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Friends who visit the Central California Coast will tell you about their trip to Shell Beach, but when you look for it on a map, it might be hard to find. That’s because it’s a neighborhood in the city of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County. Having a generic coastal name like “Shell Beach” doesn’t help your Google search either. In California there is a Shell Beach in La Jolla, Jenner, Inverness, and Sea Ranch too. This Shell Beach, however, tops them all.

IMG_3534 elmer ross beach (Custom)Elmer Ross Beach

There are nine separate beaches tucked below the cliffs of Shell Beach. They are in scenic coves below steep bluffs. Some have clean grass parks on the bluff tops and most have tide pools that are exposed at low tides. Unfortunately, many of the Shell Beach beaches are quite small at high tide. During those times, head over to the Pismo Beach Pier to take advantage of the larger size of Pismo City Beach.

While there are several excellent hotels and resorts in Shell Beach, this is mostly a residential neighborhood. Vacation rentals can be found if you plan to stay for a while. There is a wider selection of restaurants to choose from and even a small corner grocery in Shell Beach. Downtown Pismo Beach has much more to choose from for dining and lodging.

IMG_3200 Pirates Cove Avila Beach (Custom)Pirate’s Cove between Shell Beach and Avila Beach

Below is a list of the beaches in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. This includes the adjacent housing community known as Sunset Palisades. We also included the clothing optional beach Pirate’s Cove which is technically in Avila Beach as it is accessible from a trail that begins in the Shell Beach area.

Beaches on this map

  • IMG_6065-elmer-ross (Large)

    Elmer Ross Beach

    Elmer Ross Beach is below a steep bluff between The Inn at the Cove hotel and Dinosaur Caves Park in the Shell Beach neighborhood of Pismo Beach, CA. This small cove […]

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  • IMG_3488 (Large)

    Dinosaur Caves Park

    Dinosaur Caves Park is a family-friendly park in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA. The park has open grass areas, picnic tables, walking paths, ocean overlooks, and an […]

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  • IMG_6031 (Large)

    Margo Dodd Park Beach

    Margo Dodd Park is a small patch of grass on the bluff in the Shell Beach neighborhood of Pismo Beach, CA. A gazebo, two picnic tables, and several benches look […]

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  • IMG_3410 (Large)

    Eldwayen Ocean Park

    Eldwayen Ocean Park is a long narrow park along the bluff in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA. At the center of this stretch of Ocean Boulevard near […]

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  • Memory Park Pismo Beach BS-DC March2015 (5)

    Memory Park

    There is a small sandy beach below Memory Park along Seacliff Drive in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA but the cliffs at the park are too steep […]

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  • Spyglass Park Pismo BS-DC March2015 (2)

    Spyglass Park

    Spyglass Park is a blufftop park in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. This grassy park has a kids playground and picnic tables and barbecues too. A rough eroded […]

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  • Silver Shoals Pismo Beach DCBS (4)

    Silver Shoals Park

    Silver Shoals Park is a small grass park with great views and a steep beach access in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. At the south end of the park […]

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  • S Palisades Park Pismo BS-DC March2015 (11)

    South Palisades Park

    South Palisades Park is a linear grassy park along the bluff in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. There are picnic tables and benches here with nice views from […]

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  • IMG_3170 (Large)

    Pirate’s Cove Beach

    Pirate’s Cove is a well-known clothing optional beach between Avila Beach and the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA. This south-facing cove is somewhat protected from the weather and […]

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