San Elijo State Beach

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Located along S Coast Hwy 101 & Chesterfield Dr. Look for the Cardiff Kook Statue and the beach entrance is located behind him through the campground.
San Elijo State Beach and campground is located north of San Diego and south of Encinitas. It offers excellent surfing with good waves and breaks year-round.
Why you'll love this beach
Why you'll love this beach
Surf by Day, Stroll by Sunset and Camp for the Night at San Elijo State Beach
San Elijo State Beach
Overview
Explore & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Get There & Parking
Featured Activity
Know Before You Go
Stay Nearby
Similar Beaches

Highlights

Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking
Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking

Overview

Cardiff Kook Statue at San Elijo State BeachLone Surfer Walking Out for a Surf at San Elijo State Beach

The San Diego area is famed for its various beaches, sunny climate and its ocean. Finding the perfect beach for you is a matter of taste and of course it depends on what your favorite activity is. San Elijo State Beach, located at Cardiff by the Sea in North County San Diego, is a great place to consider for surfers and those looking for a place to camp with spots close to the beach.

This long, sandy beach also offers opportunities for beach walking, family picnics, snorkeling and sunset viewing. The beach is open year-round, though some facilities close from November through February.

For surfers, consistent breaks can be found throughout the year, as reefs and sand formations generate the good waves. High bluffs and boulder-dotted beaches add to the dramatic setting of this two-mile long public beach.

Visitors access the beach, which takes up most of the oceanfront land in Cardiff by the Sea in Encinitas, by taking long stairways or ramps to the shore.

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Local Tips
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Things to Do

Camping
Camping
Fishing
Fishing
Running
Running
Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving
Snorkeling
Snorkeling
Sunbathing
Sunbathing
Surfing
Surfing
Swimming
Swimming

The Special Features of San Elijo State Beach

Surfing at San Elijo State Beach

Many people come for surfing, and San Elijo State Beach could be called a surfer's beach, for sure. The waters include a number of breaks, with names coined by locals such as Tippers, Suckouts, Tuttles, and Pipes. Word is that Pipes, at the north end of the park, breaks more consistently throughout the year, offering both a left and a right wave, with the left being the most reliable.

The breaks work well for both longboarders and short boards and include both reefs and sand. Within a 10-minute walk you can access 4 different breaks, so there is always something to choose from. Off-shore kelp beds groom the waves, while the bluffs on shore keep winds against surfers to a minimum.

Camping at San Elijo State Beach

The campground here includes 156 sites, open year-round, with about half the sites having electricity and water hookups. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and sites are pet-friendly, and campers have access to showers, restroom and laundry facilities. Some of the facilities close in the off-season, generally from November to March.

The camping sites have good views of the water and are level. Many are close enough that campers can fall asleep to the sound of the surf crashing on the sandy beach. Dogs are allowed in the campground but not on the beach.

Local Tips
Campground Full?
If you are looking to camp and the campground is full try looking during the week.

Take a Walk on the Beach

Walking below the beautiful bluffs on long, sandy beaches is a favorite activity of beach goers here. The two-mile stretch of public beach is ideal to stroll up and down the strand and watch the Pacific Ocean waves roll in.

Large boulders adorn parts of the beach, a feature that is missing from other nearby beaches, while the high bluffs provide a strategic vista to gaze upon the setting sun.

Good Swimming

Swimming is good here, though everyone should be aware of the possibility for riptides and occasional large waves. A lifeguard sits on a large tower and is on duty from April through October.

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities, as the clear and refreshing waters of the Pacific make for good underwater viewing of the kelp beds and reefs. The beach has its share of wildlife, from the occasional dolphin or whale offshore to seals and a variety of birds.

Surf Fishing

In the off-season, surf fishing the river mouth yields catches of croakers, guitarfish and small sharks, while the rocky area in front of the life guard tower is also promising. The best fishing typically happens in early spring.

How to Get There & Parking

Free Parking
Free Parking
RV Parking
RV Parking
Street Parking
Street Parking

Getting to San Elijo State Beach

A special landmark helps visitors to the park locate it. From the southbound lanes of Highway 101 and Chesterfield Drive be on the lookout for the bronze statue of the Cardiff Kook, a surfer who is balancing precariously on a surfboard. Do not be surprised if the statue has been altered in some way by mischievous pranksters; the address for the park is 2050 S Coast Highway 101, Cardiff CA 92007.

Parking

Parking is best accessed at the north end of the park for those who come for the day, while the campgrounds provide parking for RVs and campers. Parking spots can fill up during the peak season. A fee is charged for parking and the fee increases on holiday weekends.

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Know Before You Go & Tips

Lifeguards
Lifeguards
No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Glass Containers
No Glass Containers
No Motorized Vehicles
No Motorized Vehicles
No Smoking
No Smoking
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Restrooms
Restrooms
Shade
Shade
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available

Helpful Things and Hot Tips

A number of wise actions can make your trip more enjoyable.

Campers Reserve Early

For campers, reserving early is the key to getting the best sites closest to the water, especially in the peak season. Reservations can be made six months in advance, and a few premium sites with full hookups are available at the park.

The off-season months, from November through March can be a good time for activities such as beach walking, wave watching, meditation, and geocaching. You won't have to worry about getting a good parking spot. Be aware that some services, such as the camp store and lifeguard, may be closed at this time.

You Can Rent Gear

Tap into the rental scene, with everything from snorkeling gear to surfing accessories available in the peak season. You can also take lessons for surfing, snorkeling and other activities. We recommend purchasing a Go San Diego Pass for the best savings!

Camp Store

The camp store in the park is open April through October. Firewood, ice and groceries are available. Fires are only allowed in fire rings and never right on the beach.

Be Safe

Practice safety while visiting the beach and keep these things in mind: when walking the beach, keep one eye open for large waves; when swimming, be aware of rip currents and learn how to swim free of one; when surfing, know where rocks and reefs are.

San Elijo State Beach
is Known For:
Camping
Camping
Know This:
Fire Pits
Fire Pits
Lifeguards
Lifeguards
Restrooms Available
Restrooms Available
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available
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Sunny in September

Stay Nearby

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