Jalama Beach Blowout


Jalama Beach offers beauty, tide pools, and something for most everyone in your camping group.

I knew it was a risk, but I couldn’t negotiate the calendar — you know, change June to October. Maybe the weather goddess would look favorably upon Gilda and her passengers for a two-day campout at Jalama Beach campgrounds in Santa Barbara County. Perhaps the goddesses of the sea would seduce Njord, the Norse god of sea and wind, to tame the wind and take a break from springtime upwelling.  All I hoped for was a 2-day, perfectly calm and sunny miracle. Half came into fruition — sunny.

In three words, my grandson details the Jalama Beach campout:  “Windy. Windy. Windy.”  

The granddaughter is more succinct: “Cold!”

Spouse: “It blew my mind.”

Me: “Why hath thou forsaken me?”

I packed fabulous meals to prepare and dazzle the grandchildren: 

  • Hot dogs grilled over the campfire, smothered in chili and cheese, with nachos on the side, finalized with build-your-own-s’mores in a waffle cone. 
  • Hash brown potato and bacon breakfast burritos and sliced oranges.
  • Pita sandwiches for lunch.
  • Sweet sausage and bow tie pasta, apple cookies with melted chocolate and roasted coconut shreds.
  • Pancakes, breakfast sausages and a bowl of cherries.

All to be served on a tablecloth-covered picnic table overlooking the ocean.

We packed our big tent for the kids, and a tub filled with beach toys and quarts of bubbles and wands.

Weather reports say the wind was 20 mpg. I say no way! Try 2-steps away from hurricane force winds.  

No campfire. Camp stove impossible to even keep on a table.

The tent? Uh, well, um, Spouse experienced what it feels like to be attached to a giant sail in the wind. Fortunately, some big fellas in the camp by us ran to the rescue and tackled the flying tent and Spouse before the airlifted tent and Spouse collided with a parked car.

So, the four of us took shelter in Gilda. Cozy. 

First rule: No farting.

Second rule: No kicking or wrestling.

Both rules busted within 30 minutes.

Spouse’s solution:  “Who wants a Jalama Burger?”  It was an unanimous YES!

A few rounds of Uno by electric lantern was geared to prepare and finagle the four of us for sleeping in Gilda.

  1. I’m a miserable sleeping partner. I squirm, flip, get up, and dream loudly. 
  2. Apparently, my granddaughter has inherited my miserable sleeping habits.
  3. Both kids wanted to sleep in Gilda’s top compartment. OMG! How long would that last before they would tangle, and one would howl unnatural sounds from a perceived deadly gut punch?  
  4. Spouse swore he could find his comfort zone on the two front captain seats.

So, we looked like a homeless family as we all piled out in the morning making our way to the camp restrooms.

The wind took a brief break in the early morning. I made the breakfast burritos before we went to explore the tide pools at low tide.

Njord awakened with the warming sun. Wind surfers rejoiced. We packed up and returned home. The campout continues out of the wind, with plenty of power for the kids’ iPads, and no sand between our teeth. Who knew home could be such a perfect campsite?

Jalama Beach, we’ll see you in October.


The grandkids at Jalama Beach


Notes on Jalama Beach

  • Jalama Beach is owned and operated by Santa Barbara County Parks.
  • It’s my opinion that the website requires some patience: https://www.countyofsb.org/parks/jalamacamping.sbc
  • There are 107 campsites PLUS cabins you can reserve.
  • Campsites range from partial hookups to tents.
  • Day use availability.
  • It is off the beaten path, which is a good thing.
  • There is a store, and a grill on site. 
  • There are showers, water spigots, restrooms (all flushers!!!), and a dump station.
  • Campfire rings and picnic tables at all sites.
  • The playground for kids is wonderful. It abuts a grassy area for lawn-time.
  • There are two horseshoe courts.
  • Surfing, windsurfing, kite boarding, fishing and bird watching, not to mention tide-pooling and romantic beach walks at sunset.
Beautiful Jalama Beach sunset
  • We could not get cell service with Verizon. There is a pay phone if needed.
  • Well behaved pets allowed.  Bring proof of rabies shot with you.
Wildflowers on the beach sand
Watch for passing Amtrak trains.
Windsurfers pay homage to Njord.

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