Jalama Beach – An unspoiled Central California beach

Jalama Beach

Jalama Beach

Jalama Beach – off the beaten track and well worth the bit of driving it takes to get here. This is an excellent place for beach camping. There are long stretches of beach for walking and beach combing, and if surfing or wind surfing are your passions, this is the place. Train lovers can enjoy it here as the coastal line passes just behind the campground. And if that isn’t enough, there is the world-famous “Jalama Burger”.

A beautiful sunset over the rocks at Jalama Beach

In the definition of Central California on this site, the beach at Jalama is the southernmost. The beach here also typifies the characteristics of the central coast – out of the way; quiet and a wonderful place to leave the noise and bustle of the city behind.

This is also the place for a variety of beach camping – tent sites, RV and camper sites and there are seven cabins for those who don’t like to “rough it”.

View of the beach and campground from Jalama Road

Jalama Beach Quick Facts:

Address: 9999 Jalama Road, Lompoc, CA 93436

Park Office Telephone: 805/736-6316 & 805/736-3504

GPS Coordinates at entrance: 34.50901, -120.50028

Park website: Jalama Beach County Park

Organization: County of Santa Barbara

Day use?: Yes; current fee (Feb 2014) $10/car

Dogs allowed?: Yes; proof of rabies shot needed; $3 fee

Camping reservations: Online here

Amenities: Restrooms; picnic tables, playground; horseshoe pit; phones and the Jalama-Beach Grill & Store – phone: 805/736-5027.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible and a beach wheelchair is available. Call the park office ahead for availability.

Notable fact: No cell coverage or Wi-Fi (you’ll get over it 😉

History: The native Chumash had a village here and the name “Jalam” or “Xalam” is said to mean “bundle” as it was a gathering place for coastal and inland groups.

How to get here:

High altitude view of the Jalama Beach area

The photo above shows an overview of the route to Jalama (marked in dark blue) from Highway 101. The turnoff is onto Highway 1 northbound. Continue on Highway 1 for 14.5 miles and the sign shown below will alert you to the Jalama Road turnoff.

This is definitely a back road, and there are no gas stations on the way to Jalama. No cell service either most of the way. Read my page on How to Drive Backroads for some valuable tips.

Sign announcing the turnoff for Jalama Road

View of the ocean and Jalama Creek from the road

Your first view of the ocean as well as Jalama Creek from Jalama Road.

The image below shows the layout of the campsites and facilities at Jalama. The seven spaces just to the inland side of the main gate are the cabins, named for marine bird species.

Map of the campsites and facilities at Jalama Beach Windswept surf at Jalama Beach

If you aren’t from California, you may not know that the Pacific ocean here is generally cold, even in the summer. The main current flows north of Japan, up to the Arctic and then south passing the coast here. This is why you will rarely see a surfer without a wetsuit.

The beach here at Jalama is quite long affording a great walk for beach combing, reflection or romance.

Some guides on the web will tell you that you can walk south about 5 miles along the beach to see the Point Conception lighthouse. However, the 1856 light station there is on private property. Trespassing isn’t recommended.

A reef exposed at low tide at Jalama Beach

Rocky reefs exposed at low tide on Jalama Beach are an interesting geological feature. This formation of tilted sedimentary rocks extends along the coast nearly to Santa Barbara.

Rocks exposed at low tide

Try as I might, it seems an impossible task to really convey the sense of a place like Jalama.

Photos go a long way toward that goal, but never quite capture the real sense of being there. Videos take it just a step further, but fall short as well.

Hopefully what I can give to you here is just a small taste of what a splendid beach Jalama is that whets your appetite to visit.

Windsurfing at Jalama Beach

Home of the famous Jalama hamburger

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