BeachNuts Beach Guide for:
Refugio State Beach
Refugio Beach, located 23 miles NW of Santa Barbara, is simply gorgeous. When you arrive via Highway 101, you will be amazed at the beautiful beach views and the ranch lands that roll down into the broad, sandy, crescent-shaped bay lined with palm trees.
Refugio State Beach is an excellent destination. One of Southern California's premier camping sites, it is a great place to spend the day with family and friends, as there is plenty of space for picnicking and the water is usually calm, making it a fairly safe place for the kids to play at the water's edge.
The area is a great spot for surfers and kayakers. There is good surfing on the west side by the point. Refugio State Beach also has excellent coastal fishing as well as terrific trails.
Come summertime, Refugio tends to get a bit crowded, but that should not stop you from enjoying its offshore beauty, craggy coast line, or the bluff-top bike trail that heads east to El Capitán State Beach.
There are a number of other beaches in the area that can be accessed via trails or by walking along the coast.
The first half mile of coastline west of Refugio Point is accessible only during lower tide. Here there are numerous tidal pools to explore. A dirt path leads from the west side, by the point, for about a mile, providing another enjoyable way to explore the coastline.
The 2.5 mile bike path along the beach bluffs to El Capitan State Beach makes for a wonderful adventure. El Capitan is a sandy beach with many rocky tidal pools. It's a perfect setting for swimming, fishing, surfing, picnicking and camping.
Corral Beach, located 1 mile east of Refugio, is a small cove tucked in between El Capitan and Refugio. The mile-long walk to Corral Beach is especially enjoyable, or alternatively you can take the bike path. Corral Beach is a beautiful place for a secluded picnic, and the walks in either direction are lots of fun.
There are many other beaches in the area that can be reached only by ocean kayak. Some of these offer secluded shelter for a lunch break, exploratory walks along the shore, or a pleasant respite from paddling.
* Be forewarned: during the summer the beach gets busy and all the camping grounds are full, but between October and April, Refugio is almost deserted.
Parking: $5 entrance fee per vehicle. (This may change at any time.)
Hours: 8 am to sunset.
Camping facilities, rest rooms, showers, lifeguards, picnic tables and fire pits.
The camp sites are adjacent to Refugio Creek and the Pacific Ocean. There are 85 tent and RV campsites. Fees are $14 to $16 per night. For camping reservations, call Destinet at (800) 444-7275. For beach information, contact the regional park headquarters at Gaviota State Park at (805) 968-3294
Things To Do
A perfect spot for swimming, fishing, surfing and kayaking.
From Fairview Avenue in Goleta, follow Highway 101 west for 14 miles (22.5 miles from downtown Santa Barbara) to the Refugio turnoff. There is free parking under the freeway and a trail leads you directly into the park. For those who would like to drive into the park, presently the daily fee is $ per car.