Beach Camping California

San Elijo State Beach Campgrounds

If camping is your preference, then just minutes up the coast, north of La Jolla, you will find beach camping California style.


San Elijo State beach campgrounds are situated on a stretch of land and bluffs north of the inlet to the San Elijo Lagoon and just south of a popular surf spot, Swami's Beach.

San Elijo State Beach offers some of the best beach camping California. My family has camped at San Elijo State Beach CA in spring, summer, and fall to enjoy sunsets, beach combing, swimming, boogie-boarding, surfing, body surfing, and campfires-with-sounds-of-ocean-waves-rolling-in.


On a sunny day, when you're standing on the beach or at the top of one of the staircases leading to the beach, you will get long views of undeveloped cliffs and curving coastline a get a sense of endless summer days and beach camping California style.

As you may know, beach camping California reservations can be made at Camping in California is very popular during the summer months, especially California beach camping.


To reserve at San Elijo SB, we follow a discipline that usually gets us the camping site we want. We plan to be sitting at our computer on the first of the month, six months before the camping trip. For example, if we want to camp in July, we make the reservation on February 1. (Confirm the reservation schedule at About 30 minutes before the website opens for business, we turn on our computer, log into Reserve America, and keep nearby a short list of our favorite camping sites. When the clock strikes the open hour, usually 8:00 am, we click on our desired camping site and do a gratitude dance in hope of getting the reservation. If we don't get our favorite camp site on the first try, we either shorten the length of the stay, or we click on a different camp site.

Tents for Camping

Keep in mind that San Elijo SB offers two types of camp sites - standard sites for tents for camping or sites for RVs that need hook-ups.

Sometimes we like to car camp with a tent. The camping sites offer ample room for 3 cars and a tent.


If you forgot to put tents on your camping check list, REI is located at 1590 Leucadia Blvd., Encinitas, CA 92024.

Camping Food Ideas

San Elijo SB is ideal for both the hard core camping chef who likes to cook each meal at the campground, or for the casual camper who prefers to eat out at one of the local restaurants or Seaside Market deli at the nearby Cardiff Towne Center. No matter your speed with camping meals, the Seaside Market located at 2033 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff By the Sea, is stocked with lots of camping food ideas.

Beach Camping Check List

Here's a list of items that are specific to beach camping California style:

1. Bathing suits

2. Flip flops and sandals

3. Wetsuits

4. Beach Towels

5. Waterproof Digital Cameras

6. Boogie Boards

7. Surf Boards

8. Firewood for fire ring at each campsite.

9. Windbreakers and jackets for evening & morning overcast and/or fog

10. Binoculars and birdwatching book

Be sure to put "Learn to surf" on your camping check list for San Elijo SB. The Eli Howard Surf School base is located within the perimeter, near the entrance, of the San Elijo State Beach campgrounds.

Eli Howard Surf School, San Elijo SB


One summer, two nephews joined us for camping and surf lessons at the Eli Howard Surf Camp. After a bowl of cereal for breakfast, we checked the surf and walked toward the entrance of the San Elijo state beach campgrounds and walked through the reed gates of the Eli Howard Surf School. Under the thatched palapas, the surf instructors demonstrated surf stances and how to handle the surf boards before leading the group of kids into the ocean waves. From the beach, we watched the instructors help the kids ride the waves and give tips on hangin' ten. After rinsing the wet suits and boards, we satisfied our hunger at the local SeaSide market which has outdoor patio dining tables and umbrellas. On weekends, sometimes they have live music too.

To get to San Elijo SB from La Jolla beaches , you can drive north on Highway 101 through the towns of Del Mar and Solana Beach. Or you can take highway 5 north and exit at Manchester Ave.

Sunset View from Swami's Meditation Gardens


Once you've finished camping, and you've had enough of roughing it, try one of La Jolla hotels just minutes south along Highway 101.

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