Thin strips of sand clinging to high, eroding bluffs characterize this region’s beaches. San Onofre State Beach, home to the world-famous surf break Trestles, sets the tone for the region with thin sandy beaches, rugged bluffs, and powerful surf. Camp Pendleton, a marine base, has placed an officer housing development here on what used to be some of the area’s last virgin bluff tops. Following the coast southward toward San Diego, you see a gradual increase in civilization while the beaches continue to greet the ocean’s many moods, oblivious to the surrounding population. Torrey Pines, the region’s southern border, is the last stand of a tree that has suffered from man’s need for elbow room. Towns along the way from north to south are Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar. The marine base, Camp Pendleton, occupies a lengthy portion of coast between San Onofre and Oceanside. Access here is restricted. Oceanside’s beaches are wide and full of activity. Volleyball scenes like that from the movie Top Gun, which was filmed here, are common. The area is a popular fishing base, boasting one of the best small-craft harbors in the nation to go along with its long, wooden pier. Mission San Luis Rey, the largest of the California missions, is one way to observe the heavens locally. Another, the 200-inch Hale telescope, is at nearby Mount Palomar Observatory. Carlsbad’s sands are narrow and often hidden by high tide. Without much room to sun bake, people move inland. The city has attempted to create a European flavor noticeable in the architecture. Carlsbad Village has plenty to satisfy the shopping bug and a tree-shaded cafe to sit at and relax. The nearby Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch are a colorful morsel for the eyes to savor. Ever-growing Encinitas is gobbling up the towns around it. Its shores include San Elijo and Cardiff State Beaches. Solana Beach is wedged between Del Mar and Encinitas. A good deal of its charm lies in the apparent struggle between becoming a tourist spot or staying quaint and quiet. The beaches here are mostly of the cove variety. The healthy beaches of Del Mar are often crowded with the overflow from La Jolla. The town is one on the rise. Already known for its Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Del Mar Fairgrounds, the town is trying to parlay its popularity to become a full-fledged resort town, as it was in the past. This eTrail includes detailed descriptions of these beaches: Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar City Beach, Solana Beach, Cardiff State Beach, San Elijo State Beach, Swami's, Moonlight Beach, Beacons Beach and Stone Steps (Leucadia State Beach), Carlsbad State and City Beaches, South Oceanside Beach, Oceanside City Beach, Harbor Beach, San Onofre State Beach South (Bluff Beach), and Trestles.
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