We sure do get a lot of tourists at Pismo beach each summer. As a person who is more comfortable in small crowd settings this means my family and I retreat to our "secret beach" spots during the busy seasons. While the locals love to keep a good secret these beaches and entrances are also a great way to explore a new spot while visiting the area.
1. Grover Beach drive on entrance (from Grand Ave)- Okay I know this one is not so much a secret and maybe you've thought about it like "oh that could be fun".... guys you totally should! This area of the beach allows for bonfires at night so you can load up your car or truck with bonfire necessities and spend an evening watching the sunset and roasting mallows. This is also a much easier option if you're doing beach day with toddlers and are bringing EVERYTHING YOU CAN POSSIBLY THINK OF. Instead of loading dad's shoulders with 5 trips to and from the car, load it in the back of you car and drive it to your little sand spot for the day. It costs $5.00 to be on the sand for the day. Just remember to watch the tides :)
2. Shell Beach- While most people don't think of the Shell beach area of Pismo beach as a great beach spot there are multiple staircases and entrances down the tall cliffs to the water. My favorites are located at beachcomber drive, and the path that walks behind the Inn at the Cove. These beaches are usually quiet and make you feel like you're on your own little island. Be sure to check tide times with both of these beaches, when the tide is high the sand just about all disappears.
3. Dog Beach in Avila beach- Most people who have been to Avila beach will fall in love with the quiet little beach town that it is, and what it has to offer, however if you drive past it toward the port of San Luis there is a strip of sand and beach to the left that the locals like to call "dog beach" but I believe the real name is Olde Port beach. This beach allows for off leash dogs to run free, and also allows bonfires at night. The waves here tend to be really mellow because this beach lies in the heart of the cove protected by mountain and a breakwater.
4. Pirate's Cove- If you live in the area....I know what you're thinking. Yes, pirates cove has been known for being a clothing optional beach. However, I rarely have gone and experienced this. You can get to Pirate's Cove by hiking the ridge trail or by driving at cave landing road. It is a bit of a hike to get down to the sand and is not easy for those with mobility issues, but it is definitely GORGEOUS once you make it. If you're looking for a beach to watch the sunrise, this should be your pick. It's quiet and usually deserted at the odd hours, and you may just share the beach with a few seals.