Jalama Beach
Photo by Gabe | Fuji X-E2
JULY, 2017
Central California
Ahhh… Jalama. One of the most beautiful, unspoiled and remote stretches of California’s beaches. It’s quiet, out of the way, and even those who live within a few hours drive are probably unfamiliar with this beach.

We’d heard about Jalama, so we went to check it out. As we headed north on Highway 1 out of Santa Barbara, a small sign for Jalama caught our eye. After a scenic fifteen-mile drive off of the highway through green hills and farmland, we reached the coast and the entrance to Jalama Beach. As far as the eye can see, there is nothing. No homes, no hotels, just mile after mile of beach. Jalama has a campground with day-use and overnight areas, as well as a convenience store and beachfront cafe. It gets pretty windy out here, so tent camping isn’t optimal. What caught our eyes, however, were cabins up on the bluff. Now that’s what I call camping! This first visit, we were awed by the beauty of the area, with no intention of staying, so we snapped a few photos, and made a mental note before heading out.

Valley view heading to Jalama Beach. Let's Photo Trip!
Valley view heading to Jalama Beach
Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2
Flash forward to a year later, and I went online to get some more information about those cabins. While they normally have a two-night minimum, I was able to get a single night’s stay once the summer rush had ended. The cabins, as well as the campsites, fill up quickly for the entire year. We weren’t sure how bare bones these cabins would be, so we packed up the car at home with sheets, blankets, and pillows, just in case.

Mystical, magical – all of this and more. The beauty of this place is its solitude.

We got there ahead of check-in time, so we parked and took a hike along the bluffs that lie just North of the beach and campground. Here, maybe 100 feet above the beach, the trail winds along the cliff’s edge with nothing on the horizon but blue sky and waves. Simply incredible! There are train tracks that lay about 1/4 mile off of the bluff, and every once in a while, you’ll see and hear as the Amtrak rolls past.

After a couple of hours of exploring the bluffs, we headed back, and it was time for check-in. When we got to our cabin, we were pleased with what we found. A lovely one bedroom cabin, a deck out front with chairs looking over the ocean, a (pull-out) sofa, television with Direct TV, refrigerator, kitchen, table and chairs, bathroom, shower, bunkbeds and separate private bedroom with a queen bed – clean linens included! The cabin was spotless, well outfitted and maintained. We were just going to spend the night, so we didn’t bring much, but after loading in our gear, we settled on the porch to enjoy the view.

Quiet road to Jalama. Jalama Beach - Let's Photo Trip
Quiet road to Jalama
Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2
Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner. Jalama Beach - Let's Photo Trip!
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner
Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2
Looking North across Jalama Beach.Lets Photo Trip
Looking North across Jalama Beach
Photo by Gabe ~ FujiX-E2
Railroad trestle -Jalama Beach - Lets Photo Trip

Railroad trestle

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2
We brought a few snacks, but we decided early on to have dinner at the Jalama Beach Grill – just a few minutes’ walk down the hill from our cabin. We’d read all over Yelp that we should try the World Famous Jalama Burger. OK, so it’s windy, you’re tired, and there’s nowhere else to go… but this burger was awesome! Add in some onion rings, fries, and a cold beer, and all is right with the world. They aren’t open too late, so time it right to make sure that you get dinner – unless you’ve got something to cook back at your cabin or campsite.
Birds in formation. Jalama Beach - Let's Photo Trip
Birds in formation
Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2
Northern edge of the Jalama Campground. Jalama Beach - Let's Photo Trip

Northern edge of the Jalama Campground

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji iPhone 6
Sunset from our cabin. Jalama Beach -Lets Photo Trip
Sunset from our cabin
Photo by Steve ~ iPhone 7 Plus
Gabe & Steve in Jalama Beach - Let's Photo Trip
Gabe & Steve
Fuji X-E2
We headed back up to the cabin and grabbed our camera gear to set out and capture some of the day’s fading light. This time, we headed South from the campground, again on a trail that overlooked the bluffs. It’s from here that Gabe captured some of our trip’s most amazing photos.

Back at our cabin, we built a campfire and enjoyed the cold (did we mention it was windy) night with a nice bottle of wine before ending the day.

Mystical, magical – all of this and more. The beauty of this place is its solitude. If you’re looking for a beach with tons of activities, playgrounds, shops, and restaurants, Jalama may not be the best place for you. But if you want to enjoy an incredible and pristine stretch of California’s coast, head out to Jalama. You won’t be disappointed!


  1. Holly

    Thanks, you two, for taking me on a mini vacation while I sit in my chair at work. Photos are stunning! And if I get to make that trip I will be sure to take a windbreaker 🌬

    • Steve Wilson

      Holly- so happy that you enjoyed the post! We love it up there and hope to go back again!

  2. KellyCano

    Seems to be a blissful vacation when you need a place of solitude and beauty. Thanks for all the wonderful information and tips.

    • Steve Wilson

      Thanks so much Kelly! Pack up the camper and take the family there. You won’t be disappointed!

  3. Kathy Wehrley

    Lovely photos and arresting prose. You two have a knack for this. Thank you for the mini getaway this morning.

    • Steve Wilson

      Thanks, Kathy! If you’re ever out this way, we’ve got some great places to share with you!

      • Kathy

        If I get out there, the two of you will be the first people I call!

  4. Lisa Anderson

    As usual, an awesome post.
    Jalama is such a jewel! I often make the trek just for a couple hours when I pick up my wine in the Santa Rita Hills. It’s worth the drive for my sanity…I love to camp, so bringing the tent isn’t an issue for me or the kids when they come along. The hubby? He’s like you guys, he prefers the cabins. Haaaa

    • Steve Wilson

      Lisa – thanks so much for your kind words! Jalama is amazing and we can’t wait to go back. We don’t mind camping but I have heard stories about getting blown around there in the middle of the night – and we didn’t want to have one of those stories for ourselves! Thanks for following along!!

  5. Karen

    I love your website and will be sure to stop by Jalama Beach when I have some time off. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and travel tips.

    • Steve Wilson

      Thanks so much Karen! Glad to have given you someplace new to visit and check out. You’ll love Jalama … we did!!


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