The beaches of Malibu are some of the prettiest in all of Southern California! If you are headed to Los Angeles, make sure to plan some time to explore the best Malibu beaches as they will take your breath away…
The beach community of Malibu is made famous by many movies and shows that have been filmed here over the years. Plus, it is home to many celebrities and luxury homes that are jaw-dropping as they have a front-row view of the ocean.
Visiting Malibu is the perfect excuse to jump in your car and spend the day or weekend on a road trip to see the top beaches in Malibu!
Where Is Malibu?
Known as having some of the best beaches in Los Angeles, Malibu stretches over 21 miles of coastline that hugs the Pacific Ocean. Don’t expect a big town or an obvious aha, we made it!
As you leave the hectic city of LA or Santa Monica behind and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), there isn’t a whole lot to see beyond the beaches and Santa Monica mountains.
But that’s the beauty of it to escape the urban chaos and slow down to appreciate the abundant nature!
The town of Malibu is quite small and charming with most of the beaches listed near the town or north of it.
The Malibu Pier is located just one mile south of town. So, if you see the pier, then the town will be on your right ahead.
Note: If you are looking to take an epic road trip further up California’s coast, then explore The Epic California Big Sur Road Trip!
How To Get To Malibu
To visit the beaches of Malibu, you will need a car as there is no other way to really enjoy this region otherwise.
If you are flying into Los Angeles at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), then I recommend renting a car there.
Once you have rented your car, head north on the 405 Freeway, then west on the 10, and then hop onto Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1 north up to Malibu. From LAX it should take about an hour depending on traffic.
From Orange County, the drive to Malibu is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Or if you are coming from San Diego International Airport, the drive is around 2.5 to 3 hours by car.
To find the best rates on your car rental, explore here!
Tip: Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you start out on this road trip. There are not many services other than in the town of Malibu itself.
Malibu Pier Address: 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
How Much Time To Spend in Malibu?
You can easily make visiting the beaches of Malibu a full-day trip from anywhere in Los Angeles.
But if you want to unplug with a good amount of beach time and combine some hikes or wine tasting then 2-3 days is ideal.
Tip: If you would like to do a combo of wine tasting and sightseeing, the Malibu Sightseeing & Wine Tasting Tour takes you around in a cool vintage VW bus!
Beach Hotels in Malibu
Unlike most cities, Malibu is a small town along a thin strip of land snug between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. There won’t be a ton of huge hotels but in my opinion, that is a plus…
Escape the city life of LA and relax as you fall asleep to the crashing waves. All of these hotels are on the beach with the exception of Calamigos Guest Ranch. The bonus to staying there is access to lots of hiking and wine tasting nearby.
Beach Trip Essentials
- To prevent getting a sunburn, have a packable hat, sunglasses, and reef-safe sunscreen handy.
- Carry all your belongings in the perfect beach bag!
- Carry a lightweight travel towel that is great for the beach.
- Have a cute pair of sandals that are made for getting wet!
- Or if you plan to do a lot of walking, look no further than these comfy walking shoes that happen to look great too…
- Always keep your phone charged with a portable power bank.
- Keep your drinks cool in a collapsible travel cooler or in an individual reusable water bottle.
- Want to make sure your clothes and electronics stay dry? Then get this awesome dry bag!
- Want to catch up on reading a book? A Kindle is small and fits perfectly in your bag.
- A portable waterproof bluetooth speaker is a fun companion at the beach.
Best Beaches Of Malibu
I’ve listed the beaches starting from the north and making our way down south to the Malibu Pier. But you can see any of these beaches in any order you want!
1. Leo Carrillo State Beach
The 1.5 miles of beach known as Leo Carrillo State Beach is one of Mailbu’s northern beaches that is quite popular. It was named after the actor Leo Carrillo who was popular for not only his acting but his love for nature.
Numerous movies and shows were filmed here over the years such as Gidget, Beach Blanket Bingo, Grease, The Karate Kid, and The Craft. It is a beautiful sandy beach that has rock formations, sea caves, and tide pools. Or just take a swim to cool off in the Pacific Ocean!
