As the sun creeps up the hills of San Clemente, California, the decision about which of its lovely beaches to set up the day’s camp rests solely with the decision to surf, chill out or take in some Pacific Rim hiking.
Three of the best choices need be no more that 10 minutes by foot or 10 minutes by car. In a north to south direction, here are three hidden jewels that offer the beach bum the perfect remedy of all those options.
Capistrano Beach, California
Capistrano Beach or Capo as the locals call it is a sliver of white sand on the Pacific Ocean bordered by Dana Point to the north and San Clemente central about five miles to its south. The coolest thing about this stretch of Southern California pride is the vistas at sunset and the fire rings families enjoying watching the ball of fire sink. Of course, you can enjoy swimming in the aqua blue and novice surfers can hone their skills. During the summer, everyday in the evenings, visitors will see outrigger paddling teams practice the Hawaiian style canoes as they prepare for their weekend statewide competitions.
North Beach in San Clemente
Traveling just a couple of miles south either on the Pacific Coast Highway or Interstate 5, the middle point recommendation – North Beach San Clemente – is just a right hand turn on Pico. From PCH, don’t drive too fast or you’ll end up in the ocean. From the Interstate, it’s no more than a quarter mile.
NorthBeach in San Clemente continues to be popular not just for sunbathing and surfing, but for the exercise path and tons of trains passing through along the oceans edge. Considered a more intermediate surfing spot you won’t be far from the amenities of a quaint Spanish styled village in San Clemente proper.
The consistency of waves continues to make T Street a popular venue for surfers and body boarders alike. With sandbars, reefs, rocks and seaweed gardens, the break is unpredictable but reliable. On the southern end of San Clemente, all you have to do is ask in town – everyone there knows. This break requires a stepped up level of surfing skill, but still offers the panoramic scenery and the opportunity to hike along the cliff bluffs.
I lived in San Clemente from 2000-2008. Currently, I reside in Dana Point, CA just 5 miles north of San Clemente.