27 miles of great views: so reads the wooden sign welcoming Malibu, affectionately renamed “The Bu” by the locals. Not a bad presentation, in line with the notoriety of this city along the Pacific coast highway northwest of Santa Monica in Los Angeles County. And here we are, in another of the "highlights" of the south-Californian coast.
After stopping in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Long Beach, we couldn't miss Malibu, a pearl on the Pacific Ocean also chosen as a place of residence by many celebrities from the world of cinema, entertainment, sport and music. These residences arouse a certain curiosity but it is not only for this reason that you should get here because there is much more to discover in this seaside resort of about 13.000 inhabitants than for its beaches and the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains make you forget the proximity to the metropolis of Los Angeles; with respect to it seems to be in another world, we are in another dimension where the outdoors is the main protagonist.
- Malibu: where it is
- The beaches of Malibu
- Topanga Beach
- Carbon Beach
- Malibu Lagoon State Beach
- Dan Blocker Beach
- Escondido Beach
- Paradise Cove
- Little Dume Beach e Big Dume Beach
- Westward Beach
- Zuma Beach
- Broad Beach
- the sun beach
- The Matador
- North Beach / Leo Carrillo State Beach
- Point Mugu State Park
- Other things to see in Malibu
- The Malibu pier
- Getty Villa
- Surf Museum
- Solstice Canyon
- Malibu Wine Hikes
- Adamson House
- I shopped in Malibu
- Where to eat in Malibu
- Where sleeping in Malibu
- The events of Malibu
- Famous residents of Malibu
Malibu: where it is
Malibu is a Los Angeles County city located between the popular Santa Monica and Santa Barbara resorts. The best way to reach it is by car because it will give you complete freedom to organize your day by choosing the attractions and beaches that interest you most (in this regard I recommend our article on car rental in Los Angeles)
Departing from Santa Monica we travel the Pacific coast highway (PCH) northbound. There is a lot of traffic (we knew it, they told us), but the sun, the palm trees and the glimpse of the sea give us a good hand and the cars do not disturb us that much.
The beaches of Malibu
Please note: We inquired locally about the coasts and the situation is as follows: Malibu is not just an exclusive area; there are beaches or parts of them that are also accessible to visitors like us and to residents who do not own the property near the shoreline. But it must also be said that there is a bit of "guerrilla warfare" with the owners of the villas who support the ban on access to the beaches in front of their homes. Actually a California law states that the shore is public and therefore every beach, in that area, is accessible to everyone. Diatribes and privately owned signs (more or less truthful) aside, there are miles of beaches left for us who are already pounding with sunscreen in hand. But it was necessary to inquire why here with the fines you do not mess around! So we must pay close attention to the signs and understand where we can transit and stop. In support of what has been briefly explained, we recommend that you consult this pdf by looking in particular at the diagram at the top right entitled where is the public beach?
If you think of a coast as a natural, almost primordial setting, many beaches in Malibu reflect this concept, while others are minimally affected by the close presence of houses; when the houses are further away, on the cliffs, the charm remains unchanged. The list of beaches is long and the satisfaction is something subjective, therefore considering the panoramic development of the coast and the coastline along the Pacific coast highway, we can say that it is worth stopping when you are attracted to a particular shot and access from the allowed points.
In many cases you can park freely along the highway avoiding paid stops, but you must be extremely careful when crossing it !!! Our beach tour develops as we ascend from Santa Monica. We "invested" three days to get to know this beautiful coast.
Whatever you decide to do and whatever coastline you decide to visit, make sure you are on the beach before sunset, definitely the most evocative time of day.
Topanga Beach (18700 PCH) is the closest Malibu beach to Los Angeles, a beautiful promenade located near the Pacific Palisades neighborhood. It is also popular with surfers. On the eastern end is the excellent restaurant Mastro's Ocean Club (18412 Pacific Coast Hwy).
Carbon Beach (22466 PCH). After years of litigation with the owners of the villas, a central public access was also opened in 2015 in addition to those at both ends. Officially it is called Carbon Beach West Access which, however, creates a bit of confusion for the existence of another access point to the west but many call it "Ackerberg access”As a sign of gratitude to a certain Mrs. Ackerberg who fought for this public entrance, which is, moreover, without architectural barriers.
