The palms and the golden lotus-flower domes of the nearby Self-Realization Center temple and ashram earned this picturesque beach, also a top surfing spot, its name. Extreme low tides expose tide pools that harbor anemones, starfish, and other sea life. The only access is by a long stairway leading down from the cliff-top Seaside Roadside Park, where there's free parking. On big winter swells, the bluffs are lined with gawkers watching the area's best surfers take on—and
be taken down by—some of the county's best big waves. Offshore, divers do their thing at North County's underwater park, Encinitas Marine Life Refuge. Amenities: lifeguards, parking (no fee), showers, toilets. Best for: snorkeling, surfing, swimming.
Follow Rte. S21 north from Cardiff, or Exit I–5 at Encinitas Blvd., go west to Rte. S21, and turn left, Encinitas, California, 92024, United States