While driving on the beach is a long-standing tradition in the American South and many other parts of the world, there are significantly fewer places to do so along the West Coast. Pacific beaches that allow driving are few and far between. Reasons for this include dangers to wildlife and visitors, along with the potential to accelerate erosion. However, certain local governments have found ways to preserve the balance between safety, protecting nature, and 4×4 recreation. Here is a list of those sandy, hidden gems.
WASHINGTON & OREGON COASTS
LONG BEACH PENINSULA, WA
The longest drivable beach in America and one of the longest beaches in the world, the Long Beach Peninsula features 28 miles of coastline – and 20 of those miles are drivable. Certain sections are open for driving year-round, however, others are restricted during the summer. The beach can be busy during certain parts of the year so keep your eyes peeled and obey the 25-mph speed limit.
TIERRA DEL MAR, OR
The Oregon Coast’s scenery is astonishing, there is no doubt about it; filled with towering cliffs, evergreen trees, and even sand dunes. One of the few beaches that you can drive on in Oregon, Tierra del Mar is no exception. Roughly 90 miles from Portland, this is a beach that is nothing short of epic. However, driving is restricted to certain times of the year, only on weekdays, and not on holidays so plan your trip accordingly.
THE CALIFORNIA COAST
PISMO BEACH, CA
A four-wheeler’s paradise, Pismo Beach is located on California’s Central Coast and lies right next to the Oceano Dunes. There is roughly a six mile stretch of beach that allows vehicles along with plenty of room for activities such as camping, fishing, and surfing. Heading south will take you to the Oceano Dunes; the OHV area contains 3,600 acres of wide-open sand dunes for full-blown fun.
If this area is on your bucket list, plan to visit within the next few years. The OHV area of the Oceano Dunes is expected to close by Summer 2024 in order to preserve wildlife habitat.
FIESTA ISLAND, CA
Fiesta Island is located on Mission Bay just a few miles from downtown San Diego. Activities include but are not limited to windsurfing, jet skiing, and fishing. Designated areas allow dogs to roam free off-leash, and others pave sections for bonfires. Unlike the other beach destinations we’ve mentioned, Fiesta Island does not allow traffic on the beach. Your driving experience is limited to parking on the sand.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
Our honorable mention is just a couple hours south of the border. The Baja California Peninsula is a route that every overlander dreams of trekking through at least once. The vibrant turquoise water and desert landscape accompanied by the feeling of isolation only adds to this epic experience. Undoubtedly, tourism is at its peak between January and March due to profuse wildlife sightings and prime weather. With hundreds of miles of drivable coast, Baja should be at the top of every adventurer’s list.
Now, before you pack your bags, strap up your surfboard, and fill your ARB fridge – be sure to read our Beach Driving Tips blog so you’re fully prepared for a stress-free, adventure-packed beach trip.