Beaches of Encinitas-A Photo Tour

Beacon's Beach Beaches of Encinitas

 I have been coming to the beaches of Encinitas for over thirty years, and boy do I have enormous amounts of pictures to prove it!  If I had to pick my favorite stretch of beaches on the 70 miles of coast in San Diego, it would have to be, the beaches of Encinitas.

Would you like to join me on a tour?

Let’s Go!

The Beauty of Encinitas Beaches

The beaches of Encinitas cannot be defined by any single word, but by many. Spectacular, astounding, magnificent, eye-catching, and breathtaking immediately come to mind as far as recalling past trips to this area.

I love the beaches of Encinitas. Is that possible?  Well, I say yes, and this is why.

These beaches are not only beautiful to the eye but serene and comforting to the soul to boot.

There is so much to take in and to be a part of when encountering the beaches of Encinitas for the first time, that you may have sensory overload.

The sheer magnitude of the towering cliffs, coupled with the soft sand beaches and the lulling of the offshore waves, it just might be too much for some people. My suggestion is to take a deep breath and draw the beauty and energy within and hold it for awhile.

The Beaches of Encinitas

Moonlight Beach Beaches of Encinitas
Moonlight Beach

Hands down the beaches of Encinitas are some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Southern California,

Surrounded by Batiquitos Lagoon to the north and San Elijo Lagoon to the south, the beaches of Encinitas cover 6 miles of rugged coastal terrain. All beach entries are by bluff except for Moonlight State Beach and Cardiff State Beach where both have street level access.

Encinitas Map Beaches of Encinitas

The beaches of Encinitas (Spanish for “little oaks”) are approximately 25 miles north of Downtown San Diego in the North County area of San Diego County, California.

When imagining the stereotypical beach town, Encinitas might come to mind. There is easygoing, laid back and mellow vibe here in Encinitas and the people are friendly and warm to each other here.  Go figure!

 The surf culture rules here and is evident just by the sheer amount of surfboards seen everywhere. Surfer.com named Encinitas as the #7 Best Surf town in America in 2017.

The Beaches of Encinitas Through the Years

Stonesteps Beach Beaches of Encinitas

 For over 20 years my family and I have been walking up and down this part of the San Diego coast endless times. Whenever we have a chance to go to the beach, we would always end up at Moonlight State Beach.

This beach is centrally located so sometimes we would venture south and occasionally north. and remember, I have the pictures to prove it!

We will now start our tour of the beaches of Encinitas beginning at the most northern beach, Grandview Beach.

Ok! Let’s go!


Grandview Beach

I would like to give special thanks and credit to IrishLegacy14 for allowing me to use this incredible video showcasing the beauty and exquisiteness of the northern beaches and offshore waters of Encinitas.

 

Grandview Beach located at the most northern end of the city of Encinitas,  in the community of Leucadia. You will find the entryway for this beach squeezed in the corner of a residential area along with small parking lot.  Once parked, there is a very long and steep staircase that will take you down to the sand.

At the base of the stairs, there is a lifeguard tower as well as a shower. This beach is preferred for surf schools to teach beginners at because of the consistent beach break.

This beach is narrow, so it is very dependent on the tide.  There are no restrooms here, but Carlsbad’s South Ponto beach is less than a mile walk north if you need to go.

1700 Neptune Ave, Encinitas CA 92024

Grandview Beach Access Sign

Grandview Beach Parking Lot Sign
There are about 20 spaces in the parking lot.

Grandview Beach Stairway Beaches of Encinitas

Above North View Grandview Beach bluffs sandy beach

Above South View Grandview Beach

South View Grandview Beach Beaches of Encinitas


Beacon’s Beach

Beacon's Beach Switchback Trail

Beacon’s Beach is 1 mile south of Grandview Beach located on Neptune Ave between Jasper St and West Leucadia Boulevard.

This beach is one of the leading neighborhood beaches in the area that has an iconic narrow switchback dirt path that turns three times against the bluff before reaching the bottom.

Fun Fact- This beach once had a Coast Guard beacon tower, located north of the dirt path that would help guide warships during WWII.

Beacon’s beach is known as a local hangout for surfing as well as its picturesque views. This beach has no restrooms.

948 Neptune Ave, Encinitas CA 92024

(760) 633-2740

Beacon's Beach Trail Beaches of Encinitas
The Beacon’s Beach Trail

Beacon's Beach Ocean View

South View Beacon's Beach

North View Beacon's Beach

South View Beacon's Beach Beaches of Encinitas

North View Beacon's Beach
North of here is where the Coast Guard Beacon used to be.

City of Encinitas Beach Sign

Beacon's Beach Bluffs Beaches of Encinitas

Beacon's Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Beacon's Beach at Low Tide
Beacon’s Beach

Beacon's Beach Bluffs Beaches of Encinitas

House of Bluff Beacon's Beach

Beacon's Beach Bluffs Beaches of Encinitas


Stonesteps Beach

Stonesteps Beach Entrance Sign

Stonesteps Beach is located north of Moonlight Beach and is a local favorite spot because hardly anyone knows about it.

At the top of the stairs, there is a small parking lot. A steep staircase takes you down to a narrow stretch of beach with many stones. Again this beach is tide dependent, and it is not unheard-of getting stuck when the high tide comes in.

The cliffs are unpredictable in this area, so if you are interested in sunbathing here, do not lie too close.

There are no restrooms here, but Moonlight State Beach is just a short stroll away.

350 South El Portal, Encinitas CA 92024

Underneath Stonesteps Beach Stairs
Stonesteps Beach Stairwell.

South View Stonesteps Beach

Stone Heart on Stonesteps Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Stony Stonesteps Beach

North View Stonesteps Beach

Stonesteps Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Pelicans Over Stonesteps Beach

South View Stonesteps Beach of Encinitas

Stonesteps Beach people seaweed piles

California sea lion Stonesteps Beach
A California Sea Lion visited Stonesteps Beach one day.
California Sea Lion Stonesteps Beach
Do you notice the yellow tag on its right flipper?

Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Of all the beaches of Encinitas, Moonlight State Beach is the most popular.

First of all, this beach is in the center of town, and likewise, it is one of the few beaches in North County San Diego that has level car access and a drop off point (on B St.) to the beach. And one more thing,  there is a significant free parking lot!

Did I mention that parking is free? Well regardless if parking is free or not, during the primetime hours (12-4), you will have a hard time finding a place to park, so patience is a must!

 Some other great features offered at this beach include ample restrooms, a food stand,  a beach rental stand, three volleyball courts,  a grassy park, a children’s playground, picnic tables, and fire pits. This beach has everything, including the crowds but it is not that bad.

 The waves can get rough at times, but there are three lifeguard towers always watching the action.

Urban Runoff and Moonlight State Beach

Cottonwood Creek Moonlight State Beach
Cottonwood Creek
Cottonwood Creek Runoff Beaches of Encinitas
Cottonwood Creek runoff- As a rule, do not play in this water, it can make you sick.
Moonlight State Beach Beaches of Encinitas
The creek water was making its way onto the beach.

Cottonwood Creek empties into the ocean at Moonlight Beach, so this should be kept in mind if you are to visit this beach after it rains.

As a rule of thumb, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health advises not to go into the ocean or bay waters for up to 72 hours after it rains due to potential health hazards from the urban runoff.

Moonlight State Beach Special Events

  • Free summer concerts every Sunday.
  • Encinitas Beach Kids- a non-competitive beach program for kids ages 6-8 with the emphasis on learning beach safety and awareness, first aid, marine life awareness,  introduction to body surfing and just having fun on the beach.
  • The local Temple Solel holds some of its services down on the beach.
  • Volleyball tournaments and held here year round.
  • Surf Camps for adults and children offered on this beach.
Temple Solel Service Moonlight State Beach
Temple Solel conducting services on the beach.

Fun Fact- In the early 1900s, there was a bathhouse, playground, a boardwalk, and a dance hall situated here at this beach. Moonlight Beach got its name around this same time, because people would come out here at midnight when the moon was bright and have picnics.

