The 7 Best Beaches in Malibu, California 

by CaliCase Team on September 06, 2023

If you haven't visited Malibu's coastal charm, or if you're looking for some restful places to escape from your daily work, look no further. Malibu invites you to immerse yourself in beachside bliss, where the rhythm of the waves and the warmth of the sun create a tranquil sanctuary away from the city's hustle and bustle. And don't miss out on our best camping spots in Malibu, whether you're in a tent or an RV.

So, join us as we explore the top beaches that make Malibu a coastal gem like no other. Whether you're yearning for a sun-soaked paradise, a celebrity-studded escape, or a surfer's dream, Malibu has a beach just waiting for you.



Where Is Malibu?

Malibu Sea View

Nestled within Los Angeles County, California, Malibu is situated approximately 30 to 40 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Traveling to Malibu from downtown Los Angeles typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour by car, offering a journey that unveils breathtaking scenery along the renowned Pacific Coast Highway (California State Route 1).

If you wish to drive to Malibu from the LA airport, you can rent a car and head north on the 405 Freeway, then west on the 10, and finally, hop onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or Highway 1.

While each inch of coastline is more awe-inspiring than the next, we've listed the top 7 beaches below.


#1: Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach At Sunset

Just 10 miles north of Santa Monica, Zuma Beach seems like a world away. The 1.8 miles of beach frontage, just around the corner from Point Dume State Beach, is easily accessible to the hiking trails of the state park. This south-facing beach attracts many visitors on summer weekends but is relatively quiet during the week.

A popular spot for beach volleyball, nets are set up along the stretch of beach for casual games with friends, but be sure to bring your own ball. The shallow water and gently sloping sand make it a good place for swimming and body surfing. Zuma is known for occasional dangerous riptides and rough surf, but lifeguards are on duty in the summer months to monitor conditions.


Where to Park at Zuma Beach?

You have plenty of parking options available. The largest parking lot is situated at the southern end of the beach and offers around 2,000 spaces, while there are also smaller lots located along the beach, including at the northern end. It's advisable to arrive early during peak season, weekends, and holidays to secure a parking spot as they tend to fill up quickly. Parking fees are applicable, and prices may vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week. If you don't mind walking, there are also some free parking spots available along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), but they can be limited. So, make sure to plan accordingly.


Restaurants Near Zuma Beach

One must-try spot is the Malibu Farm Cafe, situed 10 miles from Zuma Beach, where you can enjoy fresh and organic food while taking in stunning ocean views. Another favorite is the Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar, much closer from the Zuma Beach, which serves up an extensive seafood menu with a side of beachside ambiance. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, Mastro's Ocean Club and Nobu Malibu are both highly-rated restaurants located along PCH with breathtaking ocean views. And for those who prefer to bring their own grub, there are plenty of picnic tables and grilling areas available on the beach.


Best Hotels at Zuma Beach

Some of the best options include the Malibu Country Inn, which is just a short drive from the beach, and for $260 offers cozy rooms and a breathtaking view. The Malibu Beach Inn is another (pricier though) option, situated right on the beachfront and offering luxurious 400sq.ft accommodations with fireplace, balcony and stunning ocean views for $800. Another hotel in the area is the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club, which features rustic-chic cabins and a private beach club.


Surfing at Zuma Beach

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, you'll find waves that suit your skill level. This beach is a favorite among surfers, and you'll see why as soon as you paddle out. Check out Surf Captain to get the latest surfing conditions at Zuma Beach.

The best time to hit the waves at Zuma Beach is during the fall, winter, and early spring when the waves are consistently larger. However, if you're new to surfing, the summer months are a great time to learn, as the waves are smaller and more manageable. But be warned, the surf can be treacherous at times, especially during winter when the waves can be massive and powerful.

To ensure everyone's safety, designated surfing areas at Zuma Beach are marked by yellow buoys. Stay within these areas and keep an eye on the changing surf conditions. If you're new to surfing, it's a good idea to take lessons from one of the surf schools or rental companies located nearby. Malibu Makos offers surf camps from June to August.

Zuma Beach can get crowded, so it's essential to be respectful of other surfers and beachgoers. Keep in mind that everyone wants to catch a wave, so share the stoke!


#2: Carbon Beach

Carbon Beach Malibu

Image Source:, Carlos Bastia

Nicknamed Billionaires Beach, Carbon Beach is lined with mansions that will take your breath away. While you don't have to pay to visit the beach and anyone can access it, the dream homes completely block out the beach, so it's not always easy to find an access point, but there are two entryways, a West Access and an East Access point that lead directly to the beach.


What Celebrities Have an House at Carbon Beach?

The identities of many of the residents are not publicly disclosed, but some well-known residents of Carbon Beach over the years have included Hollywood celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, David Geffen, and Larry Ellison, among others. It's important to respect the privacy of the residents and to avoid intruding on their properties or taking photos without their permission.

At high tide, the beach is mostly underwater so be sure to time your visit to avoid being pushed off the beach by the rising seawater. It's a good idea to keep your belongings in a waterproof dry bag, just in case.

To experience what it's like to live on Carbon Beach but can't quite afford the down payment for a mansion, the Malibu Beach Inn is right on the water and lets visitors live like billionaires during their stay.


Where to Park at Carbon Beach

Carbon Beach in Malibu, California does not have any public parking lots, so parking can be difficult, especially during peak hours or summer weekends. Visitors may have to park on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and walk to the beach. However, there are a few options for parking near Carbon Beach. One option is to park at the Malibu Lagoon State Beach parking lot, which is located just north of Carbon Beach. Another option is to park at the nearby Malibu Country Mart and walk to Carbon Beach. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid traffic congestion.


