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. The beach has flat, packed sand and can accumulate seaweed and some flies, so if laying out is your main objective you might want to head north to Moonlight Beach. Offshore, divers do their thing at North County's underwater park, Encinitas Marine Life Refuge. Sea Cliff, the small park next to the Swami's parking lot offers shade trees, picnic tables, barbecues, and clean bathrooms. Amenities: lifeguards, parking (no fee), showers, toilets. Best for: snorkeling, surfing, swimming.
1298 S. Coast Hwy. 101 (Rte. S21), 1 mile north of Cardiff, Encinitas, California, 92024, United States