Cardiff Beaches

If you’re looking for an excellent place to surf in the day and camp on the beach at night, the Cardiff beaches are the right choice for you and your family.
Cardiff Beaches
Overview
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The Neighborhood
Known For
Camping
Surfing
Stay Nearby

See Where Cardiff-by-the-Sea Gets Its Name

Cardiff-by-the-sea, usually referred to as just Cardiff, is full of gorgeous beaches with amazing views. They’re frequented by locals and tourists alike, and there’s something fun to do for just about every visitor.

Some of these beaches are known for their surfing opportunities, with year-round waves and the occasional surfing competition. If you’re confident in your abilities and you can get in enough practice with Cardiff’s waves, you might even rent a surfboard and choose to join in! If you’re still learning the ropes at one of the many San Diego surf schools or you just want to see professional-level surfers in their element, these contests are still a sight to behold.

Cardiff beaches are also known for oceanside camping. Take the family out for a unique experience the kids are sure to never forget, or have a romantic getaway on a moonlight beach. Either way, this is a can’t-miss opportunity.

Most of the beaches in Cardiff are wide and sandy, with plenty of space for sunbathing or building a sand castle. They’re perfect for beachcombing and swimming as well.

Go Surfing with Go Pass!

La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla is home to some of the world's best beaches for surfing, and with your Go Pass, you can enjoy this experience. Whether you are a rookie or a pro, get a full day Surf Board rental. The waters are perfect for those learning.
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Local Tips
What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

The Cardiff Neighborhood

Cardiff is not that far from many of the most popular San Diego attractions. It’s just a 25-minute car ride north of Downtown San Diego and the San Diego International Airport, so it’s not much of a detour on any trip to Southern California. It’s also just a few minutes away from other coastal areas like Encinitas, which features plenty of gorgeous beaches of its own.

Cardiff is a typical beach community with plenty of coastline and lots of history. When you visit, you can also check out relics from the area’s early settlements and mission history along El Camino Real. Other fun things to do include touring the Four Waterfalls Valley or taking a local food and drink tour.

Because of its close proximity to Downtown San Diego, it’s easy to head downtown for a day of fun. If you want to save some money on gear rentals such as snorkels, paddle boards, bikes and more, as well as many popular attractions, consider purchasing a Go San Diego Pass through our link, which offers an additional discount.

The Cardiff by the Sea Lodge is an excellent place to stay if you want to be close to the beaches. This boutique hotel is steps away from the San Elijo State Beach. It features complimentary Cardiff Beaches WiFi service, and its pet policy allows you to bring your dog along for fun in the sun.

If you’re looking for the best pet friendly hotels in San Diego, check out our article where we list out the most accommodating spots for you and your furry friend.

Popular Activities

San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$28 per person
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Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Discounts Available
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Explore San Diego Bay
Explore San Diego Bay
$42 per person
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Surf Lessons in La Jolla
Surf Lessons in La Jolla
$69 per person
Buy Now

Camping and Surfing at the Cardiff Beaches

Camping
Camping
Kayaking
Kayaking
Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving
Snorkeling
Snorkeling
Sunbathing
Sunbathing
Surfing
Surfing
Swimming
Swimming
Tide Pooling
Tide Pooling

The Cardiff Beaches are primarily known for either surfing or camping. The two Cardiff State Beaches are frequented by surfers and feature large but not too challenging waves, with plenty of classic San Diego surf culture. The San Elijo State Beach is an amazing place to camp out on the sand.

Camping

Lifeguard Tower at San Elijo State Beach
If you’ve ever wanted to camp out under the stars and next to the relaxing ocean waves, the San Elijo State Beach is the perfect choice. With its fire pits and convenient nearby restrooms, the beach has made a name for itself with campers seeking a unique San Diego experience.

Surfing

Aerial Looking South from North Beach at Cardiff State Beach
The North Beach at Cardiff State Beach features all kinds of beach day activities. It’s known for surfing due to its two reefs creating big waves, but you can also swim, snorkel, and dive. The beach has lifeguards and restrooms. At low tide, you can check out the tide pools.
Relaxing at Seaside Beach at Cardiff State Beach
Seaside Beach at Cardiff State Beach is a popular surfing locale. The breaks at Seaside Reef and Tabletops Playground draw crowds of surfers, and sometimes the beach even hosts surfing competitions. Convenient facilities include restrooms and lifeguards during warmer months. The beach also has tide pools full of ocean life.

Featured Activity

Kids next to gorilla statue at the San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Spend the day at the iconic San Diego Zoo! Featuring over 3,500 animals and 650 species, this zoo is the heart of Balboa Park. There are multiple exhibits & experiences for all ages to learn about animals and their habitats.
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Cardiff Beaches
are Known For:
Camping
Camping
Surfing
Surfing
This Month's Forecast
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Sep
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Stay Nearby

Cardiff by the Sea Lodge
Boutique Hotel
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Cardiff by the Sea Lodge
from $156 / night
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