In the 1760s, the Spanish started colonizing the area known today as Cardiff-by-the-Sea with the construction of Spanish missions. In the early 1900s, a Boston developer, J. Frank Cullen, purchased land from the first settlers, giving the community its name in honor of his wife’s home country and naming many streets after other cities in Britain.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a small beach community with a population of under 12,000. It joined the nearby communities of Leucadia, Olivenhain, and Encinitas in the late 1900s to form the incorporated city of Encinitas. Although the community operates as part of the city of Encinitas, it has its own zip code.
Referred to as simply “Cardiff” by locals, the community is home to some popular surf spots, such as Cardiff Reef, Swami’s, Pipes, and Seaside Reef. They are known for their smooth and consistent wave shape and produce waves that cater to both professional and novice surfers. Many of the homes feature panoramic ocean views by nature of the elevations and proximity to the ocean. The two main areas are “The Composer District” where the lots tend to be a bit larger in size and “The Walking District” which is well known for its walkability and close proximity to spectacular dining along the coast at Pacific Coast Grill or Chart House, to name a few.
Watch the sunrise or sunset along the water by camping out at the San Elijo Beach campgrounds, one of the few beaches that allow camping in San Diego county. The Cardiff Seaside Market has one of the best meat and seafood markets around town, including the ever popular “Cardiff Crack” that draws people in from as far as Los Angeles. The market also offers plenty of options for your gourmet meals at home. After a great morning surf, stop by Pipes for the biggest burritos and breakfast you’ve ever had or V.G. Bakery for the best donuts around. Don’t miss the “Cardiff Kook” as you drive along Hwy 101, a famous statue that locals decorate all year round.