If you’re looking for a beautiful and serene beach to visit in San Diego County, look no further than San Elijo State Beach.
This stunning coastal area offers something for everyone, from swimming and surfing to fishing and camping.
However, before you make the trip, there are a few things you should know.
In this blog post, we will discuss 10 things you must know before visiting this place.
- 10 Things to know about San Elijo State Beach
- San Elijo State Beach Parking
- San Elijo State Beach Campsite
10 Things to know about San Elijo State Beach
San Elijo State Beach is one of 9 beaches located in Encinitas, California.
If you plan on visiting these are a few things you should know.
1. San Elijo Has 2 Entrances to get in One Public and One with a Reservation
When visiting San Elijo State Beach, know that there are two main entrances that allow you to get into the beach.
The first main entrance is the public entrance (San Elijo North Parking Lot) and no reservation is required.
The second main entrance requires a reservation to get in.
The first time visiting we went into the camping entrance and weren’t allowed in the car due to not having a reservation.
However, you can walk into the beach campsite without reservation.
Once, you are inside the campsite you have several entrances that led down to the beach.
2. San Elijo State Beach is Not Wheelchair Accessible
In my opinion, this beach is not wheelchair accessible both in the San Elijo North Parking Lot and the campground.
While visiting this place I walked both through the San Elijo North Parking Lot and San Elijo Campground and every single entrance I passed by had wooden stairs leading down the beach.
You need to go down a set of wooden stairs just like Stonesteps Beach and Swami’s Beach to get to the beach.
Some entrances had over 100 wooden steps to get down (like San Elijo North Parking Lot) while others had fewer.
So if you require the use of a wheelchair or cane to get around just know that it might be a challenge to get down to this beach.
However, you can still enjoy the beautiful view of the beach from the top of the parking lot entrances.
The best-recommended beach in Encinitas in our opinion that is worth visiting and accessible is Moonlight State Beach.
This beach offers wide-wheeled beach wheelchairs free of use for those who need them and easy roll-out special mats that allow you to get into the beach with your wheelchair.
3. San Elijo State Beach is Dog-Friendly
For those who love bringing along their furry friend then you’re in luck because San Elijo State Beach allows dogs on this beach.
There are a few rules though you should know and that is that your dog must be leashed at all times and they must be on the south side of Lifeguard Tower 16.
In addition, you are responsible for cleaning up after your dog.
This beach has two types of places where you can use the restroom.
The first is port-a-potties which are available during the summer months only.
These are located at both entrances.
Furthermore, showers and flushable toilets can be found on the campground side.
5. Fire Rings
For those who love having a bonfire on the beach rest assured that this place has fire rings.
The downfall to this is that you can only have your bonfires on the fire rings that are provided here.
No beach fires are allowed, unfortunately.
Furthermore, fire rings are only found on the campground side of the beach.
For those campers, you can bring your own firewood or you can purchase some at the campground store.
This beach has lifeguards, however, there are not year-round.
There are lifeguard towers found both at the public beach entrance as well as the campground beachside.
During summertime, you can find lifeguards from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
During the months of November through March, no lifeguards are present.
So, if you’re visiting during winter make sure to not swim alone and know what the current conditions are.
Alcohol isn’t allowed on this beach.
Now on the campground side of the beach, my sister and I noticed people were drinking on their campsite.
We believe this might be allowed since we didn’t see any signs on the campground that doesn’t allow it on your campsite.
But on the public beach side, we saw signs that clearly state no alcohol allowed.
8. Picnic Tables & BBQ Grills
For those who love having a beach picnic, San Elijo State Beach has both picnic tables and barbeque grills.
The best part is that these are available both on the public beach side as well as the campground side.
So, no matter where you’re visiting from you can have a picnic on this beautiful beach.
9. Concession Stands
For those who want to grab a bite or a drink while at the beach, know that there is only one concession stand located here.
On the campground side, there is a small Camp Store that sells drinks, snacks, and firewood.
Unfortunately, as of November 2022, the Camp Store is closed down.
However, if you walk across Chesterfield Drive (about a 10-minute walk) there is a market, shops, and restaurants.
Not too far.
10. Type of People you’ll Encounter: Surfers & Campers
San Elijo State Beach is a popular destination for both campers and surfers.
You’ll always find surfers on the public beach side.
This is a well-known surfing spot among them.
As for the campers, they are usually found on the campground side of the beach.
They are usually driving in with their RVs or tents to stay for a couple of days.
San Elijo State Beach Parking
Unfortunately, if you plan on visiting San Elijo State Beach know that you will have to pay for parking.
Parking prices will vary.
Entrance at North Parking Lot:
- Day parking is $10 (as of November 2022)
Campground Entrance – Varies:
- Anywhere from $35 or more (as of November 2022)
San Elijo State Beach Campsite
If you’re looking to camp at this place know that there are 171 campsites.
Some have full hookups available that include water, electricity, and sewer.
In addition, some are accessible for those needing special assistance.
This includes restrooms and showers as well.
The cost of camping here will vary depending on the type of campsite you choose and the time of year.
Current Prices (as of November 2022):
- INLAND CAMPSITE: $35.00
- INLAND HOOKUP: $65.00
- OCEAN CAMPSITE: $50.00
- OCEAN HOOKUP: $75.00
This includes up to 8 people per site and one vehicle.
Any other vehicles will be subject to an additional $15.
For those wanting to camp here, you will need to make a reservation online at Reserve California.
You can make reservations for future dates up to 6 months in advance, with each new date opening at 8 a.m.
This campground is a popular campground destination amongst tourists.
So, if you have your heart set on camping here make sure to book your reservation as soon as possible.
Summertimes it can often be impossible to get a reservation due to how popular it is.
Things to be aware of:
- Check-In time always is at 2 p.m.
- Check-Out time is always at 12 p.m.
- Cancellation fee non-refundable fee: $7.99
- Recycle Bins available
- Showers operate on coins – you can get some from the Camp Store
- Bicycles along with motorized scooters allowed
- The campground is nearby train tracks and Coast Highway so expect noise during the day and night
How do you get reservations at San Elijo State Beach?
As mentioned before you need to reserve online at Reserve California for a campsite.
Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Make sure to reserve early to get a spot.
How much does it cost to camp at San Elijo State Beach?
The cost of camping here will depend on the type of campsite you choose and the time of year.
Inland campsites start at $35 a night while oceanfront sites start at $50 a night.
You can also choose to have a campsite with hookups that include water, electricity, and sewer for an additional cost.
Are dogs allowed on San Elijo State Beach?
No, dogs are not allowed on this beach.
Dogs can stay in the campground with their owners as long as they are kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet and either inside a tent or RV during the night.
Service animals are exempt though from this rule.
Where is San Elijo State Beach?
This beach is located in North County San Diego in the city of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
The address is 2050 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007.
San Elijo State Beach is a beautiful destination that offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to surf, camp, or just enjoy the beach, this is the place for you.
Just be sure to bring your sunscreen and your wallet as parking and campsite fees can add up.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips for visitors or if you’ve camped here before and what your experience was like!
Until next time, happy beach camping!
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Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel site was inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating at.