San Elijo State Beach

Coast Hwy 101 between San Elijo Lagoon
inlet and Encinitas border
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA (map)
More info: Website

Beach Highlights

San Elijo State Beach is popular for both swimming and surfing in Cardiff, CA. San Elijo beach has a reef, known as Pipes, which offers good surfing conditions for surfers. The reef is also good for snorkeling and diving. Along top of the bluff above is the popular San Elijo State Beach Campground.

At the north end of the San Elijo State Beach, tall bluffs make the beach more secluded and less accessible. As you go south, the bluffs gradually taper off until the beach is level with the campground, separated only by a fence. At the south end, the beach comes up to the inlet to the San Elijo Lagoon. Across the lagoon inlet is Cardiff State Beach.

The sandy beach is ideal for walking or jogging during low tide. High tide leaves little if any beach.

Just above San Elijo Beach, a walking path runs parallel with Coast Hwy 101, and connects Swami’s Beach with Cardiff State Beach. The path is especially scenic just north of the campgrounds, with a beautiful ocean view.

Other Useful Information

No alcohol
No Glass Containers
No dogs north of Lifeguard Tower 7. Dogs permitted south of the tower on a leash.
Contained fires (in barbeques) only.

Beach Access
For those parking at the north end of the campground in the parking lot, there’s a stairway to the beach. Further north, the next access is a stairway at Swami’s Beach. Inside the campground there are stairways at various intervals. At the south end of the beach, you can enter from the foot path by the Coast Hwy just before the inlet overpass.

There’s a narrow parking lot on the San Elijo Beach bluff at the north just north of the campground. There is free parking all along Highway 101. Lots of people park across the railroad tracks on San Elijo Road. It is still a pretty short walk, if precarious, to the beach.

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

Disabled Access
Beach wheelchair is available. Call (760) 753-5091 for information.

In all, San Elijo State Beach offers some peace and seclusion from the traffic and urban life above the cliffs. It’s a beach used by camp goers but is a public beach to be enjoyed by everyone.