Cardiff Reef ("The Reef") is a popular surf spot that produces waves both professional and novice surfers enjoy year round. Surfing at The Reef has progressed from just a few surfers in the 1950s to become one of the most popular surfing spots in San Diego County. Cardiff Reef and nearby surf spot, Pipes, are famous for their smooth and consistent wave shape. When the tide is low, a flat rock reef is revealed that extends 50 yards from shore. Exploring these tide pools is a popular activity for visitors of Cardiff.
With a population of under 12,000, Cardiff-by-the-Sea operates as part of the city of Encinitas, but unlike the other communities that comprise Encinitas, has its own ZIP code (92007).