Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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In the early 20th century this beach was a popular spot for late-night picnics, hence the name: Moonlight State Beach. Owned by the State of California and maintained by the City of Encinitas, it is situated between D Street Beach and Stone Steps Beach. Moonlight State Beach boasts several fire pits that are extremely popular. When the sun goes down, the beach lights up with scattered bonfires. Unlike many other beaches, it only closes down for two hours each day, between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., so night owls can stay up making s’mores and stoking the fire into the early hours of the morning. 

Visitors love the volleyball courts and the play area set aside for children. Divers swarm to the kelp beds that are less than a half mile away from the shore. People of all ages frequent this beach, and there are usually a lot of families that spend the day here; this is due in part to the fact that this beach is particularly safe. The swimming area is clearly marked to prevent surfers from hitting swimmers, and there are no sudden drop-offs in that area, which puts parents at ease when their kids are wading. There are ample picnic tables, a snack bar, and even tennis courts. Bathrooms and showers are available for public use, and lifeguards keep an eye on swimmers between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (in the summer the lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Moonlight State Beach is a popular venue for events: the Encinitas Summer Concert Series takes place here each year, as does the Encinitas Sports Festival. The biggest event might be the Moonlight Beach Fest, which includes athletic events, various exhibits, sand castle building, volleyball clinics, live music from local bands, and food trucks.

Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass

Not Required


Family friendly beach. Volleyball. Swimming/surfing.


Dogs not allowed.


ADA accessible
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas



Very busy on weekends. Be prepared to drive around a long time for a parking spot. Worth it!
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