When you have had enough of napping on the beach and it is low tide, you can explore the sea life in the tide pools. The tide pools and sea caves can be found in the rocky section.
Dogs are welcomed on a leash but only in one section of Leo Carrillo Beach which is north of lifeguard tower 3. Dogs are welcomed at the nearby campgrounds but not on the surrounding trails.
Tip: If you want to see where Leo Carrillo lived, you can read more about it in my post 25 Fun Things To Do In Carlsbad, California and visit his ranch!
Address: 35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: Parking is $12.00 per car for the entire day or you can pay for 1 hour at $3.00 or 3 hours for $9.00.
2. El Matador Beach
The first time I looked down from the cliffs and saw El Matador Beach my jaw dropped and all I could say was wow! If you are short on time and can only make it to one beach in Malibu, make it to El Matador!
Although all the beaches of Malibu are spectacular, El Matador is just plain and simple, ridiculously beautiful. What makes it stand out?
When you park, you are at the top of high bluffs or a cliff that has an insane view looking down not only at the beach but up and down the coastline and the Pacific Ocean.
What you will quickly notice are the striking and unusual rock formations that are scattered along the beach. You will feel like a kid exploring every nook and cranny that this unique beach spot has to offer!
Some rock formations have small arches within them and others provide the perfect photo backdrop.
There were a few model photoshoots going on while visiting. It’s no surprise as it is a well-known photoshoot area for the pros especially at sunset.
Make your way down the steep winding stairs and don’t forget to pause every now and then to take in the different vantage points!
Note: No dogs are allowed on the beach. Restrooms located at the top near parking.
Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: Currently you need to pay $8.00 to park at the automated machines with a credit card. There are also picnic tables available. Open from 8:00 am to sunset.
3. Zuma Beach
Zuma Beach is a long and wide white sandy beach that is a beautiful 1.8-miles of coastline. Unlike El Matador, access to Zuma is very easy as you can walk out onto the sand from the parking lot.
Remember the 1990s show Baywatch with the infamous David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson? If you were a fan then you will be happy to know that many scenes of Baywatch were filmed at Zuma Beach.
There are lifeguards on duty but real ones! Not the Baywatch version where they come running in slow motion to rescue you…
Zuma is known to have strong rip currents so take caution and check with lifeguards if you are concerned. And don’t be surprised if you see a pod of dolphins passing by as they do make an appearance at times!
If you are a more active beachgoer and want to get in some cardio, join in on one of the beach volleyball games going on.
Notes: There are restrooms and food concession stands. No dogs are allowed.
Address: 30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: If you are lucky, you can find a parking spot for free on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) but do read signs to confirm.
Otherwise, there is plenty of parking but there is a fee that really ranges depending on the time you spend and the season. Open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
4. Malibu Lagoon State Beach
This location is really home to two awesome beaches, Malibu Lagoon State Beach, and slightly to the south is Malibu Surfrider Beach.
The Malibu Creek empties into the lagoon which then flows into the Pacific Ocean and divides these two beaches.
After parking, make your way along the serene trail to the beach passing through the Malibu Lagoon. Keep your eyes spotted for various birds in their natural habitat.
Once you get to the beach and look north, that is Malibu Lagoon State Beach with views for days. You might also notice very expensive beach houses that line this pristine stretch of sand.
If you go south, this section is known as Malibu Surfrider Beach which runs down to the Malibu Pier. Surfrider’s is pretty famous as a surfing hot spot so if you want to catch a wave this is the beach for you.
This is one of those beaches that is perfect for going on a walk where the ocean kisses the sand!
Notes: Dogs not allowed on the beach or trails, just the parking lot which doesn’t really make a lot of sense…
Address: 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: There is a fee to park of $12.00 per car for the entire day or you can pay for 1, 2, or 3 hours instead. Open daily from 8:00 am to sunset.
