It’s hard to visit Malibu and not fall in love with the views from every cliff, cute restaurants and slower pace right outside the city of busy Los Angeles. It has a relaxed feel that is still chic enough to attract celebrities and other socialites who work in LA. It’s on the quieter side so it provides the perfect escape from busy life. The cliff side views of the ocean make it easy to see why people are willing to spend what they do in order to live there. It’s laid back-surfer town feel and sweeping views are hard to beat!
With nearly three-dozen beaches to choose from, Malibu is a beach-lovers dream. From the iconic Surfrider Beach, famous for world-class surfing and movies like “Gidget”, to one of the area’s cleanest beaches at Zuma Beach, to the cave-like rocks and cliffs of El Matador State Beach, there are plenty of options. Keep in mind, though, many of these beaches aren’t very well known, or easy to find. Some do not make it easy for the public to get to either. Before you go, stock up on supplies, food and beach equipment. Do Malibu California! Continue reading and plan your Malibu beach vacation today!
Malibu has a long history of beach access disputes, big and small, between wealthy home owners and the public. Luckily the California Coastal Commissionhas been fighting for public access over the years.
There are many world-class well-known beaches along the 23-mile long Malibu shoreline in western Los Angeles County. Some of the names include Topanga, Surfrider, Malibu Lagoon, Point Dume, Zuma, El Matador, and Leo Carrillo State Park. Each of these beaches are famous for different reasons be it reliable surfing, bird-watching, endless volleyball courts, or just scenic photography.
Some beaches have signs put up by locals to discourage using the public access easements. Ignore the signs that say “Right to Pass by Permission and Subject to Control of Owner” as these are bogus. Look for the brown Beach Access and Coastal Access signs put up by the State Coastal Commission. Be careful where you park so you don’t block any driveways or give yourself any other reason for a parking citation. When on the beaches, stay back from the homes to give them some privacy. Note that several of these beaches still don’t have direct access so you have to walk on the sand from another beach to get there.
Weather – When to Visit Malibu
With its sunny and temperate climate, Malibu is a year-round destination. Jul–Aug is the busy season, when the weather is warm and dry. The end of summer (Sep) is still warm, but the beaches are less crowded. Surfing competitions are held Jun–Sep. Surfing peaks Sep–Oct, when waves are ideal and the water is warmer than in summer. Spring (Apr–Jun), with flowering plants and full waterfalls, is a popular time for hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Best Malibu Beaches
El Matador State Beach
Beautiful sea stacks are on the beach and in the surf. This is a popular spot to photograph swimsuit models and stunning sunsets. Explore north on the beach to caves and arches in the rocks. The largest cave faces the ocean at the bottom of a huge flat rock that is connected to the base of the bluff. It’s best to visit these natural features at low tide.
Zuma Beach is a massive beach with lifeguard stations spaced out on the shore to protect people who risk swimming these waters. Strong rip currents can develop at Zuma Beach so be aware if you want to swim. This is a gradually sloping beach so it’s great for taking off the sandals and walking in the surf. Volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, and concession stands can be found at various spots along the beach.
Leo Carillo State Park
On the western outskirts of Malibu California is a state park with picturesque natural features and diverse beaches. Leo Carrillo State Park has rock arches, caves, tide pools, and trails to explore. Highway 1 follows the coastline behind each of the beaches and separates them from the rest of the park. This inland portion of the park offers a campground with over 100 camp sites and excellent camping facilities.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
The Malibu Lagoon is where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. Malibu’s Surfrider Beach has a long standing as a premier surfing beach.
On the east side of Malibu Creek Bridge, the famous Malibu Pier allows for excellent saltwater fishing. On the west side of Malibu Creek Bridge, visitors will find picnic tables and a nature area, excellent for bird watching and the study of a unique eco-system, a Southern California saltwater marsh.
With such a name you’d expect a pretty stunning spot. It lives up to its name and has even been the setting for many beach scenes in Hollywood movies. Paradise Cove is a great starting point for long beach walks. Heading east you’ll walk below some Malibu mansions and find some private beaches. Heading west you can walk below steep sandstone cliffs all the way to Little Dume Beach and Big Dume Beach in Point Dume State Beach.
