This past week my sister and I decided to embark on a road trip from San Diego to Northern California. 

Our first destination was Malibu. We both set out to explore the best beaches in Malibu. 

We spent several days exploring these waters to find out what makes them so special and why is it worth seeing.

Well, before we get to the top little known tips, let’s first dive into the explain a bit about the overview of the beaches.

How many Malibu Beaches are there?

Malibu has a coastline of approximately 27 miles. It is home to more than 15 beaches.

Although, there are many beaches you can visit here in Malibu, beware of some when you plan on visiting.

Why each beach in Malibu isn’t the same

There is still many confrontations between homeowners who own homes nearby these waters and the public. 

Just Google online and you will find many stories about this. Security guards being hired to even police officers fining beachgoers who try to access these beaches.

I see both sides of the ongoing battle here. Homeowners not wanting beachgoers setting foot near their properties which overlook these Malibu beaches.

While beachgoers just want to explore these pretty waters which happen to be near these homes.

The California Coastal Commission is an organization in charge of California’s beaches. On their homepage they are: 

committed to protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations. 

They do this by:


careful planning and regulation of environmentally-sustainable development, rigorous use of science, strong public participation, education, and effective intergovernmental coordination.

Technically, according to the California Coastal Act of 1976 about 840 miles of California shorelines are open for public access.

What is designated as public access is anything from the mean high tide line.

Meaning any wet sand that has been touched from the high tide is fair public game and open to anyone. 

If you want to find out more, check out the California Coastal Commission website. Where you will find all this information.

Here is where it becomes tricky! Some places can’t be accessed due to fences built amongst homeowners within here.

If you plan to visit some Malibu beaches here are the ones we recommend avoiding:

  • Escondido Beach
  • El Sol County Beach

These have been known to have bad reputations with incidents amongst homeowners and beachgoers.

You can still visit these places we are just giving you our take on why we avoided visiting them. You may be wondering,

“Well, that’s great! How am I supposed to know if there are other beaches I need to watch out for as well?

Here is our solution. While, it’s not perfect it’s the best out there so far.

Download the free YourCoast App. It’s an app developed by Sean Parker who ironically built this as a form of settlement with the California Coastal Commission.

He had acquired several violations from the California Coastal Commission for having a wedding on Big Sur beach that illegally blocked public access.

You can find more about this story online. Anyways, what makes YourCoast App our go to app is that it shows majority of the California’s beaches.

You can see which beaches are: public, dog friendly, have restrooms, and parking information.

Our Pick of Best Beaches in Malibu and Why!

After spending a few days in Malibu exploring several beaches. We put together our 5 top beaches and why.

zuma-beach

Zuma County Beach

We won’t get much into explaining all of Zuma County Beach but you are more than welcome to find out more, here.

PLENTY OF PARKING

You can choose to park inside the designated parking lots of this beach.

There is a vehicle parking fee of $8 that we saw when we went. But, it varies during season so be prepared to expect some for of fee if you choose to park in the parking lots.

If you don’t want to park for parking there’s free parking on the California 1 freeway.

We did this because we didn’t want to pay and it was right up the beach.

SMALL FOOD COURT

There is a Zuma Beach Cafe that serves: hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, Grilled Chicken Wrap and other snacks.

It was closed, however, when we went. So, it seems it’s not open all the time.

VOLLEYBALL NETS

Wondering what outdoor activities to do here? Why, not volleyball?

There are built in nets here so you can enjoy playing with your friends or family, but bring a volleyball.

WHY WE LOVE IT

Zuma Beach County has plenty to offer. It’s a family friendly beach. That is mostly clean and tranquil.

You have many free parking options along with a cafe option.

surfrider-malibu-beach
Photo by Parker Amstutz

Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach is often interchanged with Malibu Surfrider Beach. Both are found on the Pacific Coast.

Surfrider sits on the  Expect to pay $12 of parking your vehicle here. There is free parking off the California 1 Freeway, but it’s very limited. 

