resort town has a population of just 1,311.

This beach is charming, clean, and gorgeous, with stairs leading down from the town street to the white sands. The area also features Avila Pier, which extends 1,600 feet into San Luis Bay and provides splendid views of the ocean, sands, and town.

Locals come here to sunbathe, swim, and surf. Consider bringing a picnic and building sandcastles. This is a brilliant spot for it.


If you want to make some extra room at home, perhaps for your surfboards and beach gear, or perhaps because of business inventory stacking up, consider renting a storage unit with us at Fortress Secure Mini Storage. Our Santa Maria facility has units from 5x5 to 10x25, so you will find one that matches your needs and budget. We look forward to hearing from you.

Jon Fesmire
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