The Getty Center
Spectacular museum boasts a most impressive collection by such luminaries as Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne, along with the architectural triumph of its six buildings and gardens.
Malibu Pier is a Southern California icon in an area once called the Riviera of America. The historic landmark is located in the heart of California’s surf culture. Surfers from around the world come to Surfrider Beach adjacent to Malibu Pier, known for its three-point break that offers rides of 300 yards or more. The festive seaside atmosphere of good food and fun is returning to the famous pier. Restaurants offering classic seaside dishes complement the pier’s beautiful coastal location and rich history.
Point Dume State Beach
Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. The beach is presently operated by Los Angeles County, which also operates Zuma County Beach. These facilities are noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid April migration period.
Solstice Canyon features several options for easy, moderate, or strenuous hikes through coastal sage scrub and riparian plant communities. Visitors can enjoy a picnic, a shady stroll along the Solstice Canyon Trail, or a more challenging climb up the Rising Sun Trail. The perennial waterfall is a popular hiking destination, and along the way you might encounter acorn woodpeckers, alligator lizards, fence lizards, or a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead.
Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek State Park, just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, features hiking, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding opportunities.
Things to do in Malibu
Malibu Wine Safari
A completely unique experience in a stunning atmosphere. You can choose from different tour options but the combination of getting to see the safari animals and do wine tasting is hard to beat. You get to feed animals (the friendly ones), see some others, and taste red and white wines that they grow in their on site vineyards. Feeding Stanley the giraffe is definitely a highlight! The property is huge and has such gorgeous views of rolling mountains and cool rock formations. Telephone: 818-578-4081 Web: Malibu Wine Safari
Fun Surf LA
They teach private, semi-private and group surf lessons for anyone starting from 10 years old and up. Their professional certified instructors will be there for you to do their best so you’ll get a perfect experience surfing! Telephone: 310-466-8659 Web: Fun Surf LA
Hana Paddle Boards
Hana paddle boards specializes in the sport of paddle boarding. They offer paddle board tours along the beautiful Malibu coastline. They supply everything you need to have a great day on the ocean. They will teach you how to paddle board and take you on a 2 hour tour of the most beautiful coastline in the world. Telephone: 818-648-7812 Web: Hana Paddle Boards
Malibu Coastal Adventures
Malibu Coastal Adventures Boat Adventures and Watersports Lessons, Paddleboarding, Surfing Lessons, Kitesurfing Lessons, Fishing, Diving, Coastal Cruises, Dolphin/Whale Watching Tours, Private Parties, Etc… Telephone: 310-701-1996 Web: Malibu Coastal Adventures
At kapowui, they live, eat, and dream surfing. They teach surfing because they want to share their love and stoke for the sport. All of their instructors are imbued with the Aloha spirit. Kapowui believes you are all part of one big family, so when they are doing a lesson, they are 100% focused and in the moment with you. Telephone: 310-985-4577 Web: Kapowui
Best Malibu Restaurants
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$$ – $$$ Malibu Farm
The cutest seaside atmosphere with wooden chandeliers that sway in the wind. There are two Malibu Farms eateries located on the pier right next to each other, the more casual cafe and the restaurant. Both have a relaxed vibe that beg to be photographed. A diverse menu with some healthy, fresh options. Malibu Farm Restaurant accepts reservations for dinner but besides that it’s first come first serve. Telephone: 310-456-1112 Web: Malibu Farm
See and be seen! This restaurant is where Hollywood and Malibu collide. Sushi fans also rejoice! It’s locate above the beach with great views of the ocean so even if you go for cocktails and skip the meal, its worth it. Make a reservation ahead of time. Telephone: 310-317-9040 Web: Nobu
$$ – $$$ Cafe Habana
Corn and cuban is how they describe their cuisine and no one’s mad about it. The menu features all of your tex-mex favorites that are all simple and done well. The atmosphere is laid back but romantic with hanging lights and greenery. Telephone: 310-317-0300 Web: Cafe Habana
