San Elijo Surf Spot
This is one of those surf breaks that always seems to have
waves and is always a good time. When I go looking for waves on a day that I
know isn't going to be big, I usually tend to go here first. I have had some
awesome days of surf here, whether it was the 3 foot days of wind swells
with some friends or the 5-6 foot days by myself before a day of work.
The Campgrounds are located at the South end of this
particular stretch of beach and they charge to get in. You either need to
pay a per-night charge or I believe you can purchase a yearly pass. However,
with a California Day Pass, you can park in the San Elijo parking lots, the
Rangers often patrol these parking lots looking for vehicles with no sticker
or pass for the day. Look below for hints to get around having to purchase a
Whenever I want to spend a day at the beach with some
friends or some girls, I tend to head here. The crowds aren't overwhelming,
there's a nice, sandy beach, and the surf always ends up being fun!
This particular stretch of beach is located about 5
minutes South of Encinitas and about 3 minutes North of Cardiff by the Sea.
There are a few signs that let you know when you are about to arrive at the
Campgrounds. While driving South on Highway 101, you can see the waves
breaking below you and for some odd reason, they always look fun!
Click Here for
The Parking Scenario:
Since this beach and surf break is part of the San Elijo
Campgrounds, the parking situation is somewhat tricky. You can camp at the
Campgrounds for a fee for either one night or the whole year I believe. Just
north of the actual Campgrounds, there is a parking lot that requires a
California Day Pass. You can also purchase those for the day or an entire
The San Elijo State beach parking lot
However, if you would like to surf or attend the Beach in these
areas for free, I recommend parking along Highway 101. You can park on the
beach side against the curb heading South or do a u-turn and park on the
side of the road in the dirt heading North. Make sure to watch for the No
Parking signs so you don't receive any tickets from the 5-0. You can easily
park outside of the "pass only" parking and walk through the gate and down
the walkway to the beach.
The parking along Highway 101 is usually pretty open and
if one side is full, the other side usually has some open spots. Be sure to
watch for the red curbs that are marked for Fire and City Vehicles. Also be
sure not to park past the No Parking signs that start when Old Highway 101
merges into a single lane.
Parking along Old Highway 101
Beach Accessibility and Conveniences:
Inside the San Elijo State Beach parking lot, there is a
walkway that leads down to the beach. You must walk past the shower and
restrooms and you will see the pathway. I recommend to bring either shoes or
sandals because some of the walkway is rocky and can be painful if barefoot.
Walkway down to Pipes
There are public restrooms available at San Elijo and
they are maintained fairly well by the City. On top of the restrooms, there
is an awesome shower that feels amazing after a long surf session! It also
has lower shower heads that are good for washing your feet and such.
The restrooms and shower at San Elijo
There are a few Lifeguard
towers located up and down the beach at the San Elijo
Campgrounds, however they seem to be open only during the
Summer season. There is often Lifeguards cruising up and
down the beach in their vehicles if assistance is needed.
Please be sure to take
caution when entering the water, whether or not a Lifeguard
is on duty.
Continue on to The Surf