Explore homes for sale in Cardiff by the Sea

One of the finest beach communities located along the Southern California coastline, Cardiff by the Sea offers luxurious oceanfront living with easy access to picturesque beaches, spacious parks, exclusive outdoor facilities, and good schools.

Known simply as Cardiff to locals, Cardiff by the Sea is a friendly and laid-back community in the southern end of Encinitas, CA. Drawing attention from people from all walks of life, hailing from various corners of the world, this exceptional coastal locale is home to a vibrant and diverse population of approximately 12,000 residents today.

Stunning location

Located in the southern portion of Encinitas in San Diego County, Cardiff by the Sea is the quintessential beach and surfing neighborhood. Facing the sparkling Pacific Ocean to the west, Cardiff boasts of a two-mile coastline where you can find the perfect beach and surfing spots for your tastes.

Cardiff’s ideal location also offers convenient access to the big-city pleasures of nearby San Diego via Interstate 5. Downtown San Diego is approximately 25 miles to the south—roughly a half-hour drive away on a good day. While the vibrant communities of Del Mar, Carmel Valley, and La Jolla are all within 16 miles.

How Cardiff by the Sea came to be

This small oceanfront community in Southern California was christened as Cardiff by the Sea in 1910 by its founder, J. Frank Cullen. Originally an artist, Cullen traveled all the way from Boston to San Diego, intent on becoming a developer.

But before this artist turned community founder and developer made his fateful journey, the beautiful area of what we know now as Cardiff by the Sea was already thousands of years in the making.

Cardiff, along with the rest of Encinitas and San Diego County, was developed on territory that was first occupied by the semi-nomadic Kumeyaay Native Americans. The Spanish first arrived in the area in 1542 and by the 1700s, the establishment of settler communities was widespread across what would become San Diego County.

An individual named Hector MacKinnon arrived in the area in 1875, coming all the way from Cleveland. MacKinnon and his family are said to be one of the earliest migrant settlers on record to inhabit Cardiff. The MacKinnons used their land to raise chickens and make specialty products such as jams and jellies. The first school in Cardiff was established in their family barn as well.

About 30 years later, J. Frank Cullen arrived from Boston, surveyed the land, and offered to buy it from the MacKinnons. After the successful purchase, Cullen began selling smaller plots to interested buyers. The erstwhile Boston painter named this historic beach community Cardiff, at the behest of his wife who hailed from Cardiff, Wales.


The Cardiff we know and love today


From 1912 onwards, a slew of developments took place in Cardiff. A pier and an oceanfront hotel were built. An industry around kelp harvesting and processing became a good source of jobs and income for the growing population. Public services also began to take shape, with the establishment of a library and school district in 1914. This was followed by the construction of a train station and post office in the early 1920s.

As more newcomers started arriving in the area—whether to raise families, start a business, or simply enjoy the pleasures of living in an amazing oceanfront setting—new housing developments started cropping up from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Cardiff gained a reputation as a tourist destination after the 1950s, when a new Interstate highway was completed and made this once-hidden gem in Encinitas increasingly accessible to visitors. Surf spots gained popularity throughout the community, boosted by championship-caliber performances of local surfing legends like Linda Benson and Rob Machado.

Cardiff today is home to thrill-seeking athletes, celebrities, business professionals, artists, and more.

A snapshot of the Cardiff by the Sea real estate market

As one of the hottest housing markets in the area, Cardiff by the Sea boasts of lavish condominiums, elegant townhouses, stunning beachfront villas, and multimillion-dollar mansions.

Single-family homes represent the majority of the options in the Cardiff housing market. Options range from modest ranch homes to waterfront mansions that capture what Cardiff by the Sea offers best—sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.

Contemporary and modern house styles are common in this market, including resort-style luxury homes built in the 1970s and quaint beach cottages. These designs capture the best of oceanfront living in the most effortlessly stylish way possible.

Condominium and townhouse properties in Cardiff are a viable alternative for homebuyers who desire the luxury of the beachfront lifestyle, minus the high-maintenance obligations of a sprawling villa or estate home.

Homes for sale in Cardiff by the Sea tend to be snapped up quickly, with listings selling within 41 days on the market on average. To make sure that you don’t miss out on this community’s spectacular real estate opportunities, it pays to be guided by the intimate knowledge and refined instincts of experienced local Realtors. Getting up-to-date information from professionals in a rapidly shifting market is crucial to stay ahead of your competition.

What life is like in Cardiff by the Sea

Cardiff by the Sea is the type of community that keeps you engaged and excited, no matter your interests. Whether it’s shopping, surfing, playing golf, restaurant-hopping, or learning a bit of history, there’s a ton of activities here that will make you wish you had more days in a week.

In this section, we’ll cover all you need to know about living in Cardiff, from local weather conditions to the interesting activities you can add to your to-do list.


Climate and weather


Similar to other San Diego County communities, Cardiff by the Sea has a Mediterranean climate, which means pleasant weather and abundant sunshine for the majority of the year. The year-round balmy conditions are matched by refreshing coastal breezes that make this community irresistible to homebuyers.


Economy and cost of living


Living in Cardiff by the Sea is a bit more expensive than the average US city. describes this location’s cost of living as 34.5% higher than the national average. The competitive real estate market is one of the primary factors that drive up the cost of living Additionally, groceries, transport costs, and utilities are relatively more expensive here.

