Avila Beach is hiding a gorgeous, moderately challenging hike that winds through wildflowers and runs along the ocean. It runs through a stunning sea cave in one direction and a clothing-optional beach in the other. So, this Avila Beach trail has something for everyone ready for some adventure, no matter their mood.
We drove up to an overlook where a fairly large parking lot awaits. It isn’t paved, and there are ruts that can be challenging. Keep an eye out when driving in and out. We started hiking the Avila Beach trail from the parking lot surrounded by golden wildflowers, thriving vegetation, and fully-greened trees that seemed to be dancing in the breeze.
The trail is mostly downhill if you start from the parking lot and head toward the fork in the trail. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s almost all uphill when you are heading back to the lot. It isn’t a steep climb, but it can be tricky if you are hiking on a hot day or tired after exploring other parts of the trail.
We came upon the sign that made us choose between the path down to the clothing-optional beach and the trail to the sea cave. We veered right toward the cave. The last time we were in Avila Beach, we had heard about the cave, but I didn’t want to walk down. This time, there was no stopping us!
The cave is a pass-thru. Obviously, it’s a popular hang-out – graffiti fills the cave walls. But it’s quite a thrill when you approach to see the ocean open up behind it. Don’t race through the experience. Take a moment to breathe in the salt air and feel the bit of magic that arrives when the cave opens at the other end and reveals the Pacific and the Avila Beach cliffs beyond it.
Once we got back to the lot, we decided to linger. We walked along the cliff through the wildflowers and enjoyed seeing Avila Beach from a new perspective. It also sparked a desire in us to pop up to Morro Bay for drinks to celebrate our successful hike.
You hike about two miles if you do the entire Pirates Cove Beach Trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but they need to be leashed. If you can do visit Avila Beach in the spring, you will get treated to some truly spectacular wildflowers and lush growth. It’s our favorite time to be there.
Location and Directions
If you are already in Avila Beach, you’ll want to take Avila Beach Drive to Cave Landing Road and park in the Pirates Cove Beach Parking Lot.
For more about our Avila Beach adventures, click here.