Camping at the beach is in high demand in the San Francisco Bay Area and all of Northern California during the summer months. Since these beachside camp spots are so coveted, you’ll want to be proactive and book them well in advance. Many of these camping areas allow spots to be reserved online months before your trip. See the map above and the list of beaches below that you can camp at.
Kirby Cove with the bridge in the background
The closest beach camping options to San Francisco are Kirby Cove below the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin County side, China Camp on San Pablo Bay, Steep Ravine Camp below Mount Tam, and Francis Beach in Half Moon Bay State Beach. Each is unique both in the camping experience and the type of beach adjacent to camp. Other beach campgrounds can be found between Bodega Bay and the Santa Cruz area (see map).
Point Reyes National Seashore has a couple wilderness camps right next to the sand of Santa Maria Beach and Wildcat Beach. The only challenge is that you’ll need to carry all your gear in. For backpackers, these two spots should rank highest.
Tomales Bay camping areas are mostly boat-in only. This means that you can only get there by boat or kayak. Two have toilets, Tomales Beach and Marshall Beach, but the others are completely carry in and carry out. At all of these boat-in camp spots you’ll need to bring your own water. If you want to drive to a Tomales Bay campground, then Lawson’s Landing is your only choice.
Doran Beach Campground on Bodega Bay