California Travel Articles
Visiting Malibu And Its Many Beaches
Malibu isn't just a beach; it's practically a whole coastline. Stretching for roughly 27 miles, Malibu comprises about a dozen beaches from Decker Rd. (Hwy. 23) in the west, to Topanga Canyon Blvd. in the east. At this part of the California coast, the beaches face mostly rather than west, except for Westward Beach near Pt. Dume.
The Malibu beaches lie along the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, which are so often subjected to the vicious circle of fires, floods and mudslides. The Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is squeezed between the beach and the cliffs much of the way. The ocean side is lined with highway hugging houses of the mostly rich and/or famous.
The beaches themselves range from wide and sandy to so narrow that the waterline comes up directly under someone's deck. Rocky coves and tide pools are also plentiful.
Malibu itself does not have a cohesive downtown section. Restaurants are spread out, as are a few shopping centers sprinkled with chain stores mixed with specialty shops. Residential sections vary from small, crowded beachfront houses to mountaintop mansions.
GETTING TO MALIBU BEACH CALIFORNIA
You can take the I-10 west through Santa Monica, then veer north onto PCH (Hwy 1) as it hits the coast. Keep driving, and you'll soon be in Malibu.
Alternatively, from Highway 101 in the San Fernando Valley, you can take a 15-20 minute winding drive through the Santa Monica Mountains along Topanga Canyon Blvd., Malibu Canyon Rd. (Los Virgenes exit), Kanan Dume Rd., or Decker Road. All of these drop down into some part of the Malibu coast, with Malibu Canyon Road taking you the closest to the pier, lagoon, Surfrider Beach and shopping areas.
THE MALIBU BEACHES
Starting at the Ventura County line and heading east towards Santa Monica, there's Leo Carrillo State Beach, which has camping, tide pools, trails and interesting rock formations. Then comes Nicholas Canyon County Beach, where you park on the bluff and hike down to surf or dive.
The next three beaches are scenic coves with more unusual rock formations. El Pescador State Beach at the end of Decker Rd. has a narrow sandy beach and picnic tables on the bluff above. La Piedra State Beach is similar, only further east.
El Matador State Beach is larger, with a larger pay parking lot and a trail and stairway down to the beach. It also has stunning sea stacks, which attract cormorants and other sea birds.
Broad Beach Road goes through a residential neighborhood between Pacific Coast Highway and the beach. there are a couple of beach access points that go between the houses. You can enjoy the beach at the end of the path or steps, but be careful not to trespass onto private property. In marked contrast, Zuma Beach County Park is a wide sandy beach with lots of facilities, including restrooms, showers, dressing rooms, snack stands, volleyball, swings and a large pay parking lot.
Point Dume State Beach is next to the Point Dume Headlands, which has some trails. The beach has tide pools and sandstone cliffs. Westward Beach is the section towards the Point, which faces west.
Paradise Cove is a small but lovely beach with expensive parking. No surfing is allowed. Escondido Beach can be found near Malibu Cove Colony Drive. The access point is next to a blue and white trash can. This is a diving spot. Corral State Beach/Solstice Beach is a narrow sandy beach with street parking.
Where Malibu Road veers off PCH through another neighborhood, there are several public stairways next to telltale blue and white trash cans. These paths or stairways go between private homes, so take care not to disturb the residents or trespass. Once on the beach, you must stay a certain distance away from the rear of the houses; below the high tide line should be safe enough.
Malibu Bluffs County Park is off of Pacific Coast Highway, at the end of Malibu Canyon Road, across from Pepperdine University. While not a beach itself, you can park there, use the restrooms and hike down a one and a half mile trail down through the bluffs with magnificent views to Malibu Road and the beach access points mentioned previously. Exhilarating! (But don't forget you have to hike back up later.)
Malibu Lagoon State Beach bears an estuary, the Malibu Lagoon, the historic Adamson House and museum, the Malibu Pier, and popular Surfrider Beach which has great waves for surfing.
East of the pier along PCH, are more public stairways to the beach between houses, marked by the blue and white trash cans. Las Tunas State Beach is narrow, sandy and rocky in places. Be careful of rusted metal groins under the water if you swim there.
Topanga State Beach lies at the end of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. It is also a narrow sandy beach with rocky parts. There is a pay parking lot, but people also park up along Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
About the Author
by Laura Eggers
Laura Eggers is a beach lover with a website. http://www.southern-california-beaches-vacation-guide.com offers visitors a plethora of information about the different beach areas to help with planning their beach vacation in sunny Southern California.