Enjoy magnificent views of the Pacific coastline complemented by waterfalls and tropical plants, creating a romantic Mediterranean meets Malibu atmosphere. Guests can enjoy our California-style international cuisine during a relaxing weekday lunch, weekend brunch, or candlelit dinner with surrounding fire pits. Every table in the house has a panoramic view of the ocean. Telephone: 310-457-1519 Web: Geoffreys
$$ – $$$ Malibu Seafood
They offer prepared seafood to enjoy on their spacious patio’s overlooking the ocean. Treat yourself to Malibu Seafood’s special hand battered Alaskan Cod with their famous tartar sauce. Don’t miss their homemade clam chowder, coleslaw, and other specialty items prepared fresh daily. Telephone: 310-456-4530 Web: Malibu Seafood
Best Malibu Nightlife
A panoramic ocean view awaits you at Duke’s of Malibu complete with the outside “Barefoot Bar” which is sure to put you inside a Hawaiian luau, if only in a daydream. Relax, have fun and perhaps put on a little sunscreen. Once you start noshing on the outside bar deck it is difficult to find a reason to leave! Telephone: 310-317-0777 Web: Duke’s Malibu
The Blue Lounge
The Blue Lounge entertainment – lunch, sunset dinners & cocktails at Moonshadows. A sunny afternoon spent beachfront lounging, watching the ocean crash on the rocks below as the sun goes down is the perfect way to end the your day. Telephone: 310-456-3010 Web: The Blue Lounge
Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio
Located Just across from the beach, the Rosenthal Tasting Room offers a casual atmosphere in which to discover and enjoy our full selection of Rosenthal and Surfrider wines. Enjoy the Live Music Friday – Sunday and Food Trucks on Saturday and Sunday at Rosenthal with an ocean view from their exquisite garden patio. Telephone: 310-456-1392 Web: Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio
Kristy’s Wood Oven & Wine Bar
Kristy’s Malibu opened in March 2011. Sitting on a bluff overlooking Zuma Beach, diners can enjoy garden or ocean views from the dining room or the outdoor patios. Each evening guests are treated to breathtaking Malibu sunsets. Telephone: 310-457-1018 Web: Kristy’s Wood Oven & Wine Bar
Ollie’s Duck & Dive
Ollie’s Duck & Dive was created for the neighborhood. A place for the residents to gather together in a community atmosphere for a drink or two, enjoy lunch and dinner as a family or stay later to enjoy the acoustic sounds of the various local talent. Telephone: 310-589-2200 Web: Ollie’s Duck & Dive
Best Malibu Hotels
Malibu Beach Inn
Featuring a soothing luxury spa and rooms with private balconies overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The Malibu Beach Inn offers all-oceanfront rooms with contemporary wood furnishings and a hand-picked selection of wines. Malibu Beach Inn guests have direct access to the private beach. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Malibu Beach Inn.
The Surfrider Malibu
Located on the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, across the street from the world-famous Surfrider beach, The Surfrider is a contemporary boutique hotel with 20 rooms that gives guests an unparalleled and elevated visit to Malibu. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Surfrider Malibu.
Calimigos Guest Ranch & Beach Club
All of their private Cottages, Bungalows and Estate Rooms are thoughtfully designed to be cozy, intimate spaces to exist within the undisturbed nature of The Ranch. Calamigos Ranch is proud to be the gold standard for sustainable luxury and continue to incorporate this philosophy to their luxury eco- safe Resort. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Calimigos Guest Ranch & Beach Club.
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
Featuring an outdoor pool with poolside dinning, this luxury resort is 15 mi from Zuma Beach and the ocean views of Pacific Coast Highway. Two fine dining options and full service spa is provided on-site. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village.
Hyatt Regency Westlake
Located minutes from the scenic beaches of Malibu, California. With a unique combination of outstanding business facilities and a resort-like atmosphere, this Mediterranean-style hotel is an oasis of sophistication in the Westlake Village business complex in Thousand Oaks. Designed for the modern traveler, our Westlake Village hotel offers inviting spaces where you can think, and places to get away and relax. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Hyatt Regency Westlake.