The 14,500 acre Hollister Ranch is the largest rural subdivision in Santa Barbara County consisting of 136 parcels of approximately 100 acres each. It is a residential development offering residents exclusive overland access to State tidelands that provide exceptional surfing over 8.5 miles of shoreline to the east of Point Conception. The Ranch supports a cattle grazing operation in its open rangeland. The gated entrance is staffed and the shoreline is patrolled by security personnel that actively prohibit public access.
The De Anza Expedition of 1776, the first overland exploration of Alta California by the Spanish, passed through the Hollister Ranch coastline and is currently recognized as a National Historic Trail, although the designation has not been fully implemented to the point of trail construction yet.
The California Coastal Trail is intended to be a continuous trail along the state's entire shoreline that should be located, wherever feasible, within the sight, smell and sound of the ocean. The route of the historic De Anza Expedition is generally considered to correlate with the alignment of the Coastal Trail, and through Hollister Ranch, the Coastal Trail will provide important access to this historical feature in Santa Barbara County. The California legislature outlined the elements involved in completing the California Coastal Trail in their 2003 document “Completing the California Coastal Trail,” which directs the siting of the Coastal Trail and recognizes the necessity of balancing access with environmental sensitivity and landowner rights.
For many years, the Hollister Ranch Owner's Association has administered a beach driving permit program, where residents could pay a fee and drive on the beach. In 2018 the Coastal Commission notified Hollister that this practice violated the Coastal Act and local ordinance, and Hollister has since terminated the program.