San Diego Tourist Guide

Cardiff Beaches

Cardiff State Beach, San Elijo State Beach,
George's Beach, San Elijo Lagoon and Cardiff Reef.

San Elijo State Beach is one of the few beaches in San Diego County that allows overnight camping. The campsites are located on top of the bluff overlooking the ocean. Not all sites have an ocean view so keep that in mind. The park road separates the bluff side campsites from the standard inland campsites.

San Elijo campsites fill up months in advance with reservations through the Reserve America website. Fees range from $16 a night to $44 per
night depending on season, ocean side or inland side campsite and hook-up options. For those who like to camp yet remain connected, San Elijo is perfect with its WiFi network from AT &T.

Access to the beach is provided by spaced out staircases throughout the park. The beach is a narrow strip of sand against the bluffs, perfect for walks, jogs or castle building. The reef offshore is popular with surfers for its consistent and powerful wave. Snorklers and divers also flock to the reef for viewing undersea life.

To the south of San Elijo State Beach is Cardiff State Beach with its vast, wide open stretch of sand. Cardiff State Beach features showers and restrooms. You must pay to park in the main parking lot or you can park on the street and walk in.

San Elijo State Beach and Cardiff Reef are located near the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea which features restaurants for any budget. The upscale Charthouse is located right on the beach south of Cardiff Reef. You can walk along the beach to get to the Charthouse or ride your bike from the campground along Highway 101.

Just south of the Charthouse is George’s Beach, a narrow stretch of sand against large rocks. This is the most primitive of the beaches along this portion of Highway 101 with only a single outhouse. You park right off the highway and must work your way over the rocks to the beach just a few steps away.

Las Olas is a popular take-out or dine in casual Mexican Restaurant across the highway from George’s and the Charthouse. Grab an order of rolled tacos and enjoy a picnic on the beach that typifies southern California beach grub.

On the inland side of Highway 101 is the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands. The reserve features 5 miles of hiking trails and a Nature Center. This special habitat is home to over 300 species of plants, over 20 species of fish, over 20 species of amphibians and reptiles, over 24 species of mammals and close to 300 species of birds including 65 nesting birds. So bring along your hiking boots and binoculars and spend a little time at the Reserve.

Getting to these beautiful beaches is easy. Take the Birmingham Drive exit off of Interstate 5 and head west until you reach San Elijo Avenue. Turn left on San Elijo Ave and then right on Chesterfield. You will cross the railroad tracks and then intersect with Highway 101. The beaches are right there!

San Diego, California