Beach Camping at San Elijo Campgrounds: The Complete Guide

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the historic Highway 101, San Elijo State Beach campground offers stunning ocean views, pristine sandy shores, and a laid-back atmosphere perfect for relaxation and adventure. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a first-time visitor, San Elijo's unique blend of natural beauty and modern amenities makes it an ideal spot for beachside camping, surfing, and soaking up the sun. Here is a guide to everything you need to know before making your visit.

San Elijo Campground Location & Size

San Elijo Campground is located in San Diego county in the center of Encinitas Between Swami's and Cardiff State Beach. Overlooking the ocean, the campsite offers 156 sites on the bluffs being just a stairway down in front of the beach.


San Elijo Weather 

San Diego County boasts nice weather year round but the weather can vary slightly depending on the time of year you visit the campground. Below is a breakdown of the temperature averages you can expect in the Encinitas area for different times of the year.

Summer Months (June - August)- Average Temperature: 67.6 F, Average Low: 62.3 F, Average High: 74 F

  • Summer days at San Elijo live up to expectations of San Diego’s climate;  bringing nice weather both during the day and night as well- with the lowest temperatures being in the high 50s. Summer months bring clear blue skies, high UV indexes, and longer daylight hours. Bring an ample amount of sunscreen or protective UV wear for the day and a comfortable light jacket for the summer nights. Depending on when you visit, It's also important to mention the infamous “June Gloom” that can occur in the earlier days of June with the thick- overcast marine layer that can bring down the temperature a little lower than average.

Fall Months (September - November)-  Average Temperature: 64.8 F, Average Low: 58.6F, Average High: 72 F

  • Often regarded as “The Locals' Summer,” fall still boasts similar weather to summer with slightly lower temperatures and smaller crowds overall. Camping at San Elijo during the fall is often considered the best time for beach camping if you still want to enjoy sunny weather and avoid the large beachgoer crowds that can happen during the summer.

Winter Months (December - February)- Average Temperature: 54.5 F, Average Low: 47.3 F, Average High: 62.4 F.

  • Despite the lower temperatures, winter is still a nice time to go camping as San Elijo has nice views year round. Be sure to bring warmer clothes, a thicker wetsuit for surfing, and a good amount of firewood for burning during the day and night. 

Spring Months (March - May)- Average Temperature: 59 F, Average Low: 53 F, Average High: 67.9 F

  • Spring brings pretty modest temperatures and nice sunny skies as well as occasional rainfall in the March and April months. “May gray” also occurs, bring an overcast layer to the area so be sure to bring a warmer jacket with you. 

San Elijo Booking & Camping Options

San Elijo requires guests to make a reservation prior to their visit. Guests can reserve up to six months in advance, and it is always advisable to book far ahead, especially for peak times during the summer. Bookings can be scheduled online at ReserveCalifornia or over the phone. The campsite offers a range of standard inland or ocean-side spots, with an option for electrical and water hookups for mobile homes. Below are the campsite costs:

Inland Campsite ($35 per night)- These are the standard campsites not located on the edge of the bluff and are the majority of spots if you don’t mind not having a beach view. An option for water and electricity: Inland Campsite w/ hookup- ($60 per night).  

Ocean Campsite ($50 per night) - A more premium option and if you want an ocean- overlooking view. Ocean Campsite w/ hookup ($75 per night). Ocean view campsites are more sought after and can fill up fast so it's important to book far in advance!

General Rules

  • Yes, Pets are allowed in the campgrounds but your furry friends must be kept on a leash less than 6 ft at all times. Pet are not allowed on the beach 

  • The campgrounds have a non exempt check in time of 2pm of the first day of your stay and a check out time of your last day at noon.  

  • Quiet hours are from 10:00PM to 6:00AM. Guests visiting for the day only will have to leave by 10:00PM.  

  • Alcohol and Glass containers are no allowed on the beach beyond the campsite

  • 8 people are limited to each campsite. A special event permit is required for larger groups 

  • The campsite fee covers the cost of one vehicle and each additional vehicle is $15

  • Only 8 people and 3 vehicles are allowed for a single standard site. 2 vehicles are only allowed for hookup sites.

  • Trailers and Motorhomes are limited to 35’ for non-hookup sites or 24’ for hook-up sites.