The higher standard of living is justified in a place as exquisite as Cardiff, however. Given the distinct beauty of its surroundings and remarkable quality of life, this coastal community is undoubtedly worth paying top dollar for.




For new families looking to move to Cardiff by the Sea, there are a handful of elementary and high school options to choose from within the Encinitas city limits.

The Ada Harris Elementary School and Cardiff Elementary School are both recognized as California Distinguished Schools, frequently ranked among the top schools in the state. San Dieguito High School Academy, which has a competitive curriculum and a healthy balance of extracurricular activities, is an excellent choice for high school students in the area.




  • Beaches and surf spotsWhen it comes to spending downtime in Cardiff by the Sea, the communities’ many beaches will instantly come to mind. Whatever your idea of unwinding is, there is sure to be a beach for you.San Elijo State Beach, for instance, is ideal for families given its picnic and camping-friendly features. Meanwhile, Cardiff Reef at Cardiff State Beach is where skilled surfers go to ride the waves.
  • Nature and the outdoorsCardiff offers more than just a pristine beachfront. The community is flanked by other breathtaking natural features. If you lead an active lifestyle—or have plans to embrace it when you buy your next home—this community’s outstanding outdoor destinations will be a treat for you.Located east of Cardiff, you’ll find the Manchester Preserve. Its well-maintained trails offer hikers and runners an expansive space for some peace and quiet, coupled with scenic views of the coast to the west and the majestic landscapes to the east.The recently completed Cardiff Rail Trail is a mixed-use path frequented by runners, cyclists, and walkers. The plan is to integrate this 1.3 mile trail to a longer bike and pedestrian path (the Coastal Rail Trail Project) that will stretch all the way from Oceanside to San Diego. Closer to the south lies San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center.

    The sizable Encinitas Community Park is just approximately a mile away from Cardiff — a comfortable walking distance. Completed in 2015, this recreational park covers 44 acres, providing locals and tourists with plenty of space to stay active and have fun. It has softball and baseball fields, a skate park, an off-leash dog park, and several playgrounds and picnic areas.

  • GolfCardiff may not look exactly like a golfer’s paradise at first glance, but there are quite a few golf courses around the area that new and pro players will enjoy. Aside from the 18-hole Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, you can take a short drive up to Rancho Santa Fe, where the members-only, 27-hole Morgan Run Club Resort is located. With a gorgeous coastal setting, golfers here never need to worry about frost delays.




  • Old EncinitasThe historic downtown district was where thcity of Encinitas was first established in 1881. Here, you can visit the Encinitas Historical Society, which is housed in a beautifully preserved schoolhouse that dates back to 1883. The building houses collections and exhibits of photos and research documents that give a good glimpse of the city’s rich past.
  • San Diego Botanic GardenFormerly known as the Quail Botanical Gardens, this 37-acre garden makes the most of the area’s Mediterranean climate to grow a remarkable selection of plants. This site features dedicated sections for desert gardens, bamboo groves, and simulated rainforest areas.
  • Cardiff KookThis six-foot bronze statue is actually named “Magic Carpet Ride,” but Cardiff surfers have derided its unrealistic portrayal of the surfing form. The community instead started calling it the “Cardiff Kook,” after the local slang term for a wannabe surfer.From initial disapproval, local surfers have embraced the goofy portrayal of proper surfing technique. Since it was unveiled in 2007, local pranksters have dressed the Kook in a variety of costumes, from wearing pink for breast cancer awareness to being a victim of a paper mâché shark attack. Needless to say, the photo ops with this statue are endless.


Shopping and dining


Check out Cardiff Town Center right along Newcastle Avenue when you want to treat yourself to a wide range of unique local stores, specialty shops, and restaurants. For your regular supply of fresh produce, seafood, and other groceries, the Cardiff Seaside Market is the place to go. If you need a fresh set of outdoor or surfing gear, head on over to Patagonia on San Elijo Avenue.

Meanwhile, for your gastronomic adventures, there is a stretch of restaurants along Highway 101 that set the bar for oceanfront dining. Book a table at Chart House, a high-end restaurant that serves up savory seafood dishes and a variety of mouth-watering appetizers. Then there’s the Pacific Coast Grill, where you can enjoy lobster taquitos and their specialty Cardiff Reef roll while admiring one of the best sunset views in the area.

Seek out luxurious beachfront living in Cardiff by the Sea

What are you waiting for? Make the move to one of the most sought-after oceanfront communities in Southern California. Mickey Booz, Tina Polansky and Associates can help you find the best properties right here in Cardiff by the Sea. As one of the top producing Realtor teams in the nation, we put your worries to rest to ensure you have a stress-free homebuying experience.

With over 30 years of combined knowledge and experience in the industry, there’s no better team to help you navigate real estate transactions in the Cardiff by the Sea housing market. Here’s a glimpse of the awards and accolades we’ve achieved through the years:

  • #1 top-producing large team for Coldwell Banker in San Diego County (December 2020 and February 2021)
  • Coldwell Banker Sterling Society awardee (Top 11% of Coldwell Banker International Realtors)
  • Membership to the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing
  • Membership to the Million Dollar Guild
  • Certified Negotiation and Marketing Experts
  • GREEN Designation by the National Association of Realtors

Are you ready to discover your dream beach home in Cardiff by the Sea? Here’s how you can get in touch with us: