San Carpoforo Creek Beach

If you’ve been a loyal reader of my blog since its inception (I’m incredibly grateful for your support!), you’re likely aware that I’m a beach enthusiast hailing (this post from my first part of blogging at campingthecamp.com). Few things in life bring me greater comfort than the rhythmic sound of ocean waves, and today I introduce you to a hidden gem of a beach that I’ve cherished for over a decade – San Carpoforo Creek Beach!

Location of San Carpoforo Creek Beach

Situated just 15 miles north of the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, the beach trailhead forms part of the Los Padres National Forest. San Carpoforo is commonly recognized as the southernmost beach along the Big Sur coast, although a section of the land technically constitutes the northernmost point of Hearst San Simeon State Park. For reference, Estero Bluffs State Park, where you can find one of California’s most easily accessible shipwrecks, is located 30 miles south of this beach. If travelling to Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn, less than 1 mile north of the beach, is an ideal pit stop for dining, fuel, or accommodations.

ADDRESS 18550 Cabrillo Hwy
San Simeon, CA 93452
ACTIVITIES Surfing, Beachcombing, Fishing, Beach Exploration
PARK NAME Hearst San Simeon State Park
PET DETAILS No dogs allowed on the beach
OWNER State Park
FEES Free Parking

History of San Carpoforo

San Carpoforo, or Saint Carpophorus, was a Roman soldier living in the 3rd century AD. He is known for being a Christian martyr who was executed for his faith around 295 AD during the reign of Emperor Maximian. His story is one of courage and steadfastness in the face of persecution.

History of San Carpoforo
History of San Carpoforo

Carpophorus was a soldier in the Roman army stationed in the town of Como, located in modern-day northern Italy. Despite being a member of the military, Carpophorus was also a devout Christian and refused to renounce his faith when ordered to do so by his superiors. As a result, he was subjected to various tortures, including being beaten with clubs, burned with torches, and finally, beheaded.

In the centuries following Carpophorus’ death, his story became widely known, and Christians throughout Europe venerated him as a saint. As Spanish explorers began to explore and settle in what is now California, they often named geographic features after saints and religious holidays to mark their presence and assert their claim to the land. It is likely that the creek, now known as San Carpoforo, was named by one of these explorers in honour of the martyred saint.

Today, the name San Carpoforo lives on as the name of a creek in northern California, which flows through San Mateo and Sonoma counties before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The creek and surrounding area are home to various wildlife, including steelhead trout, chinook salmon, and red-legged frogs, making it an important ecological resource and a historical and cultural landmark.

Some Activities of San Carpoforo Creek Camping

San Carpoforo Creek camping offers a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay. Some of these activities include:

Activities of San Carpoforo Creek Camping
Activities of San Carpoforo Creek Camping

Surfing: The beach is known for its high waves during the winter, making it a popular spot for surfing enthusiasts.

Wildlife Watching: The beach is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including harbour seals, sea lions, and various seabirds. You can observe these animals safely and appreciate the area’s natural beauty.

Beachcombing: With its remote location, San Carpoforo Creek Beach provides an excellent opportunity for beachcombing. You can search for unique shells, rocks, and other interesting items along the beach.

Hiking: Several hiking trails in the area offer stunning ocean views. The San Carpoforo Creek Trail is a well-known trail that follows the creek into the mountains.

Photography: San Carpoforo Creek camping is an ideal location for photography enthusiasts. You can capture breathtaking shots of the rugged coastline, crashing waves, and local wildlife.

Creek or Lagoon

San Carpoforo Creek originate
San Carpoforo Creek originate

San Carpoforo Creek originates 2200 feet in the Los Padres National Forest near Three Peaks. It winds down the mountain for 11 miles before crossing under Highway 1 and continuing towards the ocean. The creek was named after Saint Carpophorus, a Christian Roman soldier executed in 300 AD. Throughout most of the year, a significant sandbar blocks the flow of San Carpoforo Creek, forming a large lagoon at San Carpoforo Beach. Visitors can cross the lagoon by wading through it or using the rocks at the northern end to reach the ocean.

Related: Pismo Beach Camping

Beauty of Beach

This expansive sandy beach is a hidden gem in Big Sur. Compared to popular beaches such as Sand Dollar or Pfeiffer, San Carpoforo Creek Beach remains un-crowded and rarely visited. This beach tends to be cool and windy, even during summer, like most other Big Sur beaches. The dense fog that envelops the area early in the morning adds to the moody and slightly eerie ambience.

San Carpoforo Creek Beach remains un-crowded
San Carpoforo Creek Beach remains un-crowded

North End:

At the northern end of the beach, massive rocky cliffs rise, and during low tide, you can spot sea caves that are visible here. The cliffs and mountains give a glimpse of the stunning beauty of the Big Sur coastline as they drop straight into the ocean.

