Pirate’s Cove and Sea Cave in Avila Beach

Before you read any further, yes, Pirate’s Cove is a nude beach, so don’t be surprised if you see naked people hanging out there and let this be a warning if going with your family. That being said, the beach and the cave are incredibly beautiful. You can walk to the cave without going down to the beach if you want to see it and do not want to see anything else. I went and visited on a rainy fall day, and I had both the cave and the beach to myself for sunset, it was a fantastic spot, and here is all the information.

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  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 1551 Cave Landing Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
  • Parking: Dirt lot
  • Information from my visit in 2015 and 2018

Getting There

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After getting off Highway 1 on Avila Beach Dr, you will go under the freeway and drive about a mile and a half till you see a golf course on your right and a small road leading up a hill on the left. The road is called Cave Landing Road, and it is about a half-mile long and ends in a large dirt parking lot.

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After parking, you will proceed down the hill on the trail in the southeast section of the lot. This trail is relatively steep but pretty short, after about a tenth of a mile you will reach a split with a sign that says cave one way and beach the other.

The Cave

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I went to the cave first, so I headed to the right. The trail to the cave is about another tenth of a mile, and when you complete that, you will turn a corner and see the big cave to your right.

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This cave is pretty impressive and is about 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

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When you walk through the cave, you will be greeted by a sheer cliff. This is a fantastic place to watch the sunset.

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I was sad with how much the cave had been abused though. There was trash everywhere along with graffiti on the cave walls. I don’t know who would do such a thing as this is a beautiful piece of nature, but please do your part and clean up some trash if you visit.

The Beach

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After visiting the cave, you can head down to the beach if you feel so inclined. Back at the fork in the road, you will want to go left, and then it is a series of 15-20 steps that lead you down to the beach.

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When I was there at sunset, I was the only person at the beach. I got to sit there and relax with a few of the seals that were sleeping on the rocks in the water.

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The beach also has a few small tide pools, and I saw a decent amount of sea anemones in the shallow pools.

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After sitting on the beach and just watching the waves come in, I headed back up the steps to the car.

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There was a police car waiting in the lot, so I am guessing they shut this area down after sunset, but I can’t confirm that. I did make a new friend on the way back that you can see below.

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Update 2018

I went back again in 2018 so that I could see the arch that I missed during the first trip. It is in the southwest section, and it is a ton of fun to see.

To get down to it though you do have to use a sketchy rope, so many people might not want to go all the way down.

All in all, Pirate’s Cove is a fantastic spot to explore and watch the sunset from. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone due to the optional clothing thing, but I enjoyed my time at this beach. Be sure to leave any tips in the comments.

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