Malibu Vacations

Surfing in Malibu
Surfers in Malibu, California (Rodd Halstead)

Malibu Beach Travel Tips

  • Surfrider Beach, by Malibu's pier, draws surfers to its legendary waves. You can rent beach gear on the pier and set up in the sand, cast a line from the pier, or eat at one of the pier's classic restaurants.
  • Find a beach party at Zuma Beach, a popular summer destination for Angelenos and Valley residents, who swim, kiteboard, and surf here. But be careful: Rip currents can be strong.
  • Pay the parking fee at Paradise Cove and you'll have access to the private beach here. (If you eat at the adjacent restaurant, you can have your parking validated.)
  • Point Dume State Beach has tide pools and a bluff-top viewing platform perfect for seeing whales migrating offshore.
  • Want to camp near the beach? Head to Leo Carrillo State Park, a popular spot that takes reservations seven months in advance. Sycamore-shaded sites along the 1.5-mile-long beach attract surfers, windsurfers, fishers, and beachcombers.
  • Malibu's well-heeled homeowners are particularly sensitive to trespassing, but you can still walk the beach between the mean high-tide line down to the water.

That southern California lifestyle—you know, gorgeous houses perched next to long beaches, movie stars in convertibles, surfers plying the waters during a golden sunset&8212;is never more present than it is in Malibu, a seaside city about 40 miles from central Los Angeles. Angelenos come here for a break from the city, and people from everywhere visit to experience the classic surf scene and relax on the sandy beaches.

But mountains also play an enormous role in the lifestyle of Malibu and its residents. The Santa Monica Mountains form the backdrop to Malibu's shores and draw hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians to an extensive network of trails. These mountains were also the setting for many Westerns and other movies and TV shows.

Malibu's charms can make it a busy place: The Pacific Coast Highway can choke with traffic, parking can be difficult, and, once you're on the beach, you're surrounded by other sun-seekers. But there are more secluded spots if you do a little exploring&8212;and the crowded spots are attractive for a reason, particularly at Surfrider Beach, the heart of the Malibu surf experience.

Published: 17 Jun 2010 | Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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