400 B St. Encinitas CA

(760) 633-2740

North view Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Summer Day At Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Summer at Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach Parking Lot
The parking lot up on a hill for Moonlight State Beach.
Moonlight Beach Ramp Beaches of Encinitas
Here is the ramp that goes up to the parking lot.
Moonlight Beach Ramp
Another ramp going up to the street and a further drop-off point.

Moonlight Beach Sunset Beaches of Encinitas

Moonlight Beach Parking Lot Sunset

Moonlight Beach Sunset

Moonlight Beach Palm Tree Beaches of Encinitas

Moonlight Beach Surf Circle
Surf Circle in the distance.

Sunset at Moonlight Beach

Overcast Day Moonlight Beach

Sunset Water Play Moonlight Beach

Sunset at Moonlight Beach Beaches of Encinitas


D Street Beach

D Street Beach Beaches of Encinitas

D Street Beach is another favorite surfing spot for locals, so much so, that many on the website Yelp, have left reviews begging (in so many words) others keep quiet about its location. With this in mind, let us have a look at D Street Beach.

This beach is located at the end of D Street just one block south of Moonlight Beach.

This southern portal has a large wooden staircase with an observation area that connects you down to the beach. At the bottom, there is one lifeguard tower and shower and a short walk to a restroom at Moonlight.

D Street Beach Beaches of Encinitas
D Street Beach stairway.
D Street Beach Beaches of Encinitas
A view of D Street Beach from Moonlight State Beach.

D Street Bluff Beaches of Encinitas

D Street Bluffs Beaches of Encinitas

D Street Beach seagulls seaweed

Overcast D Street Beach Beaches of Encinitas
Overcast day at D Street Beach.

D Street Beach South View Beaches of Encinitas

Great Egret Bluff D Street Bluffs

North View D Street Beach

D Street Beach Pelicans over bluffs
Pelicans flying over D Street Beach

450 D Street, Encinitas 92024


Boneyard Beach

Boneyard Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Boneyard Beach is another favorite surfing spot which includes all of the beach south of D Street Beach and north of Swami’s Beach.

This a dry sandy beach during low to mid tide but is not accessible during high tide. The bluffs are very steep here, and therefore the homes on the cliffs above cannot see the beach below. Because of this, this beach attracts the ‘clothing-optional’ kinda crowd.

North View Boneyard Beach

Boneyard Beach Cliffs seeping water

Boneyard Beach Cliffs Beaches of Encinitas

Boneyard Beach Cliffs Beaches of Encinitas

Boneyard Beach Bluff closeup

South View Boneyard Beach

Boneyard Beach Algae Cliff

beaches of encinitas

Boneyard Beach Bird Reflected Sand

Boneyard Beach Cliffs Beaches of Encinitas

Boneyard Beach Palm Tree Beaches of Encinitas

South View Boneyard Beach

Boneyard Beach Rocks

End of Boneyard Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Fishing at Boneyard Beach
An angler fishing in the surf.

If you are interested in seeing this beach, you may start north at Moonlight or D Street Beach of just south at Swami’s Beach.


Swami’s State Beach

Marine Protected Area Sign Swami's State Beach

Located right next to the Self-Realization Fellowship Center Temple and north of the San Elijo State Beach Campground, you will find the entrance to Swami’s Beach-Swami’s Seaside Park.  To be sure, this is another beach of Encinitas that the locals want to keep secret. Shhhhh.

This park has about 25 parking spaces, a large grass lawn, picnic tables and a restroom. A large wooden staircase will take you down to this isolated beach oasis.

 Three miles offshore, from Moonlight State Beach down to Cardiff State Beach, you will find the Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).  Designated in 2012 this site purpose is to protect marine life by limiting the removal of marine wildlife from within its borders.

Fishing onshore with hook and line is permitted, but no scoop nets are allowed. You may also spearfish here but only for pelagic recreational finfish (Pacific bonito and white sea bass), sorry no halibut.

For more fishing information go here.

Swami’s beach is world-famous when it comes to surfing. At any time of the day, you will find other surfers up top checking out the action.

There is a reef and kelp forest offshore, so diving and snorkeling are also popular. If you would like more detailed information on this beach, please go here.

1298 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas CA 92024

beaches of encinitas
View of Swami’s State Beach from the end of Boneyard Beach.