Since this beautiful beach is about 2,5 kilometers long, the new central access is strategic. Due to the presence of over seventy VIP homes, Carbon Beach is commonly called "the beach of millionaires". And the breathtaking houses are one of the main reasons why Carbon is very popular.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Malibu Lagoon State Beach (23200 PCH) is located where the Malibu Creek forms a lagoon before flowing completely into the ocean. There's a parcheggio at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road. From here dirt paths are ideal for a pleasant excursion with bird-watching opportunities.
Part of the coastline is known as Surfrider Beach (23050 PCH) one of the perfect wave beaches, near the pier, transformed into the first World Surfing Reserve, i.e. the first protected area in the world to surf during the winter. Precisely because she is dedicated to surfing, here you cannot practice boogie boarding or body surfing. However, there is a part of the coast where you can simply enjoy the sun but it is well known that when you are there it is difficult to take your eyes off the spectacle offered by the surfers. You can park along the highway or at the entrance to Adamson House (23200 PCH).
Dan Blocker Beach
Dan Blocker Beach (aka Corral State Beach, 26000 PCH). Here you try the famous ahi burger (fish burgers) of the Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe (25653 Pacific Coast Hwy) where “the fish is always fresh” (so they say). Then if you cross Pacific Hwy you will arrive at the Malibu Beach RV Park campground.
Escondido Beach (27200 PCH) is a sandy beach south of Point Dume dotted with vegetation and houses directly on the shoreline, practically close to the water. There is public access via a long staircase west of Geoffrey's Malibu restaurant (27400 PCH) where there are some spaces to park, actually few, or you can enter from the bridge over the river hidden creek near number 27148. This area is also popular with divers.
Paradise Cove (28128 PCH) is a beautifully landscaped bay, surrounded by a high coast but it must be said that it is one equipped bathing establishment with sunbeds and restaurant, which can be an asset for some and a defect for others, depending on what you want. If you are looking for a long, quiet stretch of sand, this is not the place to be but in our opinion it is a must see nonetheless.
Little Dume Beach e Big Dume Beach
Little Dume Beach (Whitesands Place) si trova in una small bay. When conditions are optimal it is popular with surfers otherwise it is a scenic walk under steep cliffs that are home to millionaire residences. Public access is only from Paradise Cove Beach or from Big Dume Beach then you have to walk a bit on the tumble dryer.
Big Dume Beach (29245 Cliffside Drive, also known as Dume Cove Beach) is the main beach of Point Dume State Beach (Cliffside Dr. & Birdview Ave.), a shoreline with headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and wide access from where people come for swimming, surfing, diving and fishing.
The beach has the shape of a crescent which is accessed through a walk in a small nature reserve and along a long steep staircase, then from there paths climb up to the point called Point Dume, a popular spot for gray whale watching during the February to April migration, but it's also a favorite and spectacular place to rock climb and jump into the water.
There is one at 29245 Cliffside Drive small parking area which holds about ten cars (for 2 hours and is usually full). But that's not all! You access the beautiful hidden beach of Pirate’s Cove under the Point Dume viewpoint; we have to "earn it" by passing behind the rocks of nearby Westward Beach which create a sort of wall but it is absolutely worth it. Watching the enterprising climbers grappling with the rocks is a spectacle.
Westward Beach (7103 Westward Beach Rd. - reference address also for the Pirate's Cove car park) is a long and wide beach, a beautiful stretch of about five kilometers with cliffs that surround it. There are lifeguards and restrooms here and The Sunset restaurant is located. From the parking lot of Westward Road there is easy access to the trails that climb up to Point Dume Natural Preserve.
Zuma Beach (30000 PCH) is ideal for families and frequented by locals; it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the California coast, about three kilometers long, located at the north end of Malibu; it has soft sand and is ideal for relaxing in a "natural" setting, with no homes around.
There are volleyball courts on site so you can exercise and lie in the sun. There are also toilets, picnic areas and lifeguard posts to protect those who venture into strong currents.
Broad Beach (also Trancas Beach, 31200 Broad Beach Rd.) Is one long public beach in front of some houses that must be constantly protected from the erosion of the beach. Due to the high tide during the winter there is no sand for walking.
In summer, however, the beach is excellent for walking barefoot. Surfers head here when conditions are right. Public access is between the houses next to numbers 31344 and 31200 on Broad Beach Rd. Another way to access the beach is by walking north of the parking lot near Zuma Beach.
the sun beach
El Sol Beach (33550 PCH) is a public beach in Malibu but despite this it can only be accessed via the coast at low tide or by water because some owners opposed the construction of a public staircase despite the funds having been found for the project. But it is worth arriving here if you love quiet spaces, corners of peace and genuine beauty.
