Often referred to as the "Western Riviera," the North County San Diego area is home to many top surfers, like Rob Machado, and it attracts world-class surfers from around the world, especially to Swami's Beach and Beacon's Beach. Cardiff State Beach and Cardiff Reef hosts the annual Rob Machado Surf Classic every September; an opportunity for for talented new surfers to win prizes and recognition in the surfing world. Surfing magazines consistently rate these two Encinitas beaches among the TOP TEN places in the WORLD for surfing. It's no wonder that many of the world's top surfers as well as famed, older "heroes" of the surfing world, live near these beaches.
If you live here, there's no escape from constant reminders that surfing is one of the primary coastal sporting activities. Non-surfer as I am, I still am thrilled by Swami's surfers and love watching them; many a neighbor's kid's car has a rack to accommodate the equipment needed to pursue the sport. One has to be on the lookout for the entrance to Swami's parking lot; it's just south of the Self-Realization Temple on Coast Highway, and it's on your right as soon as the Temple wall ends. I highly recommend seeing the Swami's activity from the vantage point of the Self-Realization Garden grounds during the summer, as the crowd of surfers at Swami's quickly fills up the rather small parking lot it has. Frankly, it's a summer crush to avoid.
Everyone knows how Swami's got its name (from its location directly oceanward from the Self-Realization Temple), but the origin of Beacon's name is debatable. Many old-timers insist that the name derived from a beacon that was off-shore from this Leucadian beach during World War Two, at a time when Japanese invasion rumors circulated in military-concentrated San Diego. Others insist it was dubbed Beacon's in honor of an early settler. All are agreed, however, that it is a narrow, rocky beach that attracts only surfers. Erosion has taken its toll through the years, which accounts for Beacon's diminishing dimensions. But surfing there is great, and it remains a prime beach for that activity. For lots of local surfers who've surfed 30 years or more here, these two beaches are their favorite "hangouts."