The Pacific Coast Highway acts as a slim divider between towering hills and the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean. Malibu’s 21 miles of picturesque coastline are scattered with exclusive and mesmerizing coves, beaches, and prime surf and swim locations.
Located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, it's surprisingly easy to find more remote and secluded shoreline spots to spend a day. Here are seven must-see beach spots to escape to a seaside paradise for the day without the crowds.
1. Big Dume
Address: 29245 Cliffside Dr., Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: Big Dume, which is also a national park, is the only beach in the exclusive Point Dume neighborhood in Malibu with free public access to visitors. There is limited parking in front of the park, but you can always find a spot on one of the neighboring streets and walk the short stroll to the entrance.
The park is well worth the visit, with multiple lookout points that are perfect for dolphin and whale watching. The lookout points also make for a perfect spot to take a 180-degree view of an alluring Malibu sunset. When the tides are low, the beach is just as splendid to visit as the park. Take a wander down the over 100 cascading wooden steps that lead to the shoreline. From here, you can take in sights of local surfers catching waves, or make your way south along the sand and come to Little Dume, Big Dume’s elusive little sister.
2. Lechuza Beach
Address: 31712 Broad Beach Rd., Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: This is one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets. In the luxurious seaside neighborhood of Broad Beach, there are a few public access points to enter the dreamy sandy shores. Due to high tides, many of these are only enjoyable for a few hours a day. Luckily, on the northern end of Broad Beach lies Lechuza Beach. You could easily drive by it and not even know it was there. Its entrance is hidden behind lush greenery and you must take some steep steps to get down to the ocean. This sandy beach is also home to stunning rock formations, tidepools, and crystal-clear water, which is perfect for swimming.
3. Escondido Beach
Address: Coastal access found next to 27420 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: The name itself means hidden beach in Spanish, and this is a true hidden gem in Malibu. It hasn't always been the easiest beach to access, but the California Coastal Commission voted last summer to create another access point to Escondido Beach, making this hidden beach a little more accessible.
As of now, one of the best ways to enter this untapped treasure is along the PCH next to the swanky and pricey Malibu restaurant Geoffry's. Because of the beach’s remote access, it’s a great opportunity to come prepared with a picnic and beach supplies to spend the day and soak in some rays. Once at the sparkling coastline you can also walk west on the beach and arrive at the famous Paradise Cove beach, a better option than going to Paradise Cove directly and spending up to the $70 they can charge for parking.
4. Carbon Beach
Address: 22126 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: Carbon Beach, AKA Billionaire's Beach, got its nickname due to its ultra-wealthy residents whose homes are on its shores. Famed record and film producer David Geffen famously fought to deny public access to the beach, but in 2007 he lost his battle. Now, one of the public access points is referred to as "Geffen’s Gate." Because of the many homes on this stunning coastline, it doesn’t leave much room on the beach, especially when it's high tide. When the tide is low, however, it makes for a perfect place to have a stroll and take in views of the miraculous oceanfront homes or find a sandy nook to sunbathe.
5. El Matador
Price: $10 per day for parking
Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: On the northern coast of Malibu, you’ll find the gorgeous sandy sanctuary of El Matador State Beach. There is a parking lot which you must pay to use, but it's well worth it, as it's just a short walk from there to the picturesque beach. Here you’ll find a breathtaking coastline scattered with tidepools, fascinating rock formations, and celestial blue waves crashing upon its stunning shores. El Matador is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring its unique beauty — there are even a couple of caves tucked into the rocky hillside.
6. Malibu Lagoon
Price: Parking for $3 per hour or $12 for the day
Address: 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: The Malibu Lagoon State Beach is located just across the way from Malibu’s town center Cross Creek, a perfect place to grab a bite before heading down to this secluded and lovely waterfront.
For a fee, you can park in the parking lot and take winding dirt paths that will lead you down to the shore with incredible views along the way. Different species of birds fly about and bathe in the lagoon waters. Once you're at the sand, the expansive blue ocean is remarkable, perfect for swimming or trying to catch a glimpse of some dolphins playing in the waves. Just a short walk to the east, you can also find the infamous Malibu surfer’s paradise Surfrider Beach. After a day of exploring the lagoons and beaches and taking in the sun, you can swing by The Adamson House, a historical landmark in Malibu. The Spanish-style home was built in 1929 and is nestled on the shores of the Malibu Lagoon. It's now a museum and open to visitors daily.
7. Westward Beach
Price: Prices for parking vary by time of year and day of the week
Address: 7103 Westward Beach Rd., Malibu, CA
Why You Need To Go: You’ve undoubtedly seen this beach before, as it has been featured as the backdrop to countless TV shows and films. The dramatic sheer rock wall cradles one end of the beach while the famous Zuma Beach lies at the other end. In the high season, you have to pay to enter by car, but it's worth it as once you’re there you’ll most likely want to spend the entire day. There are public bathrooms on site and the broadness of the beach makes it perfect for sunbathing and having a picnic. After a day in the sun and surf, you can stop by The Sunset Restaurant for happy hour, a charming restaurant located just across from the sand at the entrance of Westard Beach.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.