(32215 Pacific Coast Highway). Here the ocean is rough and it is better not to take a swim but the scenery with ravines and boulders is superb; the sunset is phenomenal so let's plan the day well by going there at the right time. The splendid arched rock formation called Rock Arch. There is a paid car park where the path leading to the (somewhat steep) staircase leading to the beach begins.
North Beach / Leo Carrillo State Beach
As far as this beach is concerned, it is necessary to make a clarification, it is a "3 x 1" starting from Leo Carrillo State Park (35000 W. Pacific Coast Hwy) through which it is accessed. At the entrance to the park we find a paid parking and there is also a small visitor center (not always open).
This park goes all the way to the coast Leo Carrillo State Beach, splendid at sunset and divided as follows: North Beach, large, family-friendly and dog-friendly (be careful to use the leash!), Follows Point, a rocky area with pools and caves that are easy to explore at low morning tide e South Beach, a beautiful sandy beach also with pools created by the low tide. Near North Beach we point out Staircase Beach, a narrow beach popular with surfers (40000 Pacific Coast Hwy).
Point Mugu State Park
Point Mugu State Park (9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway), located west of the Santa Monica Mountains, has eight kilometers of coastline with cliffs, beaches and sand dunes, hills, two river canyons and wide grassy valleys. There are also miles of hiking trails.
Other things to see in Malibu
The Malibu pier
The enchanting beaches and proximity to the Los Angeles studios have meant that Malibu has been chosen to shoot films, TV series and music videos, such as Ironman, Hannah Montana, The OC and Two and a Half Men.
A short distance from the State Lagoon Beach, Malibu sports its beautiful pier (23000 PCH), which is much clearer of various structures than other piers in California. It is the ideal place for a relaxing walk that also allows you to have a view of the cliffs and the multi-million dollar residences but here we also stop to observe the patient fishermen who adopt various techniques to capture their prey. And when you get to the end of the pier it's worth pausing for a while to gaze at the ocean with an unobstructed overview.
You can eat in one of the most popular restaurants, from Malibu Farm, a bar-restaurant with organic cuisine that is located right there, at the terminus, with the motto "from the dock to the table". And it couldn't be different! But the other restaurants near the pier are also interesting, with picnic tables, benches, surf "shows" and wonderful sunsets.
The beaches have "filled our eyes", but we shouldn't stop here if possible; there is much more to discover starting with Getty Villa (located in the Pacific Palisades district) structured as an ancient Roman villa exhibiting about 45.000 pieces of Greek, Roman and Etruscan art dating back to the period from 6500 BC to 440 AD In 1954 the oilman Paul Getty created a art Gallery at his home in Malibu but after a few years the space to exhibit became insufficient. Hence the decision to build a villa nearby in which to exhibit his works.
The Getty Villa, one of the headquarters of the Getty Museum, was opened in 1974 and is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway - Pacific Palisades, between Malibu and Los Angeles. Many visitors come here to see one of the most important pieces: theAthlete from Fano, a life-size bronze nude. Except Tuesdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving, admission is free from 10am to 17pm, but advance reservations are recommended. Note that parking with private vehicles costs $ 15 and "only" $ 10 after three in the afternoon. Otherwise you can opt to reach the property by public transport.
To find out more you can read our article on how to visit the Villa Getty.
If, on the other hand, you are more interested in the "beach-sea" topic, you can find contemporary masterpieces at Surf Museum (inside Pepperdine University's Payson Library), in which 30 historic surfboards are exhibited, some dating back to the early twentieth century.
Since California universities are said to be probably the most beautiful in the world, we recommend that those interested in campus visit the Pepperdine University, which is located right on the hills of Malibu, also because the view from up there is spectacular and there is also a nice terrace. Unfortunately, this university is one of the most expensive in the country.
Solstice Canyon (3455 Solstice Canyon Rd, near Dan Blocker County Beach) is a trail that crosses the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains along which you can enjoy wonderful views, including the ocean and a wide variety of plants and fauna. The canyon is also famous for its perennial waterfalls. The complete excursion of the Solstice Canyon, once inhabited by the Chumash tribe, would be about ten kilometers long but shorter variants can be made.
Malibu Wine Hikes
Malibu Wine Hikes (32111 Mulholland Hwy) allows for a spectacular one panoramic tour in the vineyards enriched by probable encounters with fauna along the way and by wine tasting at the end of the day. Be careful to have a sober driver on the way back because the road is winding and dark in the evening.
