Cardiff by the Sea

An enviable beach community with one of the most laid-back personalities in the area.

Welcome to Cardiff by the Sea

An enviable beach community with one of the most laid-back personalities in the area.

Flush against golden sands where the white-capped waves of the Pacific crest into the southern Californian coast, the hip, coastal community of Cardiff by the Sea entices those seeking a little slice of beachy heaven away from the crowds. The chill, effortlessly welcoming ambiance contributes to the area’s reputation as a perfect getaway, while its close proximity to the bounties of San Diego keeps its population busy.
Commonly referred to simply as Cardiff, this seaside respite has a vibrant history that dates back thousands of years to its first native inhabitants. The first European settlements came in the late 19th century, and soon the area was developed into a prosperous, relaxed community within the city of Encinitas.
In Cardiff, a passion for easy living doesn’t necessarily translate to simple homes. Here you’ll encounter a great number of magnificent luxury properties that use the beach as a backdrop for their stunning designs. Other architectural styles range from mid-century charmers that embody the surfer lifestyle to quintessential coastal bungalows.

What to Love

  • All the advantages of living in Encinitas while feeling set apart from the world
  • Eclectic, artsy community of creative spirits
  • Unique local shopping with plenty of beach-themed wares

Local Lifestyle

Cardiff by the Sea is famous for its beaches and its awe-inspiring surfing spots, and those who move here quickly discover that water-based sports are a way of life. Whether you’re snorkeling the colorful reefs, taking endless walks along the shoreline, or getting to know the local hangouts, it’s easy to fall in love with the breezy personality of Cardiff.

Dining, Entertainment, and Shopping

The commercial and retail action of Cardiff by the Sea is localized around the Cardiff Town Center, where shoppers will find a wonderful selection of independent stores such as Fowlers Boutique. Even simple, day-to-day grocery shopping gets a facelift in Cardiff, thanks to gourmet shops like Seaside Market, an upscale market with prepared food items, and a sunny dining patio.  Serving as the go-to for specialty cocktails and New American dishes imbued with European flavors, Cardiff’s Waverly Restaurant comes from the renowned SDCM restaurant group — the same minds behind award-winning hits such as Kettner Exchange and Devil’s Dozen Donut Shop.
Other popular haunts include the Pacific Coast Grill, a carefree but elegant fine dining location where the only thing better than the seafood and sushi is the stunning waterfront view. The espresso bar at the surf-themed Pipes Cafe is perfect for those early mornings spent catching the waves. Their comfort-laden menu of breakfast and lunch fare keeps diners fueled for their busy days. For unparalleled fine dining, there’s The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, just 15 minutes inland.

Things to Do

Getting in tune with nature is as easy as watching the sunrise blossom over the Pacific in Cardiff. The area’s myriad landscapes, preserves, and idyllic surf spots keep every excursion invigorating, and the salt-scented wind floating in from the sea drives a desire for exploration.
The San Elijo State Campgrounds allow visitors to spend the night right on the beach and features accommodations for campers, RVs, and standard equipment. The park also houses facilities for fishing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and windsurfing. Next door, the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve puts the joy of learning in tandem with the calming solace of nature. Painters can sit in peace while they capture the landscape, hikers can traverse the diverse ecological systems and families will get a kick out of the nature-themed scavenger hunts for kids.
Surfing is king in Cardiff by the Sea, so it’s no surprise that locals and frequent visitors are all familiar with the area’s best surfing location: Pipes Surf Break. Accessible to swimmers and surfers alike, this swath of beach is located north of the campgrounds. Another of Cardiff’s surfing claims to fame is Camp Shred, the world’s largest surf demo. As an annual weekend event, Camp Shred brings together surfers and brands to benefit the area’s parks.


Cardiff by the Sea is home to a number of excellent schools. Top educational opportunities include:
  • Cardiff Elementary School, K-2, highly rated public elementary school 
  • San Dieguito High Academy, 9-12, highly rated public high school
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