As you leave Shell Beach traveling north on the 101…look for the Avila Beach exit almost immediately. Turn left and travel down through giant sycamore trees past several hot springs resorts and a lovely golf course lined with lovely homes.
Avila Beach is a small town with a population of under 1,000 people and a rich history of tragedy. In the 1990s
Unocal had an underground oil spill causing years of litigation. The result was replacement of the soil and
rebuilding much of the town. Few old buildings are left save the lighthouse built in 1890. There was a well
publicized shark attack that caused tourism to virtually stop for a time in 2003 and the entrance to Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is just across from the pier.
So - why Avila Beach? It is quiet and peaceful and the beach is sheltered in the San Luis Bay and faces south so it is protected from the wind and is usually warmer than any other beach in the area. It is not crowded so you can walk along the shore and out onto the pier and hear your self think. You can ride bicycles and visit the Avila Valley Barn with your kids (open May through December) and pick berries or apples or pumpkins or maybe take a hayride and pet some farm animals. It seems the fertile soil combined with warm days and cool nights creates the perfect growing conditions for many types of crops. Or…you can take a fishing boat (1/2 day or full) and catch more fish than you can imagine! We also have it on pretty good authority that you can brave the trail down to Pirate's Cove for a bit of nude sunbathing.
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