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The Jalama relaxation phenomenon begins exactly 14 miles before you reach the beach. Not coincidentally, this is the precise point where you abandon the highway in favor of a windy road that meanders past checkered fields and golden valleys through the oak-dotted hills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Your knotted shoulders fall into a comfortable slump as you navigate the dips and turns with your windows rolled down, welcoming the total absence of exhaust.
Then, before you, the ocean appears, sparkling and deep blue, with no houses or office buildings blocking your view. This is the farthest point on the California coast from Highway 1, and as you walk barefoot down the barren strip of sand that separates the bluffs and the surf, you'll experience a solitude that few Angelenos will ever know.
The campground itself is not quite as conducive to island castaway fantasies—with 110 tent sites, it can turn into a bustling village on summer weekends. But those who camp here have an unusual respect for the area's serenity. (If all they wanted was a cheap place to party, they wouldn't have come so far.)
Camp sites extend from the edge of the beach to a high-up cliff. Sites closer to the water offer two advantages: First, you have better access to the excellent water sports (swimming, surfing, fishing, tide-pooling, sailboarding). Second, you're a quick walk away from the campground store and its legendary Jalama Burger, which approaches culinary perfection when consumed on the beach, just before sunset, with the surf pushing up puffs of wind just strong enough to blow the sesame seeds off your face. Save the roasted weenies for another time—camp food doesn't get any better than this.
Directions: From 101, just north of Santa Barbara, take Highway 1 north for 13 miles and turn left on Jalama Beach Road. It leads to the campground after 14 miles.
Travel Time: Approximately 3 hours
Fee: $16 per night, $2 extra per dog
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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