#3: Point Dume State Beach, Malibu

Point Dume State Beach

It's easy to forget that you're just a few miles from the busy L.A. metro area when you're on Point Dume because of the rugged scenic headlands, rocky coves, and offshore rock formations that can be seen while relaxing on the sandy beach at the foot of the high cliffs. On a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Catalina Island or the Channel Islands just across Santa Monica Bay.

Active beachgoers can explore the various hiking trails overlooking the ocean before taking a dip in the calm clear waters. Scuba divers can explore the underwater area known as the Pinnacles, one of the premier diving spots in the state. From December to March, visitors can often see gray whales during their annual migration right from the shore. But if you'd prefer to just relax in the sun, there's no better place to go than Point Dume.

And not only is it one of the largest beaches in Malibu, because it's split into Big Dume Beach and Little Dume Beach, you can usually find a space, even on the busiest weekends. On weekdays, the park is blissfully uncrowded, making for the perfect escape from the city.


Where to Park At Point Dume?

There are several parking areas available, the main parking lot is located at the bottom of the bluff, just a short walk from the beach. This lot can accommodate up to 100 vehicles and is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Additionally, there is a small parking area located at the top of the bluff, which provides access to the headland trails and scenic overlooks. This lot can accommodate up to 25 vehicles and is also open daily from sunrise to sunset.

During peak season, weekends, and holidays, parking at Point Dume State Beach can fill up quickly, so it's recommended to arrive early to secure a spot. There is a fee to park at the beach, and prices can vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week.

There are no designated parking areas for RVs or oversized vehicles. However, there are several nearby parking options available for larger vehicles, including the nearby Zuma Beach and Malibu Bluffs Park.


#4: Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Surfrider Beach's super long right-hand break is famous among surfers, but the water is often so full of them that they leave little space for swimmers.

At the northeast end of the beach is the Malibu Pier where fishermen hang out to enjoy the scenery while angling. After the beach, enjoy farm-to-table Californaesq dishes at the Malibu Farm Cafe.

Surfrider Beach is part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, but the State Beach parking lot is closer to the lagoon side than the ocean side. For surfers, it's better to use the lot near the Adamson House or you can always park on the side of PCH.


#5: Paradise Cove Beach

Paradise Cove Beach

Image Source: CNTraveler

A small and famous beach located north of Malibu off of the PCH, Paradise Cove is framed by bluffs that look out onto the open ocean. Many tv shows including "The OC," "Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210, and "The Rockford Files" were filmed here, as were movies like "American Pie 2" and "Beach Blanket Bingo."

The Paradise Cove Beach Cafe extends onto the beach, and all of its amenities including lounge chairs and private terraces are available to rent. Because the restaurant opens onto the sand, this is one of the only beaches in the state of California that allows beer and wine on the beach. (Hard liquor is not permitted.)

Parking: You can park in the restaurant's lot for up to four hours at a discounted rate if you eat at the Beach Cafe, but all-day parking requires paying the full parking fee. You can also park for free if you head a little further up the road near the PCH.


#6: Westward Beach

Westward Beach

At the southernmost section of Zuma Beach, extending to Point Dume, is Westward Beach, known for being one of the top surf spots in surf-crazy Malibu. While you're splashing in the ocean or lounging in the sand, you just might catch a glimpse (or two) of human-friendly and gentle bottlenose dolphins that swim close to the shore.

When hunger strikes, The Sunset restaurant is right at the beach entrance with a full menu of fresh items to enjoy. With a patio area that looks over Westward Beach and the Pacific Ocean, it's ideal for a cocktail at sunset.

Parking: Westward is technically a part of Zuma Beach, but because the Zuma parking lots are farther north, it's better to use the Point Dume lot.


#7: El Matador Beach

El Matador Beach

This hidden gem boasts breathtaking views, towering arches, and unique rock formations, making it a popular destination for photo enthusiasts and nature lovers.

During low tide, visitors can venture to the northern end of El Matador to explore caves that are only accessible when the water recedes. The sunsets here are nothing short of magical, offering Instagram-worthy views and perfect wallpaper-worthy moments. Don't forget your waterproof camera or waterproof phone case to capture the beauty!

Parking is convenient and accessible. Simply take the Highway 1 exit to reach the El Matador parking lot, from where you can descend a staircase directly to the beach.

If you would like to learn more about this unique place, visit our article on El Matador Beach: Exploring Malibu's Caves.


Notable Mention: Latigo Beach

Latigo Beach

Nestled along the stunning coastline of Malibu, California, Latigo Beach beckons surf enthusiasts of all stripes with its welcoming waves and jaw-dropping vistas. Here, you'll find a surf scene that caters to everyone, whether you're a beginner just getting your sea legs or an experienced rider chasing the perfect wave. Latigo Beach features a point break, which means that waves break along a point of rock or land, creating a consistent and rideable wave. This type of break is often favored by surfers because it can provide long, smooth rides. What sets this spot apart is its point break setup, delivering consistent, rideable waves that make for some epic rides. While it can get busy, it's generally less crowded than some of the more famous surf spots nearby. Beyond the waves, the natural beauty and scenic views provide a serene escape from the daily grind. And if you're new to surfing or need gear, you'll find surf schools and rental shops nearby, ensuring you have everything you need for an unforgettable day in the surf at Latigo Beach.