Swami's Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas

Swami's Tidepools wave hitting rock

Swami's Tidepools mussels sea anemones
Tidepools at Swami’s State Beach
California Mussels Swami's Tidepools
California mussels.
Swami's Beach Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas
Super low tide at Swami’s State Beach.

Swami's State Beach Tidepools

Swami's State Beach Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas
A local college was down here taking measurements of the tide pools at Swami’s Beach.

Swami's State Beach Reef

Swami's State Beach Tidepools

Swami's State Beach Tidepools

Swami's State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Swami's Beach Staircase Beaches of Encinitas
Swami’s State Beach staircase. Let’s take a walk up to the top.

Swami's Staircase Going Down

Swami's Beach Staircase Beaches of Encinitas
Entrance to the stairway.
Swami's Beach Sign Beaches of Encinitas
Entrance Sign at Swami’s Beach Seaside Park

Swami's Tree Sculpture Beaches of Encinitas

Swami;s State Beach Staircase

North View Swami's Beach Beaches of Encinitas

South View Swami's State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Swami's Beach Staircase bluffs palm trees

South Swami's Beach cliffs vegetation sand
I love how old all of this vegetation is, especially the palm trees.
Rock Art At Swami's Beach Beaches of Encinitas
Rock art at Swami’s State Beach.

Swami's Beach South View wet sandy shore ocean

Dolphins at Swami's swimming by
We saw a pod of over 20 dolphins before we left for the day!


San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

The San Elijo State Beach entrance is on the southbound lanes of the 101 near the intersection of Chesterfield Drive.

 The San Elijo State Beach Campground is on top of the bluffs with the campsites overlooking the beach below. There are several stairways and ramps nearby connecting from the campgrounds down to the beach.

 Many reefs are right onshore here, so tide-pooling is popular as well as diving offshore in the kelp forests. This beach can be dangerous to swim in due to rip currents so be cautious.

Restrooms and showers are available at the campground.

2050 S. Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff CA 92007

(760) 753-5091South View San Elijo bluffs wet sand bluffs

San Elijo State Beach two girls walking

San Elijo Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas
San Elijo Tidepool
San Elijo State Beach Campground stairs bluffs wet sand
All the staircases lead to the San Elijo State Beach Campground.
San Elijo Staircase Bluffs Palm Trees
Let’s go up and see the view.
San Elijo Beach Looking down ocean
View from the San Elijo State Beach Campground.

San Elijo Coastal Bluff Information Sign

North View San Elijo State Beach

Surfing San Elijo Pipe
Surfing at San Elijo (Pipes).

San Elijo Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas

San Elijo Tidepools Beaches of Encinitas


Cardiff State Beach

Surfing Cardiff State Beach reef surfer walking seaweed

Cardiff State Beach is at the southernmost section of Encinitas in the coastal community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, south of the San Elijo State Beach and where the San Elijo Lagoon enters into the ocean.

The San Elijo Lagoon is one of the most extensive remaining coastal wetlands in San Diego County, covering over 1000 acres and hosting over 1000 plant and animal species.

This beach is a gently sloping sandy beach that is very popular when it comes to surfing, swimming, diving, and beachcombing.

Cardiff State Beach offers a whole list of amenities as well as two restaurants on site.  This beach is particularly perfect for kids as there is so much to see and explore.

Notably, dogs are allowed here provided that they are on leashes. No other beach in Encinitas allows dogs, even on leashes.

There is a parking lot available for 15 dollars, but the lot closes at 10 pm.

2504 S. Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff By The Sea, CA 92007

(760) 753-5091

Carlsbad State Beach Reef

Cardiff State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Surfing Cardiff State Beach Beaches of Encinitas

Cardiff State Beach Tidepool Beaches of Encinitas

Cardiff State Beach Reef Beaches of Encinitas

Cardiff State Beach Parking Lot
Looking toward the Cardiff State Beach from San Elijo State Beach.
San Elijo Lagoon Inlet
Here is where the San Elijo Lagoon meets the Pacific Ocean.
San Elijo Lagoon Inlet Beaches of Encinitas
San Elijo Lagoon inlet.
Cardiff State Beach Beaches of Encinitas
Cardiff State Beach- looking toward Solana Beach in Del Mar.

People on the Beach Cardiff State Beach

Seaside Beach South Cardiff State Beach
South Cardiff State Beach
South Cardiff State Beach Beaches of Encinitas
Seaside Beach- South Cardiff State Beach

The End of the Tour

 First off I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this tour of the beaches of Encinitas!

Generally speaking, I am also curious to know which one of these beaches caught your attention the most. You can see the beauty, right?  To put it differently, which of these shores would you like to visit if you had the chance?

May I suggest you come here on a shallow tide day and that way you will be able to walk the entire 6 miles of Encinitas coast. Starting from Cardiff all the way north of Grandview Beach to Carlsbad! But remember those 6 miles will soon turn into 12 before you know it.

Please leave any comments or questions you might have.  Also, I would love to see any favorite beach pictures that you might have and would like to share. Here is to another day and another beach!

Until next time!


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Beaches of Encinitas

I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!

20 Replies to “Beaches of Encinitas-A Photo Tour”

  1. That’s a lovely beach. I love beaches too. I have been to California once but didn’t know about this place, then. Great detailed post and lovely photographs.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Subhadeep. Thank you so much for visiting my site! Maybe next time in California you could visit Encinitas, it really is gorgeous. Thanks again!

  2. Wow those are beautiful pictures, did you take them? Being somoene who grew up along the coast, I’ve always been known as a beach kid. I mean really how awesome is the ocean? lol. I’ve never been to California but it looks and sounds awesome; more specifically the encinitas. That picture of a sea lion is crazy, I’d be terrified. You’ve given me a new set of places to visit though. Are the waves good there?

    1. Thank you for visiting Jasmere! It is great to find someone who loves and appreciates the ocean as well! Regarding the sea lion, I think he was just tired, so as long as you stand far away from him, no worries. The waves on these beaches that I presented are all pretty famous surf breaks. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you Michael. I have been taking many, many pictures since I got my first digital camera in 2005. I have many more from where these all came from😀. I feel very fortunate to live in Southern Calif and I have been having a lot of fun trying to uncover many San Diego Beach Secrets. Thanks for visiting the site!

  3. Hi there!

    I live in Nelson, New Zealand at the moment and we have such stunning nature and beaches here as well.

    But beauty´s you have picked there! Unreal. I think Swami´s State looks the most interesting… I´ll visit at one point 🙂

    Thanks for that list, make me want to travel more!

    1. Hi Manny! Thank you! Going to New Zealand and Australia is my Dream vacation! I love Swami’s too. There is such a cool vibe there and to end the day there with dolphins, it is magical. Thanks again for visiting my site.

  4. Super informative post! I did the PCH drive a couple years ago from SF to LA and it was so beautiful! I’ve never been to SD, but seeing how beautiful it is really makes me want to visit now!

    1. Thank you Stacy. When I moved to San Diego I was instantly in love with all of the beaches! The beaches of Los Angeles I would go to growing up look nothing like this. Thanks again!

  5. Wow such amazing pictures all look like places I would love to go. I live in California and have never been here to these beaches. I will go when it warm back up though you have me sold on this. I am book marking this page to keep it for the warmer season .thank you for sharing this website.

    1. Thank you for visiting Crystal! I just love this place and hope to retire here in the future! I am glad you enjoyed the pictures.

  6. Hello and wow! This really felt like a virtual tour! I so enjoyed it.
    I love the coast line. It is so dramatic and beautiful. This made me want to come back and visit. Great job! ariel

  7. Hi there, wonderful these beaches. I’ve been to northern California a long time ago but never to San Diego.
    Looks like it is great fun there at the beaches too, not as crowded as in the north.
    Thanks for the show, have a great time.
    Stefan

    1. Thanks for visiting Stephan! I does get quite crowded down here in the summer, it is just that these narrow beaches of Encinitas are not that crowded because you have to walk to get there.

  8. Wow these are such amazing pictures and such a great post with loads of info, a complete tourist package. I love of the places. Lovely beaches Encinitas and you are right for some people like me so much spectacular beauty is just too much. I love that the people there are nice and easy going. Thank you for sharing.
    Raman

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