Activities at San Elijo Beach

San Elijo offers a variety of activities with the beach being the most notable. Below is a list of activities that you can enjoy at your stay:

  • Beach and Surfing: The beach is a just short walk down the stairs and down the bluffs where you could spend your day laying out in the sun. San Elijo has surf spots spanning down the whole beach of the campgrounds, providing a fun wave and friendly atmosphere for both longboarders and shortboarders.
  • Biking: Bikes are allowed in campsites and can be ridden around on the many bike trails offered around the campsite and the surrounding area. Bike paths can vary from the scenic dirt trails to the side roads of the 101 highway for trips into downtown Encinitas. Helmets are required for anyone under the age of 18. 
  • Beach Hiking: If you prefer to enjoy the scenic views on foot, the campgrounds offer a variety of hiking trails in and around the campsite. 
  • Fishing: Shore fishing is allowed with a state permit in the main area.The San Elijo Lagoon is however off limits and is a protected wildlife area. 
  • Picnicking: The campgrounds have a designated picnic area and picnic tables towards the edge of the bluffs where you can enjoy the views of the ocean. Stationary ring grills are provided as well so be sure to bring your own coals!

San Elijo Campgrounds Amenities

Below is the complete list of amenities offered at the campgrounds 

  • Campstore: Icecream, firewood, toiletries, and groceries can be purchased here
    • Additional day parking for guests: campgrounds also have a day lot with a pay machine where visitors can pay hourly or for overnight fees. Visitors not registered must leave by 10PM
    • Picnic area: located right on the cliff for beachfront views
  • Electrical hookups for RVs and Trailers
  • Dumping station for RV’s and Trailers
      • Trash stations: to dispose of perishables 
      • Fire pit, picnic table, and grill ring: Located at each campsite
      • Lifeguards: Lifeguard towers are staffed on summer days from 10:00 AM to 6:00PM with limited staffing during Fall/spring. Towers are not staffed during winter
  • Public Bathrooms and Coin Fed Showers: Attached together and located around the campsite.

    Why RinseKit is the Best Portable Shower to Bring Beach Camping

    1. Superior Pressurization: Unlike many portable showers that rely on gravity or manual pumping for water pressure, RinseKit features a patented battery-powered pressurization system. This system allows it to maintain a steady, high-pressure stream of water, mimicking the experience of a home shower. This is crucial for effectively rinsing off the day's dirt, sunscreen, and sweat, making you feel refreshed and rejuvenated without the need for constant pumping or repositioning.
    2. Ease of Use: RinseKit is designed for simplicity and ease of use. Filling the RinseKit is straightforward—simply pour in water from any source. Once filled, it’s ready to deliver a pressurized spray with the twist of a nozzle. There’s no setup required each time you need a shower, and its user-friendly operation makes it accessible to everyone, regardless of their familiarity with camping gear.
    3. Durability and Reliability: Built to withstand tough conditions, RinseKit’s robust construction makes it ideal for the outdoors. Its materials are designed to resist UV damage, corrosion, and the wear and tear of outdoor use. This durability ensures that RinseKit can handle from dust and mud to rain and prolonged sun exposure at the beach campsite
    4. Versatiliy: RinseKit isn’t just for showering. Its adjustable nozzle settings (from mist to jet spray) make it incredibly versatile for other uses like washing dishes, cleaning sandy surfboards and beach gear, or even giving a quick rinse to get the sand off your feet in and out of your RV or tent. This multipurpose functionality means you carry less while getting more uses out of a single item.
    5. Portability: Despite its sturdy build, RinseKit is highly portable. It’s designed to be compact enough to easily transport to and from your campsite. With ergonomic features like a carrying handle, it is easy to move around, ensuring that you can take it anywhere you go, whether you’re heading down to the beach or just need to refill it at a water station .
    6. No External Power Required: RinseKit’s models are battery-operated, requiring no external power source to pressurize the water. Each charge lasts 4-6 months, making RinseKit an ideal companion for multi-day beach camping if you don't have an electricity hookup option. This portable power means you can also charge your external devices, like your phone or your air mattress pump, off of your RinseKit.
    7. Hot Water Options: RinseKit can be paired with portable heaters like the HyperHeater, providing the luxury of a hot shower. This can be particularly soothing after long days spent outdoors or during chillier nights, enhancing comfort and relaxation. 


    San Elijo is a prime location to experience scenic views, great weather year-round, and various outdoor activities while beach camping. As a world-famous camping spot, just remember to book a reservation far in advance when you decide to visit. Besides bringing essentials like ample firewood, sun protection, and beach chairs, a portable shower system like RinseKit provides a superior blend of convenience, performance, and durability, making it a top choice for beach campers who value comfort and functionality. Whether you’re rinsing off after a day of surfing or simply needing to wash up before a campfire meal, RinseKit delivers a level of performance that can turn the often sandy experience of beach camping into a cleaner, sand-free adventure.