Refugio State Beach is one of the beautiful beaches located north of Santa Barbara along the Gaviota Coast. This palm-tree-lined beach is popular with day users, beach loungers, coastal fishers, surfers, bird watchers, picnickers, and overnight campers.
Gaviota Coast is a special place because it represents one of the last stretches of the undeveloped California coastline. Refugio Beach is one of the public recreation areas along this coastline; El Capitan and Gaviota State Park are the others.
Refugio State Beach Camping
Campsites are located very close to the beach, with some nestled in shady palm trees. Imagine falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. Both tent and RV campers can enjoy Refugio State Beach. There are 63 standard sites and three group sites which are available year-round.
All sites are located very close to the beach, nestled in shady palm trees. The best Refugio State Beach campsites with beach view 23 -27 are directly behind the day-use area. Sites 34,35,36,60, 61, and 62 are all near the beach. To get a hotel room this close to the sand, you would have to pay hundreds of dollars a night.
Check with rangers if your RV is larger than 35 feet to make sure you select a site that will fit your size. Campsites fill up quickly on weekends and during the summer vacation season. You will want to plan if you hope to score a coveted camping spot. Reservations can be made online at the ReserveCalifornia™ website.
Refugio State Day Use
Refugio SB’s day-use parking area is only steps to the sand. If you want to enjoy a picnic lunch or sunset dinner, you can enjoy it right on the sand or grab one of the picnic tables in the grassy picnic area. If the urge to grill strikes you, you can use one of the on-site grills.
Biking Along The Beach
If you like to enjoy the freedom of biking, there is an easy bike trail that connects Refugio with El Capitan State Beach. It is a 2.5-mile ride each way and affords lovely coastal views the entire way. The trail is suitable for all ages and is a great way to work up an appetite for a beach BBQ back at the campground.
The coastal location is great for watching diving seabirds, shorebirds, and more. Bring a pair of binoculars. You can see migrating whales during the right time of year or catch playful porpoises frolicking in the wave.
On a wildlife note, be sure to keep your picnic items secure and under watch at all times. Feisty gulls and little rodents have been known to enjoy a snack or two from unsuspecting beachgoers. Make sure you do your part to keep the wildlife wild.
The Gaviota Coast can also be enjoyed from the ocean. Bring your own kayak and enjoy the open coastline, or you can arrange a kayak rental and tour from a local vendor, such as Santa Barbara Adventure Company. You’ll get to soak in the sun, the gorgeous views, and coastal wildlife sightings from your ocean perch.
Refugio State Beach is located off of Highway 101, approximately 20 miles north of Santa Barbara. Look for the Refugio Road exit. Day use fees at Refugio also get you into the nearby El Capitan State Beach and Gaviota State Beach for free on the same day. Address: 10 Refugio Beach Rd, Goleta, California.