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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 pass.

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!


Location:

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 Directions


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 year.

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

Lifeguard:

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.

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