San Elijo Lagoon is one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands. It lies along the coast between the cities of Solana Beach and Encinitas, and then moves inland to the Rancho Sante Fe community. Native American tribes hunted and gathered in those areas for at least 8,500 years before European settlers came along. The native people relied on coastal resources for things such as food. They sustained themselves through consuming scallops, clams, shark, barracuda, bonito and abalone. The most recent native people to occupy the area are the Kumeyaay.
In 1769, the Spanish Portola Expedition were the ones to name the area San Elijo in honor of Saint Alexis. A big influx of people would then follow almost a hundred years later in 1848 when many people started to travel west because of the California Gold Rush. Their settlements and cultivation of the land ended up changing the watershed.