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Encinitas – A Beach For Everybody

EVC - San Elijo state Beach Image - Renewww_2024
Everyone claims to have the best beaches. And sure, we may be a little biased, but the diversity of the shoreline here in Encinitas offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to work on your tan, find that perfect shell, catch a few waves, or just take a stroll on a rainy day- we’ve got you covered. So let’s find the beach that’s right for you:
  • Best parking lot for you late risers: South Cardiff State Beach (a.k.a. Seaside)EVC - South Cardiff Beach - Renewww_2024
    • At the southern end of Encinitas lies South Cardiff State Beach, otherwise known as Seaside to the locals. If you’re the type to sleep in, this is the spot for you. Why? Plenty of parking in the middle of summer. While other beaches in San Diego County get fairly crowded during peak days in the summer, South Cardiff State Beach has a big parking lot with plenty of spaces. Run by the California State Parks, there’s restrooms, showers, and plenty of space on the sand to lay your towel. Plus the waves north and south of the area get fun, so bring your surfboard. The parking lot is open sunrise to sundown and there is a nominal fee for parking to help maintain the beach. And if you bring the kids, make sure to check out the tidepools on the south end of the beach at low tide. There’s all kinds of critters to view (but not take as it’s a protected marine environment)! Directions: The last beach in the city so head south along Highway 101 from downtown Encinitas and drive approximately 3.4 miles. 
  • Best beach to get your California groove on: Cardiff State BeachEVC - Cardiff Beach - Renewww_2024
    • Looking to get the quintessential California experience on your next visit to Encinitas? Look no further than Cardiff State Beach. Plenty of Woodies enjoying the sunset in the parking lot, more than enough surfers on longboards hanging ten in the waves, and the odd ukulele being played on the beach. Hawaii may have Waikiki, but we have Cardiff. Not the biggest parking lot (so get there early) but there are showers and restrooms in the pay parking lot. It also has a river mouth that feeds into the San Elijo Lagoon so it’s a good spot to teach the little ones how to surf or just dip their toes in the calmer waters. Directions: Head south from downtown Encinitas approximately 3 miles. If you’ve hit the Kraken or Pacific Coast Grill, then you’ve gone too far (unless that’s your true destination…)
  • Best beach to sleep under the stars: San Elijo State BeachEVC - San Elijo state Beach Image - Renewww_2024
    • Technically you can’t sleep on the beach, but the next best thing is to stargaze in your camp spot on the bluff above. Also a California State Park, this stretch of beach is one of the most sought after camping spots along the California coast due to its location, affordable campsites, fun surf, and beautiful beach with trees. And if you don’t plan to camp, new parking spots were added to Highway 101 if you just want to enjoy it for the day. Besides camping, make sure to take a selfie with the world-famous Cardiff Kook statue, take a walk and enjoy the views along the 1.4-mile Coastal Rail Trail, or grab a gourmet bite across the street at Seaside Market, VG Donuts, and Besta Wan Pizza! Campground address is 2050 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
  • Best family beach: Moonlight State Beach EVC - Moonlight State Beach - Renewww_2024
    • All the beaches in Encinitas are family-friendly, but Moonlight State Beach takes the cake for a variety of reasons: Big sandy beach, plenty of parking in the lot on the hillside, and even a playground for the little ones. There’s also lots of surf north and south of the main beach and the city just did a big remodel of the main lifeguard tower to keep everyone safe. And if you forgot to bring food, look no further than the snack shack with something for the most discerning tastes. Also, if you don’t feel like lugging all your gear to the beach, there are bike and surfboard rentals for your convenience- right next to the bathrooms and showers. Of course, a beach wouldn’t be complete without volleyball courts if you feel like getting a little exercise, or just watch some of the world’s best if that’s more your speed. Directions to the beach: Either go due west on Encinitas Blvd. from the 5 Freeway or head north or south on highway 101 and head to the center of town.
  • Best beach(es) for a little solitude: Beacons and GrandviewEVC - Beacons Beach - Renewww_2024
    • Beacons and Grandview are no secret of course. Just show up on a random weekday with a little surf in the water and you’re bound to run into a few hundred of your favorite surfing buddies. BUT… walk a few hundred yards north or south, and you’ve got a piece of heaven all to yourself. Beacons and Grandview only have 2 entrances in and out- so that leaves miles of sand to explore on your own- or with a friend. There are no bathrooms or food at these locations, but they do have small parking lots. There are though PLENTY of restaurants and surf shops to visit once you’re done along the sand. And if you want to stay awhile, make sure to book a stay at the Surfhouse at Beacons where you can ‘live like a local’. Directions to Beacons: Head west from Interstate 5 or Highway 101 until you hit the parking lot on the bluff above. For Grandview, head north from the center of town and turn on Grandview St. until you hit Neptune. Make a quick right and look for the parking lot on your right hand side. 
  • Best secret beach: South Ponto State BeachEVC - Ponto Beach - Renewww_2024
    • A hidden gem here. Most people drive by on Highway 101 and pass the jetties not thinking twice about this stretch of beach. They see the packed parking on the sand and continue on. But at the very end of Leucadia, tucked away in the trees, is another California State Park with a parking lot, showers, bathrooms, a lookout on the bluff to view the wetlands, and plenty of space on the beach. Plus the surf at the jetties isn’t half bad either. And if you want to live a little, book a room on the cliff above at the highly acclaimed Alila Marea Beach Resort and just valet park while you’re at it. Directions to the beach: Head due west on La Costa Ave. from the 5 freeway. Then make a right on highway 101 and go north about 1/4 mile and make a legal U-turn at the 1st light.
Now this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the beaches in Encinitas, so do some exploring of your own and find a spot that’s right for you! 
Visit Encinitas
Author: Visit Encinitas

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Visit Encinitas


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