5. Malibu Pier
Although the beach at the Malibu Pier isn’t as wide as some of the other ones mentioned, it is a must to visit.
The Malibu Pier was built in 1905 and has that vintage feel painted in white and its two small towers at the end of it. You quickly imagine how it was considered the Riviera of America.
In each direction, you are met with breathtaking views of California’s coast that is an attraction in itself!
Looking north of the pier you have excellent surfing at Surfrider’s and to the south, you have Carbon Beach. Carbon Beach happens to be known as Billionaire’s Beach for its quite wealthy and famous residents.
At the beginning of the pier is one of my favorite Malibu Restaurants, The Malibu Farm Restaurant. It has not only superior farm-to-table food but the ocean view ambiance seals the deal.
Sit back with a drink, some food, and just take in the ocean air…
Address: 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: There is a parking lot at the pier, across the street, and free parking on PCH if you can find any. Parking in any of the lots will vary per season but expect to pay from $10 to $20 per day.
Best Time To Visit Malibu
Southern California is fortunate enough to have exceptional weather year-round. But if your focus is spending time on the beach, the best months to visit are from July to November.
After that, March and April can be pretty nice too but just a little cooler. Although there can be some great beach days in May and June, typically these two months are very overcast and foggy on a daily basis.
In May and June, the sun usually doesn’t pop out until noon or 1:00 pm if at all. We locals call it “June gloom”.
And don’t rule out January and February as there can be some beautiful days to enjoy the beaches without the crowds. January and February tend to get the most rain but it still isn’t much compared to other states.
Other Things To Do In Malibu
Want to get in a little exercise with incredible ocean views? All of these hikes are easy to moderate and scenic being so close to the Pacific Ocean. And a few even have waterfalls which is a bonus!
The easiest way to figure out how to access these trails is to download the AllTrails app.
- Tuna Canyon (3.8 miles, moderate)
- Solstice Canyon (3.2 miles, moderate and has waterfall)
- Ocean Overlook Trail in Charmlee Wilderness Park (2.6 miles, easy)
- Zuma Ridge Trail (5.6 miles, moderate)
- Escondido Canyon Trail (3.7 miles, easy, and has a waterfall)
Tip: If you want to hike to the Hollywood Sign in LA, then read my post The Best Ways To View The Hollywood Sign!
If you are a wine lover and want to try some local wines that Malibu has to offer, there are many to try!
Most do not have tasting rooms but at Cornell Winery, you can taste wines from several local wineries in one spot! A few other options are listed below.
If you would rather do a combo of wine tasting with sightseeing, the Malibu Sightseeing & Wine Tasting Tour takes you around in a cool vintage VW bus!
- Cornell Winery & Tasting Room (29975 Mulholland Hwy, Agoura Hills, CA 91301)
- Rosenthal Estate Tasting Room (18741 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265)
- Cielo Winery (31424 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265)
Where To Eat In Malibu
Malibu Farm Restaurant (New American): Stunning ocean view with awesome farm-to-table food on the Malibu Pier.
- Address: 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Duke’s Malibu (Hawaiian/Seafood): Ocean view with excellent food and drinks.
- Address: 21150 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Café (Seafood): It might not be fancy but this shack has incredible fish and chips, clam chowder and more!
- Address: 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Geoffrey’s Malibu (Seafood): Delicious seafood with fantastic ocean views.
- Address: 27400 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Tramonto Bistro Malibu (Italian): Tasty Italian food with a Tuscan vibe and across the street from the beach.
- Address: 22235 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Nobu (Japanese): High-end restaurant on the beach known for its sushi but hard to get reservations to.
- Address: 22706 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Country Kitchen (American/Mexican): Great breakfast burritos to start your day or take down to the beach and enjoy.
- Address: 21239 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Paradise Cove Beach Club – I would come here for drinks and the view (on beach) and go elsewhere for food.
- Address: 28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Have a great time exploring the spectacular beaches of Malibu!
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