Lifeguard services are provided by the Marine Safety Division of the Fire Department, for the 3.5 miles of state beaches managed by the City <map>.  The remaining 2.5 miles of state beaches south of Swami’s are managed by the State Parks Department <map>.  By performing a variety of valuable public safety services, Encinitas lifeguards attempt to ensure that all beach patrons have a safe and enjoyable time at City beaches. Traditional services include providing safety information to the public, preventative public safety, mitigation of safety hazards on the beach, open- and under-water rescues, first-aid, animal rescues and dead animal removal.  Due to Encinitas topography, lifeguards also effect cliff rescues.  In addition, there are approximately twenty lifeguards certified in swiftwater rescue, in teams that deploy countywide. Other duties include beach maintenance, bluff monitoring, crowd control, special event staffing, animal control, code enforcement, litter removal and disposal of marine debris. The purpose of having on-duty lifeguards is to ensure that beach visitors are supervised by individuals who are properly trained and equipped to perform lifesaving functions.

If you are planning a trip to the beach and are concerned about ocean conditions, it is recommended that you call the Encinitas Lifeguards at 760-633-2750 for advice on which beaches to visit and a report of current ocean conditions.

Visitors may also pick up a free tide book at the Marine Safety Center (MSC) at Moonlight, located at 400 C Street in Encinitas.

Have a safe and fun time on the beach and in the water!


Emergency (all hours): 911
Lifeguards (business hours): (760) 633-2750
Surf Report: (760) 633-2880
Junior Lifeguards: (760) 633-2752


The Moonlight Beach Marine Safety Center (MSC) is normally staffed from 8:00 am until dusk 365 days a year.  Summer season typically extends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Summer season lifeguard tower staffing hours:

Name                                Hours                                            Notes/tower access

Grandview tower        10:00 am until 6:00 pm                Neptune north of Grandview, parking lot
Beacon’s tower           10:00 am until 6:00 pm                Neptune & Leucadia, parking lot
Stone Steps tower      10:00 am until 6:00 pm                Neptune & S. El Portal, street parking
Sylvia St tower            10:00 am until 6:00 pm                At bluff under Sylvia, MLB access
North tower                 10:00 am until 6:00 pm                North of MSC, MLB access
Swami’s tower             10:00 am until 6:00 pm                Hwy 101, S of SRF, parking lot

Off summer season lifeguard tower staffing hours:

Name                                Hours                                            Notes/tower access

Swami’s tower             10:00 am until 6:00 pm                  Saturday, Sunday, Holidays

Lifeguard towers hours of operation may vary depending on pre-approved special event permits or beach attendance.

Encinitas beach Rules and Regulations:

  • No smoking on beaches or on beachfront sidewalks
  • No glass containers – broken glass and bare feet do not mix
  • No alcoholic beverages
  • No dogs on the beach
  • No climbing on bluffs
  • No fires except in fire rings provided at Moonlight Beach
  • No surfing in swimming areas flagged at Moonlight Beach
  • No sky lanterns <Click here for the Sky Lantern Bulletin for the CA State Fire Marshal>

Beach Wheelchairs:

Beach wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Marine Safety Center at Moonlight Beach.  Use of the wheelchairs is free of charge, however no reservations are accepted.

Junior Lifeguards:

The Encinitas Junior Lifeguard Program is designed to increase awareness of the ocean and its surroundings by teaching minors, ages 9 to 17, ocean rescue techniques, beach first aid, use of rescue boards and lifeguard equipment, and by offering a variety of fun and educational opportunities, such as field trips and competitions with other agencies. For more information call 760-633-2752 or use this <link>.

Beach and Ocean Safety Tips:

Encinitas has some of the area’s most popular beaches, attracting millions of visitors every year. Although most visitors can expect to enjoy a pleasant stay at the beach, potential for accidents exist. If you will be visiting the beach, please keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Learn to swim.
  • Know your swimming abilities and do not go out deeper than your abilities allow.
  • Swim near a lifeguard.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present.
  • Children may not show signs of distress in the water – watch your children.
  • Don’t rely on floatation devices such as rafts, when swimming.
  • If caught in a rip current, DO NOT PANIC. Swim parallel to the shore until out of the current’s pull.
  • Alcohol and swimming don’t mix.
  • Stay clear of lobster traps. If you find a trap in shallow waters, report it to a lifeguard.
  • If you are in trouble, call or wave for help.
  • Always follow regulations and lifeguard directions and obey warning signs in dangerous areas.
  • When cooking, use a barbecue that is elevated off the sand. Sand conducts heat.
  • Avoid stingrays by shuffling your feet along the bottom.
  • If you receive a sting from a stingray or jellyfish seek treatment from a lifeguard.
  • Have courtesy and respect for others.
  • Report suspicious criminal activity to a Sheriff deputy or lifeguard.

Rip Currents:

A rip current is a seaward moving current that circulates water back to sea after it is pushed ashore by waves. Rip currents are one of the most threatening natural hazards along our coast, often pulling victims away from the shallow waters near the shoreline out into the deep sea. The United States Lifesaving Association has found that 80% of the rescues made by ocean lifeguards involve saving those caught in rip currents.

Lifeguards advise that those visiting the beach avoid swimming where rip currents are present. If you become caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until the pull stops and then return to shore. If you are unable to return to shore, tread water and wave for lifeguard assistance.

Remember, always be aware of ocean conditions. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards and are available to assist swimmers in identifying locations where rip currents are present. Be sure to ask a lifeguard about ocean conditions before entering the water.
Where can you get more information about rip currents? 

Visit NOAA’s website  for live rip current reports, surf reports, and more.

Bluff Failures:


STO Fatal - 05


Sandstone bluffs and cliffs situated along the Encinitas coastline are some of the unique features that distinguish our beaches from others in the county. Because of frequent bluff failures, a great deal of consideration has been given to ensuring the safety of those who visit our beaches. Please be aware that in most areas hiking near or directly on top of the bluffs is prohibited. It is also important for visitors to avoid standing or sitting directly underneath unstable bluffs, since they may collapse.

The City has placed warning signs at several locations that are unsafe and should be avoided. If you see a bluff failure occur, please report the incident to a lifeguard or call the Encinitas Fire Department at (760) 633-2800.

For more beach safety tips, please see the Encinitas Beach Safety Guide.

Pool Safety:

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in California for children under the age of 5 and the second leading cause of death in children under 14. Small children often "drown without a sound," even when adults are present. It's often assumed that "someone" is watching the pool.

The Encinitas Fire Department is dedicated to increasing public awareness to prevent these unnecessary accidents. We encourage you to appoint a responsible adult "Water Watcher" to supervise children during pool and spa activities.

To help parents and care givers, free pool safety kits are available at all Encinitas Fire Stations and City Hall. Each kit includes educational materials and lanyards for Water Watchers to wear while supervising children at pools and spas. When you need to take a break, pass the lanyard on to another responsible adult.

Public Education:

To arrange for a public education visit to your school or group, please contact the Encinitas Lifeguard Administration at 760-633-2749.

Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area:

Along the coast, from Cottonwood Creek to the northern border of Solana Beach and out to three miles, Encinitas contains the Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area.  More specific information can be found at this site <link>.

 Swami SMCA Map

  Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for commercial and/or recreational purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. Recreational take by hook-and-line from shore is allowed.
    2. The recreational take by spearfishing of white seabass and pelagic finfish is allowed.
    3. Take pursuant to beach nourishment and other sediment management activities and operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.