6 Places to Take the Best Vacation Photos in Pismo Beach
From stunning beachfront views to picturesque parks, there’s no shortage of photo ops in Pismo Beach. Photographers and travelers alike flock from near and far to capture the beauty this iconic California coastline has to offer.
Whether you’re planning a destination photo shoot or simply want to capture your vacation, here are six Instagram-worthy spots to add to your Pismo Beach shot list:
1. Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve
Just three miles south of Pismo Beach, you’ll find a shimmering oasis known as Oceano Dunes. Unique to California’s central coast, these dunes offer an expanse of dreamy white, wind-blown sand. Go for sunrise or sunset and get creative among the freshly dusted desert-like mounds. The views are truly magical.
Local tip: Make sure to stick to the Natural Preserve with fellow hikers, as you’ll find yourself dodging off-road thrill-seekers at the State Vehicular Recreation Area next door.
2. Pismo Beach Pier
Follow Pomeroy to the beach and you’ll run right into the historical Pismo Beach Pier. While the pier itself is closed for rehabilitation until early 2019, the beach and boardwalk are open for business. Head to the sandy beach below the pier and take photos between the piles with the ocean as your photo backdrop.
Local tip: Bring a beach chair or hammock and kick your feet up in the shade below the pier on a hot summer afternoon.
3. Dinosaur Caves Park
This 11-acre oceanfront park is popular among photographers for a reason. Situated on the bluffs above sea level, the park boasts panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean while the Pismo Reserve hills serve as a backdrop—offering painted vibrant shades of green and yellow during springtime months.
Local tip: If you’re up for a real photographic adventure, you can take a Dinosaur Caves kayaking tour through a series of naturally formed arches, caves, and rock gardens below the park.
4. Margo Dodd Park
Marked by a charming white gazebo and situated on the ocean bluffs, Margo Dodd Park offers dramatic views of the rugged coastal terrain—making it ideal for capturing vibrant sunset photos.
Local tip: Bring your zoom lens or binoculars. On a good day, you’re likely to spot whales and other marine wildlife not-too-far offshore from this spot. For close ups, walk to the end of Pier Street and explore the tidepools on the beach.
5. Monarch Butterfly Grove
If you visit between October and February, the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is a must-photograph spot. Each year, thousands of Monarch Butterflies migrate to Pismo Beach, forming colorful clusters among the eucalyptus trees. The sight is truly spectacular.
Local tip: From the butterfly grove, take a stroll along the wood-platformed Meadow Creek Trail for sweeping coastline views. Even if you miss butterfly season, the trail is worth a visit.
6. Point San Luis Lighthouse
A hidden gem located just north of Pismo Beach, the Point San Luis Lighthouse feels like traveling back in time. Chock-full of history and charm, the lighthouse has served as the beacon over San Luis Bay for over 128 years and is still active today.
Access to the lighthouse is limited to hiking tours, docent-led tours, and by kayak or SUP but it’s worth the effort for the picture-perfect setting.
Local tip: As you walk towards the lighthouse, look for the swing overlooking the ocean to your left for some truly Instagram-worthy snapshots.
Not to mention, there are plenty of pristine photo ops just steps from your room at the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel. Snap photos from your private ocean view balcony, on the pool deck, rooftop or ground-level patios, or on the lawn–all overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Pack your camera and head to Pismo Beach to capture memories that’ll last a lifetime.