Smugglers Cave, just located South of Avila Beach at 1551 Cave Landing Rd. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 is a historic place to visit. This was a place that was once used to smuggle alcohol and other fun indulgences as far back as the early 1920’s. The short hike to the cave landing is an easy walk for anyone, but there are no pets allowed.
You should also be aware of the beach just below this spot. You may see people laying out catching a tan as clothing is optional!
Smugglers Cave History
Many centuries ago, the Portuguese and Spaniards used Avila Beach as there resting spot. After a treacherous journey just south of Vandenberg Air Force Base, the group landed in search for fresh water and food. There, they would stock up and trade goods with the local Chumash Indians.
John Harford began to build the Harford Wharf in 1873, which is just north of Avila Beach Pier. Years later, he sold all of his supplies for $30K to Charles Goodall including boats, horses and cargo.
Harford Pier was used by smugglers in the early 1900’s to move illegal liquor. Unfortunately, as the Depression set in, the pier withered away since upkeep and repairs could not be met. Harford Pier and the attached railway system was sold in 1942 for just over $17K to Elton Tognazzini.
New Life for Port San Luis
Twelve years later, San Luis Obispo County citizens voted to fund and create a Harbor District for the area. They knew the importance of offshore and land access for commercial trade. New life was given to the harbor as five commissioners were elected in to fix this problem.
Tognazzini sold the pier to the state in the late 1950s for half a million dollars. The Harbor Commission set its sights on repairing the area. It is now economically viable while enduring environmental responsibilities to serve the general public. This area including Avila Beach is now a popular tourist attraction with rich history and a booming economy.