It is no secret, that visitors and locals have been flocking to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area in Pismo Beach, California for many years. Oceano Dunes has gained its popularity by being the only coastal dunes you can drive on in California. Experience the unique opportunity of driving on the beach with the windows down, music cranked all the way up, while you cruise between massive sand dunes and the pacific ocean.
The special thing about Oceano Dunes is that it has so much to offer to any traveler. It is a one-of-a-kind location that should absolutely be added to your California travel bucket list.
Guide to the Sand Dunes in Pismo Beach
Exploring Oceano Dunes is an adventurous way to spend a day in Pismo Beach. It can also be the perfect stop to make on your California coast road trip. We luckily stumbled upon Oceano Dunes on our road trip during our stay in San Luis Obispo, California.
Continue reading, and I will share tips from our experience and how you can plan the ultimate trip to Oceano Dunes SVRA.
How to Get to Pismo Beach Sand Dunes
Pismo Beach is a classic beach town on the central coast of California. It is well known for its array of outdoor activities, beautiful white beaches, and of course, sand dunes. Only a 15-minute drive from San Luis Obispo, the Pismo Beach sand dunes are located at Oceano Dunes SVRA.
Oceano Dunes SVRA
1001 Cabrillo Hwy, Oceano, CA 93445
At the entrance, an employee is collecting an entrance fee of $5. If you choose to park your car and walk or bike onto the beach, you do not have to pay the fee. There is a small parking lot located right outside of the beach. When entering Oceano Dunes, you can decide to go left to the sand dunes or right towards Pismo State Beach. We came for the sand dunes, so make a left, roll down the windows and take in those gorgeous ocean views.
Tip if you are traveling with your furry friend. The Oceano Dunes are dog-friendly. However, dogs are not allowed at Pismo State Beach Dune Preserve.
Traveling to Oceano Dunes SVRA & Pismo State Beach During COVID
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oceano Dunes and Pismo State Beach are gradually being reopened to the public in stages. Currently, both parks are open from 7 am to 8 pm for day-use activities only. They are limiting the number of cars per day to enter both parks to 1,000. Having this in mind, I would plan your visit earlier in the day. Even with these COVID restrictions in place, you are still able to have a wonderful day biking, driving, or walking the beach and sand dunes. There is plenty of space for you to socially distance from others. Also, you will have a large portion of the sand dunes all to yourself. For their updated policies, check the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area website.
Tips for Driving on Sand Dunes, Pismo Beach
It is strongly advised to have a Jeep or truck with 4WD when visiting Oceano Sand Dunes. You do not want to turn your fun afternoon into a rescue mission. If you have never driven on the sand before, stick to the same principles as driving on snow. You can see where other people have driven in the sand. Following the worn-in tracks is the safest and easiest way to navigate the beach by car. Stay away from the areas of deep loose sand because you could get your car or truck stuck.
If you desire to do some off-roading on the dunes, you should plan before your visit. Here is a good website if you want to prepare your car and learn some off-roading tips.
Things to Do at Oceano Dunes
With 1,500 acres of land, the options of activities and things to do at Oceano Dunes are endless! If you are seeking some thrill and adventure, this is the place to be.
Pismo Beach Sand Dunes ATV
Experience the adrenaline rush of driving an ATV on the unique sand terrain. Many people visit Pismo Beach to have the opportunity to ride an ATV or sand buggy. Multiple vendors at Oceano Dunes will rent you an ATV for the day, or you are allowed to bring your own to the state park.
Other Ways to Explore the Pismo Sand Dunes
If being in control of your own ATV sounds a little scary and not for you, you can book a Hummer tour to ride the Pismo Dunes. The Hummer tours offer a ride in an open, 6 person Hummer that will send you soaring over the sand dunes. Other ways to get your blood pumping is by sandboarding or sand sledding down the dunes. Explore the sand dunes on foot, this is what we did. Pull your car over and hike the sand dunes.
Pismo Dunes Camping
There are many family fun activities to do at Oceano Dunes. One of the favorites is to go camping on the beach. Bonfires are allowed, and what is a night of camping without roasting s’mores and telling stories around a bonfire?
To visit and make future camping reservations, you can go here. Other kid-friendly activities include horseback riding on the beach and the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center. The visitor center offers a hands-on exhibit of the dunes, plants, and animal species.
Okay, we get it. The sand dunes are pretty amazing! However, we cannot forget that we are on the California coast. The enormous ocean provides visitors the chance to surf the waves, kitesurfing, and surf fishing.
After Your Visit to Pismo Beach Sand Dunes
Now that your fun day of driving on the beach and adventure at Oceano Dunes has to come to an end, I recommend going for a car wash. The sand and seawater could cause some serious damage to your car. To avoid any damage from occurring, we decided to get our car washed at a local gas station that was only a couple of miles away.
Tip: You can get your car washed at the Chevron located at:
340 5 Cities Dr
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
As you can see, you don’t have to travel to the desert to see and play on some epic sand dunes! A trip to Oceano Dunes is an easy trip to plan and it will guarantee you an unforgettable day. If you are planning a California Coast road trip, you should check out my other blog post of Pfeiffer Beach More Than Just the Purple Sand Beach.