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Plan Your Visit to Malibu, CA (in pictures)

I love Malibu - This is a beach city in the Santa Monica mountains area of LA county.

See Malibu on the map
Map of Malibu, CA

If you have a day free, here is how you could plan a family day out:

  • Reserve table for brunch at 10:30 AM at Ollo

  • Morning at Zuma beach

  • Late lunch by Malibu Farm Pier watching surfer folks, drive around Pepperdine University and Malibu Lagoon, ice-cream for the kiddo at Le cafe de la plage Malibu

  • Sundowner at 5 PM at Geoffrey's Malibu (now we are adulting!)

  • Sunset at El Matador State Beach

Hanging out at Zuma Beach, Malibu, CA
Hanging out at Zuma Beach, Malibu, CA

Malibu is known for its beaches so the focus of your trip really should be spending time at the beach. Let's go over beach basics first.

Celebrity homes, Malibu CA
View from the Malibu Pier

When to Swim / Surf:

  • To plan your day, it is important to check for high and low tides.

Tide Chart by Ryan B. is a great free resource to explore.

You can also check this NOAA site.

  • For a walk on the beach, choose a Low Tide time

  • Remember to carry beach umbrellas, beach toys, towels, sunscreen, water, etc.

  • To check out tidal pools for marine life, plan to visit 2 hours before low tide or an hour after (according to

  • Swimming in the ocean is best during the day

  • It is safest to swim during a slack tide, which is one hour preceding or after a low or high tide. Waves with shorter intervals are calmer. Ensure life guards are on duty

  • If you want to surf, waves are great in between low and high tides - you are looking for waves with longer intervals between them (according to

Which beach should I go to?

Let's start here. Parts of the Malibu coastline are blocked by private homes. The law is that any part of the beach below the median high tide line is public property. I would recommend you spend at least half a day at the beach and come back to it for sunset. Here are the beaches in the area that you can consider.

  1. Zuma Beach: If you are looking for a simple, quiet beach experience with family, Zuma Beach is the way to go. Parking is easy to find at the lot near the beach and there is also free parking on the road.

  2. El Matador State Beach: The parking lot is tiny and the walk to the beach is steep but this beach is spectacular for 'Instagrammer' sunsets and has unique rock formations

  3. Point Dume State Beach & Paradise Cove: Access to the beach requires descending a long stairway to the beach and a walk east from there will take you to the beautiful Paradise Cove. A good time to visit would be during low-tide! This is also a popular surfer spot. While the views are great and you may spot a whale or two (February through April), know that the stairway is closed occasionally. You can directly access Paradise Cove by visiting the Paradise Cove Cafe with paid parking

  4. Leo Carrillo State Beach: This beach is family and dog-friendly. Parking is also easier. Between this beach and North Beach, there is a rocky area called Sequit Point with tide pools and caves which kids will enjoy during low tide..marine life and all!

  5. Malibu Lagoon State Beach & Adamson House: There is a little bit of everything here. Parking is easier. If you want to see birds, this is where you go. If you are a history buff, check out the Adamson family house and its gardens and the Malibu Lagoon Museum. (It may be closed so you should check before your visit). There are sm