Doheny State Beach For A Night

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Doheny State Beach For A Night

Securing campsites in California can feel like a competitive sport, with enthusiasts poised to pounce on the reservation button the moment the six-month window opens. Earlier this year, I decided to dip my toe into the fray and snagged a campsite at Doheny State Beach for a day, just to see how it all worked. With its stellar ratings and a reservation slot conveniently open during my birthday week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experience Doheny.

The Campsite

Nestled snugly between Dana Point and Capistrano Beach, Doheny offers an idyllic oceanfront setting. Our chosen spot, site 077, boasted the coveted "premium" label thanks to its prime oceanfront location. While most sites were generously spacious, accommodating about two and a half driveways, ours was a bit of a tight squeeze—a single-lane driveway that presented a challenge maneuvering my small camper into place.

However, the true downside of our campsite became apparent when it felt like we were sharing a living room with our neighbor. Cooking felt like a communal activity with him practically breathing down my neck.


We encountered another issue when a man pulled up and claimed that we were occupying his camp spot. My initial reaction was simply "um, no" with a laugh, but he showed me the confirmation email on his phone, confirming that he indeed had this site reserved. After he departed, California State Park police came by to verify my reservation. Eventually, they managed to find a comparable site for him to take. I recommend double-checking your reservation to ensure there's no double booking hiccup at the gate upon check-in.

Now, onto other aspects— the bathrooms left much to be desired, I'd rate them a 2 out of 10. While they do have flushing toilets and pay showers, their cleanliness is questionable, likely due to non-registered campers sneaking in. Additionally, the nearby train tracks can make for a noisy night, as trains rumble past alongside the campground.

Yet, the beach, the very reason one ventures here, is simply stunning. With its expansive stretch of sand and relatively calm waters until you near the breakers, it's a joy to spend time there. Despite brisk winds during our visit, the beach remained a beautiful escape.

Credit where it's due, the staff at Doheny were fantastic—friendly and helpful. The grounds were well-maintained overall, though the same cannot be said for the bathrooms, unfortunately.


RV Amenities / Dana Point 

In terms of RV hookups, this campground offers none; it's all about solar or battery power. Generators are permitted until 10 pm for those who need them, but for us off-the-grid campers, lack of services posed no issue.

As for getting to Doheny, living in North County San Diego meant it was a relatively easy hour-long drive for us, just across the 78 and up the 5, with the campground conveniently located right off the 5 freeway.

While we didn't venture into town this time, we've explored Dana Point on previous occasions and found it to be a delightful spot with great restaurants and a picturesque harbor. If you have bikes with you, it's an effortless trip to town for a meal or some shopping.


Overall, I'm willing to give Doheny another chance in the future. Securing one of the 'double' sites would be preferable, and perhaps remembering to stock up on dry flush cartridges before camping would help too. Despite its flaws, the beach and ocean remain a draw, offering ample opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. Overall, I felt safe, and aside from the bathroom issue, the grounds were clean, and everyone we encountered was pleasant.

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