South End:

The beach’s southern end is just as fascinating, especially during low tide, when you can explore a smaller secondary beach called Ragged Point Beach, located beyond the massive rocks. This secluded beach offers unobstructed views of Ragged Point and boasts a sea cave that is easier to access than those at the northern end. However, it’s crucial to check the tide charts before visiting either end of the beach, as rogue waves can pose a threat.


San Carpoforo Creek Beach is an ideal location
San Carpoforo Creek Beach is an ideal location

San Carpoforo Creek Beach is an ideal location to experience a diverse range of California wildlife. Dolphins are often seen from the shoreline, and seasonal whale migrations up and down the coast are an added attraction. The beach’s central portion is protected and serves as a nesting ground for the snowy plover, a species of bird that can be spotted near the water’s edge. Additionally, cliff swallows make their homes high up in the rocks at the beach’s southern end, and visitors can observe them from March to October before they migrate south for the winter.

You Should Know Before Go

• In Big Sur, leaving valuables in your car is not advisable, especially at trailheads and parking areas. Although this area is generally safe, there have been incidents where possessions have gone missing over the years. So, taking all your important belongings with you is always better.

• Poison oak is abundant off the trail leading to the beach, so it’s best to stick to the trail. If you come across leaves of three, it’s best to leave them be.

San Carpoforo Creek
San Carpoforo Creek

• It’s crucial to pack in and pack out all your belongings. Several years ago, illegal camping left considerable garbage, including plastic and glass bottles. On a recent visit, the area was clean and beautiful, and keeping it this way is essential. So, please be responsible with all your belongings, and ensure you pack out all trash and food.

• To maintain the natural beauty of this place, it’s essential to consider the Leave No Trace principles. So, let’s work together to keep this place wild and beautiful for generations to come.

Here is information of San Carpoforo Creek Beach:

ADDRESS 18550 Cabrillo Hwy, San Simeon, CA 93452. Located on the Central Coast of California along scenic Highway 1.
PARK NAME Hearst San Simeon State Park. Part of the California State Park system.
OWNER California State Parks Department. Managed by the state government.
PET POLICY Dogs prohibited on beach. Pets must be kept on leash in parking areas.
ENTRY FEES No entry fees. Free parking available in dirt lot.
BEACH ACTIVITIES Surfing, beachcombing, fishing, wildlife viewing. Popular spot for surfing and exploring tidepools.
AMENITIES Creek flows into ocean, sand dunes, no facilities. Undeveloped natural beach area. Visitors must pack out trash.
HELPFUL LINKS Aerial photo of beach and creek. Live weather and surf conditions. Tide charts. Beach guides.

Related: Discover the Best Lake Berryessa Camping


Where is San Carpoforo Creek Beach?

Where is San Carpoforo Creek Beach
Where is San Carpoforo Creek Beach

San Carpoforo Creek Beach is in Big Sur, a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. It is 12 miles north of Ragged Point and approximately 40 miles south of Carmel. The beach can be accessed via Highway 1 near the San Carpoforo Creek bridge. San Carpoforo Creek Beach is known for its natural beauty, sea caves, and opportunities for wildlife sightings. It is a popular destination for those looking to explore the stunning coastline of California.

How is San Carpoforo Creek Beach rated?

San Carpoforo Creek Beach is generally rated very positively by visitors. Many people appreciate the beach’s natural beauty, scenic location, and opportunities for wildlife sightings. The beach is also noted for its relatively secluded and peaceful atmosphere, less crowded and more popular beaches in the region. Some visitors have also enjoyed exploring the sea caves at the beach’s north end during low tide. On travel websites, San Carpoforo Creek Beach has received high ratings from visitors who appreciate its beauty, peaceful ambience, and unique features. Overall, it is considered a must-visit destination for those exploring California’s central coast.

What is there to do at San Carpoforo Creek Beach?

San Carpoforo Creek Beach offers several activities for visitors to enjoy, including surfing, beachcombing, and hiking. The beach is also a popular camping spot, allowing one to explore the natural beauty of California’s coastline. However, visitors should be aware of potential risks and take precautions to ensure their safety.


San Carpoforo Creek Beach offers a great way to experience the beauty of California’s coastline. While there are risks involved in some activities, with proper caution and preparation, camping at the beach can be a safe and enjoyable holiday experience.


My name is Evelyn and I started Camping The Camp to combine my love of the outdoors with my background in environmental science. I hope you’ll find helpful as you discover the joys of camping. It’s more than a weekend trip - it’s a chance to disconnect from devices, reconnect with loved ones, and make memories to last a lifetime

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