WILDLIFE

You will spot many different species of birds here. The Malibu Lagoon is home to many of them here.

TRAIL

There is a trail located in Malibu Lagoon State Beach that wraps around from the Malibu Pier to the Malibu Lagoon entrance. 

You can enjoy about 2 miles of scenic view. Including flowers as you make your way around the trail.

LANDMARK

The Adamson Home is considered a California Historical Landmark.

It’s a home filled with many uniquely crafted tiles from the tile manufacture called Malibu Potteries. 

Unfortunately, this company doesn’t exist anymore. But, you can see many of their famous geometric tile designs here.

Their is an entrance fee of $25 per adult to visit this place. For updated price make sure to check out their homepage.

WHY WE LOVE IT!

Both Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Malibu Surfrider Beach offer a variety outdoor activities.

Surfrider Beach is a top spot for surfers, and has limited options for swimming. 

And there’s lifeguards present as well. You can catch good waves here for those fanatics.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach offers you the opportunity to see wildlife, get some fresh air along the coastlines with your family or by yourself. 

All while also having the chance to see some some California Historic Landmarks such as the: Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum.

Best Beaches in Malibu Pin

Topanga State Beach

This beach is not considered a popular destination as the other Malibu Beaches such as Zuma County. But, it’s still worth seeing.

No dogs are permitted on this beach. You will find signs here that state that.You can park for free along the California 1 freeway.

ROCKS

There are many rocks here found along the coastlines. 

Make sure to wear beach shoes if you plan on getting in or walking near here.

STAIRWAYS

You must use one of the two stairways to get down to this beach.

Nearby one of the stairways are: bathrooms, and showers.There are also lifeguards present.

There are also lifeguards present. We noticed they only where doing the daytime.

PICNIC TABLES

There are a few picnic tables here. Which sit under the trees. We had packed earlier sandwiches and it was perfect to eat and watch the waves.

WHY OUR CHOICE!

For its amenities. We loved having the option to have nearby restrooms, and picnic areas.

There is also a restaurant called Mastro’s Ocean Club which overlooks this beach. 

We didn’t eat here, but the prices on their menu where at least 2 to 3 dollar signs.

Approximately less than 5 miles from Topanga Beach you can explore Topanga State Park.

There is a $10 entrance fee, but it was well worth it. There are numerous trails to be found here.

Perfect for the family or hiking enthusiasts.  You can see the beautiful views of the ocean as well.

Los Liones Trails had a spectacular view from here. 


leo-carillo-state-park
Photo by Cam Adams 

Leo Carrillo State Park

This is your go to beach for families or nature lovers. From nature to camping you can’t go wrong in visiting. 

There is a $12 entrance fee for all day parking. Be sure to check the site for updated pricing. Plus, you can even bring your dog along as well!

TIDE POOLS

There are many tide pools scattered amongst the shorelines here. Within the tide pools we saw fish, crabs, and even clams.

You definitely come across all kinds of wildlife here. 

CLIFFS AND SEA CAVES

Just like El Matador State Beach (another beach found in Malibu) you can expect to see massive formations of rocks here.

 Don’t forget to bring your camera to take some epic shots of these beautifully nature crafted caves.

 

CAMPGROUND SPOTS

Just like El Matador State Beach (another beach found in Malibu) you can expect to see massive formations of rocks here.

Besides exploring and enjoying the beautiful day of at this place feel free to stay for the night! 

They have camping spots that cost $45 a night. You can find out more about the different prices on their site.

We didn’t get a chance to camp here for the night, as of yet. 

WHY WE LOVE IT!

What more can we ask for. The spectacular marine wildlife, the uniquely crafted sea caves and cliffs, and let’s not mention the chance to camp here as well.

Definitely, a perfect beach vacation destination for sure!

We hope that these little known tips can help you be most prepared when visiting what we consider these best beaches in Malibu.

Let us know in the comments down below what are some of your favorite Malibu beaches you recommend seeing.