Adamson House (23200 PCH). It is the beach house of a certain Adamson family, in a Spanish colonial revival style with original furnishings from the early 1900s. It is not a property inhabited by a rich family, it is instead a historic home open to visitors from all over the world as a rare testimony of the lifestyle of that era.
Occupies one of the most idyllic oceanfront spots in all of Southern California. Located near the Malibu Pier between the famous Surfrider Beach and the lagoon, the house boasts an exotic mix of Spanish and Moorish influences, with beautiful displays of decorative tiles, hand-carved doors and frescoes.
I shopped in Malibu
If, on the other hand, you are in the mood for shopping, take a trip to two exclusive shopping centers located next to each other (perhaps even to find one or two of the local celebrities): the Malibu Lumber Yard (3939 Cross Creek Rd.) And the Malibu Country Mart (3835 Cross Creek Rd.) Where the first GROM on the West Coast recently opened, a renowned chain of yoghurt shops with a very themed name here if you think what it means "Beginner surfer".
The outdoor setting of the two complexes does not seem in line with being in Malibu but inside the shops are inviting and refined and there are excellent restaurants including upscale Italian cuisine and Chinese delicacies. We also report the Point Dume Plaza Shopping Center (29169 Heathercliff Rd.) For a nice outdoor atmosphere in which to shop and eat.
For those who do not have the necessary equipment to practice water sports Malibu Surf Shack is the right place to rent them. In addition, the staff gives surfing and kayaking lessons and organizes exploratory tours of the area with paddleboards and kayaks; it is a real institution of the place.
Where to eat in Malibu
It is fair to point out that Malibu is a quiet residential area that seems to fade after dark even though parties and events take place in the villas. A place where we recommend spending an evening in Malibu is the Moonshadows (20356 Pacific Coast Hwy). During the day it is a pleasant restaurant overlooking the ocean while at night it is illuminated in blue and then what could be better than having dinner or having an aperitif with music and the waves of the sea in the background?
Let us recall the already mentioned Geoffrey's Malibu (27400 Pacific Coast Hwy) in Escondido Beach and we also point out the Latin atmosphere of Havana coffee (3939 Crosscreek Rd.) At the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping center; for the record one of the owners is the husband of Cindy Crawford.
Duke's Malibu (21150 Pacific Coast Hwy) is dedicated to the surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, swimming champion and actor who in his youth was a lifeguard in Malibu and taught surfing. On the sands of Carbon Beach the Carbon Beach Restaurant (22878 Pacific Coast Hwy), at the Carbon Beach Inn, has a terrace overlooking the sea and a romantic atmosphere with breathtaking views.
Where sleeping in Malibu
Staying overnight in Malibu is not economically impossible. We point out two affordable alternatives. The Malibu Country Inn (6506 Westward Beach Rd.) Has rooms nestled in a bluff with garden, ocean or mountain views. The M Malibu (22541 Pacific Coast Highway) is very close to the beaches, shops and restaurants. Rooms have balconies with partial ocean views.
For the sake of information we point out the Malibu Beach Inn (22878 Pacific Coast Highway), located on the so-called "Billionaires Beach", which has undergone a major refurbishment which may affect our portfolio. The luxury rooms and suites have stunning views of the beach. But let's not forget that you can camp beautifully at the Malibu Beach RV Park (25801 Pacific Coast Hwy) which houses RVs, trailers and tents in an enviable location with palm trees, ocean or mountain views.
The events of Malibu
An important event in the city is the Malibu Arts Festival (PCH & Civic Center Way), the annual arts festival that has been taking place for over 45 years in the last weekend of July. This two-day event is considered “one of the nation's finest outdoor art festivals” and is attended by over 200 highly talented painters, sculptors, artists and photographers with their works. Of course, there is no shortage of restaurant corners.
Famous residents of Malibu
We mention some famous residents: Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Streisand, Pierce Brosnan, Julia Roberts. Celebrity Hunt on Malibu Beach? We would like to make a clarification: it is not at all easy to meet VIPs. Almost everyone, in fact, prefers to sunbathe and relax in their villas which are partly seen on the hills or on the cliffs behind the beach. For those interested in VIP residences, Starline tours offers the Malibu Stars’ Homes Tour.
Learn more about the Celebrity Homes Tour
Stroll along the beach, bask in the sun, marvel at the surfer's acrobatics, sip an aperitif at sunset, enjoy an excellent dinner facing the ocean and listen to the voice of the sea. All of this is peace, relaxation, poetry… it's Malibu.