Though small in land size, Cardiff by the Sea is a treasure. What can you do at Cardiff State Beach besides this unusual sport? You can surf, swim, picnic, walk and walk a pet. Located on the San Diego Coast next to the Pacific Ocean, Cardiff State Beach has a gently sloping sandy beach with warm water. The site offers swimming, surfing and beachcombing.
Although narrow and rocky in many spots, Cardiff SB is extremely popular. One reason is that you can see the ocean from Old Highway 101 as you pass by. You can't help but want to stop to enjoy the sunny, San Diego County weather. There are no facilities at this beach, though if you dine next door at several great beach restaurants such as Beach House, you're on your way to a pleasurable afternoon or evening in the sunshine.
Pets are allowed at the beach on leash.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea Beaches include San Elijo State Beach, Pacific Coast Hwy 101 Encinitas, CA 92007
The oceanfront campground, and surfing community are landmarks and icons of Cardiff, which starts at the river mouth, flanked by San Elijo State Beach and Cardiff State Beach, and extending north to Swami's Point in Encinitas.
Cardiff Kook surfer statue that looks goofy is part of the town's pride and/or embarrassment. Surfers say it's lame and not how surfers really look in the water.
Where to go Pipes, is a fun peaky surf break north of the campground, popular with swimmers, sunbathers and surfers alike. San Elijo, the beach in front of the campground is great for families. Cardiff Reef, a pleasant little beach park and surf spot on the south end of the campground where the cliffs end. George's is a popular spot, located just south from the San Elijo Lagoon river mouth, also known as 'Restaurant Row’ as restaurants, like the Chart House and the Beach House, are located right above the beach on Highway 101.
Bathrooms & Showers Public restrooms and showers are available at Cardiff State Beach, and two other locations north of the river mouth Lifeguards Lifeguard stands are staffed seasonally depending on weather conditions and the number of beach patrons.
Activities include surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding body surfing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, spear fishing
Directions to San Elijo State Beach From freeway 5 exit Birmingham Dr. west to San Elijo Ave. and turn left. Take a right onto Chesterfield Dr. and another right onto S Coast Hwy 101. Follow S Coast Hwy a short distance you will see the entrance to San Elijo State Beach. What to Love Tide pools during extreme low tides at Swamis.
What to Know
Strong currents and rip tides, especially around the river mouth.
Big waves during swells - leave the big wave surfing to the pros and stay out of the water during big swells.
Bluff failures. Stay a good 10 feet away from the bluffs and cliffs.
No alcohol or smoking on the beaches.