San Onofre State Beach

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Coordinates: 33°22′45″N 117°34′21″W / 33.37917°N 117.57250°W / 33.37917; -117.57250

View to the south

San Onofre State Beach is a 3,000-acre (1,214 ha) state park located in San Diego County, California, USA.[1] The beach is 3 miles (5 km) south of the city of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road. The state park is leased to the state of California by the United States Marine Corps. Governor Ronald Reagan established San Onofre State Beach in 1971. With over 2.5 million visitors per year,[2] it is one of the five most-visited state parks in California, hosting swimmers, campers, kayakers, birders, fishermen, bicyclists, sunbathers, surfers, and the sacred Native American site of Panhe. It is named after the fourth-century saint Onuphrius.

Located between San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach is the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), which was officially shut down in June 2013.[3][4]

Park attractions

The rail line for which Trestles is named

The San Onofre Bluffs portion of San Onofre State Beach features 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of sandy beaches with six access trails cut into the bluff above. The campground is along the old U.S. Route 101 adjacent to the sandstone bluffs. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. San Onofre includes San Onofre Bluffs and Beach areas; San Onofre Surf Beach, a day use facility; San Mateo campgrounds and day use facility; and Trestles, accessible via a nature trail from San Mateo Campgrounds. Alcohol is banned from all beaches within the State Park.[1]

The park includes a marshy area where San Mateo Creek meets the shoreline and Trestles, a well-known California surfing site. Whales, dolphins and sea lions can be seen offshore from time to time. The park’s coastal terrace is chaparral-covered.[citation needed]


After Sunset

A surfing and fishing camp had been there since the 1920s, before the land was taken by the U.S. government to establish Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine training camp during World War II. Surfers using redwood boards have visited San Onofre since at least the 1940s, including notables Lorrin "Whitey" Harrison, Don Okey, Al Dowden, Tom Wilson, and Bob Simmons.[5]

San Onofre has several surf breaks on its 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of coast, ranging from the beginner’s gentle breaking waves to one of the premiere surf breaks in the United States, Trestles.

  • Trestles - Trestles is inaccessible by vehicle; a long walk from either the north or south end passing under the Trestles Bridge is necessary for access. This world-famous surfing area is known for its consistent waves.
  • Church - Located near Camp Pendleton’s beach resort, Church provides sunbathing and duck watching. The name refers to the long-gone chapel which was located not far from the site.
  • Surf Beach - The "surf beach" area has 'flush' pit toilets and cold showers, but no camping. It is divided by the locality into three breaks spots known as The Point, Old Man’s, and Dogpatch (named from north to south). All perform best on a south swell, though the beach takes any surf and slows it down to a very slow pace. The entire area is covered by a rock reef, often making walking into or out of the water difficult.
  • Trails - Trails is the most southern of surf spots in this region and includes both rock bottom and sandy breaks. Trails is also the last point to camp at San Onofre. Camping is on the bluffs with cold showers and 'flush' pit toilets nearby.


Panhe at San Onofre is an ancient Acjachemen village that is over 8,000 years old and a current sacred, ceremonial, cultural, and burial site for the Acjachemen people. Many Acjachemen people trace their lineage back to Panhe. It is the site of the first baptism in California, and in 1769 saw the first close contact between Spanish explorers, Catholic missionaries, and the Acjachemen people. The United Coalition to Protect Panhe and The City Project advocate for the preservation of the site.[6] In keeping with the Padres’ tradition of naming areas after patron saints, this area was named after the obscure Egyptian, St. Onuphrius.[7]

Toll road controversy

On November 10, 2016, the [Transportation Corridor Agency] abandoned plans to build a six lane toll highway through San Onofre State Beach, other nearby sensitive environmental areas, and certain Native American cultural sites. The announcement brings to an end more than 10 years of effort to build through these areas. The abandonment of this route for the Toll Road was part of an agreement ending several lawsuits filed by the California attorney general and a coalition of environmental groups that sought to block the project.[8]

Former nude beach: "Trail 6"

Nudity is prohibited at all parts of San Onofre State Beach,[9] A traditional "clothing optional area"[10] was formerly located at the extreme south end of San Onofre Bluffs beach, accessed via Trail number 6.[11] Since March 2010, park rangers have been citing park visitors for nudity, following the 2009 defeat of a long-running legal challenge by a nudist group.[12][13][14]


  1. ^ a b California, California State Parks, State of. "San Onofre SB". CA State Parks. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  2. ^ Anton, Mike (2008-07-05). "San Onofre's new bare necessity: a suit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  3. ^ "Southern California Edison website". Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  4. ^ Lovett, Ian (2012-07-04). "San Onofre Could Hint at a Non-nuclear Future". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ San Onofre Surfing Club: History of the San Onofre Surfing Club (1974).
  6. ^ "Save Panhe". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  7. ^ California, California State Parks, State of. "San Onofre SB". CA State Parks. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  8. ^ Weikel, Dan. "Settlement ends the threat of a toll road through San Onofre State Beach". Retrieved 2016-11-23. 
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Russell Cahill, May 31, 1979". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  12. ^ CARCAMO, CINDY. "State spent over $40,000 to fight nudists". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2016-11-23. 
  13. ^ "Cover Up: Nudists Targeted for Ticketing". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  14. ^ "Opinion: Naturist Action Committee vs. California State Department of Parks & Recreation" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 

External links

  • official San Onofre State Beach website
  • [1]
  • San Onofre Beach News and Recreation
  • Surf Shop located at San Onofre
  • Aerial Video of San Onofre Beach and campground
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