Red Beach in Oceanside, Ca
Location: Oceanside, CA
Sites: No designated parking. All first come, first serve open parking
Nightly Fee: Fees are annually $60 passes obtained from Game Warden on base… ($40 for Seniors)
Amenities: None at location. Dump station at rest area 1 mile south of Las Pulgas off ramp
Topography: Beach with nearby brush
Miles One-Way: 81
Directions: I–215 to southbound I-15 to westbound CA-76 to northbound I-5 to Las Pulgas exit. East to USMC guard/gate then straight ahead to staging area
Three or four years ago we began enjoying one of the best Thanksgiving Vacation deals available at Red Beach. Conveniently located for folks in the Southern California area it is accessible via Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base once you have purchased an annual pass and gone through the vetting process by the on-base Game Warden’s office.
After our family’s Thanksgiving traditions ideas started changing a wee bit we took advantage of it and remembering how much we’d enjoyed camping at the beach during summer months, we thought we would give this a go.
Now, if you’d like to keep your Thanksgiving menu ideas traditional, there is a Coco’s Restaurant on base 20 minutes or so from your camping area where you can purchase a traditional ham and/or turkey dinner complete with veggies and cranberry sauce. I generally hold out for a prime rib dinner being a beef kind of guy!
As mentioned in a previous post on Red Beach, camping here on the beach during the Thanksgiving season adds a whole new experience as you enjoy beautiful clear blue skies by day and incredible starry skies by night.
Dolphins can be seen on a regular basis swimming up and down the coast line several yards out off the beach. Whale watching can also be done from your chair depending on the time of year that you’re camping here.
Also as previously mentioned, one must remember that you must haul out everything that you haul in and fire pits are allowed but the bottom of the pit container must be off the ground between 12″ and 18″(check with the Game Warden’s office). Please remember that this beach is actively used for military maneuvers and procedural practice consistently throughout the year and we are the USMC’s guests!
Salt water fishing has never been an interest of mine but all my buddies that we camp with at Red Beach do fish here and catch a variety of fish from perch to shark. So far I haven’t seen the guys pull anything out of the water that I would consider eating but it is very interesting to see what exists in the waters there off Camp Pendleton.
We didn’t see any rattlesnakes for coyotes this trip but always keep your dogs on a leash because the bushes around ya’ do tend to have some interesting creatures in them and the dogs always want to charge in head first without thinking about what their doing.
Oceanside is just south of this great camping area and San Clemente is a short distance north so you always have close access to restaurants and stores. Fourth of July’s are always great due to being able to see firework displays from both of these cities and more.
All camping is first come, first serve and as close to the water as you can get your rig. However, use a spotter and extreme caution as most of the time the sand is pretty torn up from all of the heavy duty military equipment.
Holiday camping hours/days are usually extended out by the Game Warden. For instance this Thanksgiving season we were allowed to be there from Wednesday noon to Sunday afternoon
Some more info can be found here and you are always welcome to leave me a comment below if you’d like the specifics on Red Beach.
By R.C. Stude