Orange County offers some of the most beautiful beaches in California. Thanks to the heavily populated metro areas nearby, pitching a tent on one of these beaches may take more advance planning than campers are used to, but the temperate weather and world-class surfing make the effort more than worthwhile.
Thanks to southern California's temperate climate, beach camping in Orange County is available year round and, apart from a rainy day or two during the wet season (January-March), weather won't be a significant drawback. However, because the water temperature is warmest in late summer, campgrounds tend to be more populated from July through September than at other times of year. If you're just looking to get out in the open and relax a bit, a camping excursion in December should be enjoyable and require less advance planning; however, the water at that time of year won't appeal to any but the most hard-core surfer.
Orange County has four state-run campgrounds and one privately run campground. Private Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort campground is set on a small lagoon and offers guests access to a mile-long private beach. Generally considered the best beach camping in Orange County, Newport Dunes offers resort-like amenities, including a pool, hiking/riding trails that circle Back Bay and boat slip rentals. However, surfers may prefer the camping at Doheny State Beach, right next to Dana Point Harbor. This campground is not as fancy as Newport Dunes; but the sites are shady, spacious and set right on top of some of Southern California's best surfing.