Cardiff Reef is a great place to enjoy a day of stand up paddling. Located in North San Diego County, the sandy beach offers perfect launch point and also offers a more mellow lagoon area if you want to explore, birdwatch, and dangle your toes. It’s a state run beach and has ample parking during the week. The day pass is $10. On the weekends the lot will get pretty full so you might have to park along the coast highway and carry your board down. Here’s my idea of a perfect day at Cardiff. Launch in the river mouth and paddle under the bridge (Highway 101). Depending upon what’s going on with the tide you’ll either get a great workout or go for a free ride. Once inside the lagoon area you can paddle along the coast until you get to the railroad trestle. There are signs posted indicating you shouldn’t pass. I’m assuming California Department of Fish and Game would give you a ticket if you didn’t pay attention to the sign because San Elijo Lagoon is a protected reserve. The lagoon includes 1,000 acres of diverse habitat including six plant communties: coastal strand, salt marsh, brackish/freshwater marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub and mixed chaparral. When you finish with the mellow paddle go back out the way you came and hit the surf. The waves are pretty relaxed here on a normal day so it’s probably one of the better beaches to paddle out at if you’re a beginner. On a crowded day it can be a bit crazy but just give people plenty of space and be courteous to your fellow surfers. There’s a good mix of surfers and SUPers and as long as you aren’t a wave hog you’ll have a great time. If you paddle out beyond the break you’ll find some great kelp forests to paddle around. Head up the coast to Swami’s and you’ll pass by one of my favorite beaches in all of San Diego – Pipes. If you’re not up for it today…tag along with me for a quick paddle below. Watch in HD. Enjoy!
Check the surf forecast before you go: