Cardiff State Beach

Coast Hwy 101 between San Elijo inlet and Solana Beach.
Cardiff by the Sea, CA (map)
(760) 633-2740
More info: Website

Beach Highlights

Located in Cardiff, CA, Cardiff State Beach has a gently sloping sandy beach with warm water. The beach offers swimming, surfing and beachcombing. The beach has a large parking lot and restrooms.


Cardiff State Beach stretches from the inlet of San Elijo Lagoon south to the bluffs of Solana Beach. Just north of the lagoon inlet is San Elijo State Beach and San Elijo State Beach Campground. There are two reefs. At the north end sits Cardiff Reef, which can create good waves for surfing and is the world class surfing place in North San Diego County.

At times, you can watch kite surfers streaming through the surf, and identify this Cardiff beach from far away by seeing all the kites.

The Cardiff Beach reefs and kelp beds also provide for good diving. Lobsters can be found in the beds. The area makes for a good night dive, particularly due to easy beach access.

At the south end of the beach are the Cardiff Beach Tide Pools. This section of beach is called Seaside Beach, named after Seaside Reef, just offshore. The reef provides good surf conditions for swimmers and surfers.

The long stretch of good quality sand makes this beach ideal for walking, jogging, and sunbathing, most noteably during low tide. At high tide, much of the sand disappears. During winter storms and excessively high tides, the surf has crashed through the restaurant windows, closing the places for repair.

Other Useful Information

No alcohol, contained fires (in a barbeque) only. It is the only beach around where you can bring a dog provided that you have it on a leash at all times. The tickets are hefty.

Cardiff State Beach has a parking lot directly next to the beach, just north of restaurant row. There’s a fee to park during summer. Parking is also available along side the beach side of Coast Hwy 101, south of the entrance. If you’re up for the walk, you can park along the beach side of Hwy 101 by the San Elijo State Beach Campground.

There’s also a large pay parking lot at the south end of Cardiff Beach, just off the hwy. This section of beach is called Seaside Beach, named after Seaside Reef.

6 am to 11 pm

Lifeguard Towers Open: 10am – 6pm during the
Summer Season (late June to Labor Day)

Contact Encinitas Lifeguards
505 South Vulcan
Encinitas, CA 92924
Emergency (760) 633-2750
Business (760) 633-2748
Junior Lifeguards
(760) 633-2752
Fax (760) 633-2626