San Diego Staycation: Del Mar Beach Cottages

One of the huge benefits of the military is the hotels and campgrounds located on bases around the world. These can make for great places to stay during a PCS, vacation, or staycation. 

We recently took a staycation weekend to a beach cottage located on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, about an hour north of San Diego. Here’s what you need to know:


Book early! Active duty can start booking on the first day of the month, three months in advance. The second and third weeks of the month, reservations open up to retirees and other patrons.  You can book by calling, but I had better luck going in person to the reservations desk. If you need to cancel within 31 days you will be out the cost of a one night stay.

What to Pack

There is a small store located next to the cottages with some essentials, but for the most part you should bring everything you will need for your stay. Don’t forget food, charcoal for grilling, logs for the fire pit. We kept it simple with hot dogs, burgers and s’mores. There is a drip coffee maker in the cottages, but you should bring coffee and filters. A roll of paper towels and aluminum foil also came in handy. Keeping sand out of a cottage that opens straight to the beach is impossible, so consider bringing some slippers to not have sandy feet all the time.

What Not to Pack

We didn’t feel the need to bring any beach chairs since there were 4 indoor chairs, 4 patio chairs and Adirondack chairs with palapas on the beach. A small amount of kitchen tools and paper plates were provided in the cottages. Sheets, blankets, and towels are provided. If you are particular about not sleeping on a lumpy pillow, you might want to bring your own.


For kids there is a playground in walking distance, as well as the kids’ cove area where the beach is protected by a large jetty for calmer waters. Surfboards, paddleboards, bodyboards, wetsuits, volleyballs and footballs are available to rent.


The biggest downsides we read about in reviews were lack of air conditioning, lack of housekeeping and ants. These were all true, but if you think of it more as a “Glamping” experience rather than staying at a beach resort, these aren’t too big a deal.

Are you stationed in San Diego? What are some of your favorite staycations? Comment below!

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