Wish You Were Here: Jalama at Night

by Chris Dixon


Photo by Chris Dixon

Take a full moon rising over the Santa Ynez mountains, throw in a smattering of clouds hovering over a surging Pacific, add a generous sprinkling of stars and an otherworldly northern light from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and stir with a long-exposure from a nice, new Nikon, and you’ve got Jalama Beach, one of the remotest, most jaw-dropping beaches south of California’s Lost Coast.

Jalama is reached via a serpentine 14-mile drive through a sublime old west landscape of rolling hills, chaparral, majestic oak and longhorn cattle that has managed to escape the bulldozer, grader and Spanish-style tract house that afflicts so much of southern California. It’s a wide, arcing crescent of coarse sand, epic waves, damned big sharks, scouring, frigid winds and mesmerizing beauty. Now that the kids are back in school, and the noisy RV families have packed up, you can find a beachfront Jalama campsite all to yourself through Santa Barbara County Parks. 

To learn more about Jalama and some of the best coastal overnights from Point Conception southward, here’s a story I wrote for The New York Times a few years back about fall coastal camping in Southern California.

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