The best places for photography near Avila Beach

The best places for photography near Avila Beach

Avila Beach is one of my favorite places on the planet. It has all the central coast beach vibes, restaurants, and vineyards. After living here for a couple of years, I decided I would share some of my favorite places for photography.

Can you fly drones?

Drones may not be welcome by all the people who live here, but there are no laws limiting their use. Avila is one of the only beaches near Pismo that allows drones, and it’s not too uncommon to see drone pilots.

Just make don’t fly over people, houses, or near wildlife and make sure you obey the regular drone rules.

South Avila Beach

Some of my best photographs of the beach and pier are taken from the top of the hill at Avila Beach. You can also get a great view of the rock at pirates cove, and if you dare to hike down the steep trails, you can get some great Panos of the beach and town.

San Luis Bay Inn

The largest hotel at Avila Beach is the San Luis Bay Inn. After crossing the bridge in Avila you’ll take a right to the hotel.

If you pull up to the North parking lot, you’ll find an area that overlooks all of Avila. Walk down toward the street, and you’ll find the giant rock on the beach. You can hike up it or walk up the bluffs just north.

Avila Pier

The pier is where everything is happening, so go above, below, out toward the ocean to get a different perspective of the beach. This is probably the oldest pier in the area and is in the process of renovation, but you can still access half the pier.

You can also get great shots of the pier on the south hill or at San Luis Bay inn.

Avila actually has 3 piers. The south pier, the Cal Poly pier, and the port san luis pier (North). The south pier is by far the most popular. The Cal poly pier is the longest pier in the central coast, but it’s only open to students at Cal Poly.

A little further north is the Port San Luis pier. You can park on the pier and there’s a great restuarant.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove Pismo
Pirates Cove

Pirates cove is one of my favorite places for photography near Avila. It’s just a short drive from Avila. Walk all the trails and hike up the hill for a grand view of Avila.

There used to be an arch but it’s now gone. Head down toward the beach and break right to see the cave. There are tons of small trails here, and you can walk all the way to shell beach.

Pirates cove used to be a small homeless community, but recently the city kicked them out. It’s still not the safest place to be at night, but it’s a welcome improvement.

Port San Luis and Lighthouse

To get more photos of wild life, seals, or whales, head to port san luis. You can drive on the pier, get lunch, and check out the local fisherman. Head up the hill and make a reservation to see hike the trail to the lighthouse.

You’ll have to pay, because it’s privately owned, but it’s a great spot overlooking all of Avila. It’s also the only northern area of Avila with an overlook.


As you drive into Avila, you’ll notice a few vineyards, but for the best areas you’ll want to explore Tank Farm road in San Luis. You can actually take Thousand hills road from Avila all the way to Edna.

Along these roads you’ll see plenty of vineyards and wineries. There’s more vineyards to explore in this area along templeton all the way to Morro Bay.


Out of all the places at Avila beach, my favorite area is the sourthern area. The rocks are the most picturesque, and the hill has a great view of the area. My next favorite spot is Pirates cove. There’s beautiful cliffs and scenery everywhere, and there’s plenty of places and beaches to explore.

I hope this article was helpful. For my photography tips be sure to subscribe below.