In San Luis Obispo County is the community of Avila Beach.
The name of the location is derived from Miguel Avila, the owner of Rancho San Miguelito (a Mexican land grant in present-day San Luis Obispo County). The land grant given by then Governor Juan Alvarado to Miguel Avila would included the Pacific Coast (Point San Luis, San Luis Obispo Bay and Avila Beach).
The beach is only a half mile long and because it faces south and because the 600 ft. elevation of Point San Luis, Avila Beach is warmer than other beaches in the Central Coast.
While the waves are not huge, they are great for families that want to learn bodyboarding, longboarding or just people who want to swim in the beach. Also, the location attracts tourists for whale watching as grays and humpback whales come into the area to feed.
The location is a tourist destination, especially for those who don’t want to be at the busier Morro Bay and Pismo Beach locations and Avila Beach is also known for its hot springs.
Avila Beach has a total of three piers: Avila Beach Pier which one can walk on and catch fish, the Hartford Pier for commercial fishing boats to offload (and has been around since 1873) and the California Polytechnic State University Pier, which is part of the university’s marine research program (and is not available to the public).
Avila Beach can be cold during the morning and overcast, but give it a few hours and the sunlight is out and it can get really warm during the afternoons.
If you are wanting to get a BBQ pit, make sure you go early in the morning as the place can really pack up and getting parking can be difficult. I tend to leave early and arrive at Avila Beach earlier in the morning to avoid the huge crowds and get good parking right near the main walkway.
I highly recommend looking at conditions before heading to Avila Beach. For example, if there is high wind, I wouldn’t go. I did that a few times before I went to surf and the sand really obstructs vision and makes things unpleasant if you intend to sit near shoreline.
As for sharks, while I have never experienced one, I do recall back in August 2003, there was a confirmed shark attack and you can see signs posted. But for the several dozen times of me swimming in the area, I have never had any shark-related situations or seen anything during my time at Avila Beach.
You can easily find hotels and restaurants right near the beach but for the most part, it’s one of the more peaceful beaches to visit in California.