Things to Do in Malibu

Things to Do in Malibu

Jave and I celebrated seven long blissful years of marriage this past Saturday. While I’m currently suffering from an insatiable case of itchy feet and would’ve loved to hop on a plane to just about anywhere to celebrate, we decided to take a conservative approach and explore locally. Considering all of the travel plans that we have coming up this fall and winter, we’ll be focusing our explorations on backyard travel until then. But man, it’s hard not to hightail it to some exotic locale!

Fortunately, living in Southern California, we have a few daytrip options that leave us feeling as if we’ve escaped to a whole other world when, in reality, we only ventured about 30 miles from home. This is exactly how we felt when we recently returned home from our daytime exploits in Malibu.

While we’re no strangers to Malibu, we usually stick to a few key places whenever we visit: Paradise Cove, Zuma Beach, and Geoffrey’s Malibu for some amazing seafood with even more amazing views. But this time, we explored beyond our usual haunts, so I thought it’d be helpful to put together a post highlighting a few things to do in Malibu for the next time you desperately need to escape from L.A. proper.


Malibu Pier


I had no idea that the Malibu Pier is a part of the California State Parks. Located next to Surfrider Beach which boasts a three-point break, Malibu Pier could best be described as minimal in comparison to other piers in other Southern California beach cities. You won’t find any rides here like at the Santa Monica Pier, and although we did stop at Malibu Farm at the end of the pier to pick up our $18 jars of fresh pressed juices, dining options are limited.


But you know what? The minimalist approach to pier activities is befitting of a city like Malibu where many Hollywood celebrities call home and where many of we everyday Angelenos escape to when the city bustle gets to be too much. So you’ll find a few restaurants on the pier, a beach equipment rental company, and scattered fishermen hoping for a catch, but not much else. It’s worth noting that plans for a surf museum on the pier are underway.

Surf & SUP


The beauty of Malibu is that the city is flanked by the Pacific, so there’s plenty of beach to go around to surf and stand up paddle (SUP). A quick Google search will also reveal several companies that offer surf and SUP lessons in the area.

Walk the Beach


The waters off of California’s coast tend to be icy cold year round, so if you’re anything like me and don’t want to freeze, simply walk the beach instead of submerging. A walk along Malibu’s beaches is also a good way to survey the real estate. While Venice Beach and certain other beaches in L.A.’s South Bay feature beachside homes, in my opinion, they’re not as chic as the beachside homes in Malibu. Also, the beach homes in Malibu are constructed right on the beach as opposed to being separated from the water by bike paths and the like as you’ll find at other SoCal beaches. There’s no question that Malibu boasts some of California’s most prime (read: extremely expensive) real estate.

El Matador State Beach

As I mentioned before, prior to our recent Malibu jaunt, Paradise Cove and Zuma Beach were my beaches of choice in L.A. However, over the years, Paradise Cove has evolved from being someplace special into a tourist trap as they now charge exorbitant parking fees and the food at the adjoining restaurant is mediocre at best. And while I still love me some Zuma Beach even with its choppy waters, I just fell in love with a new L.A. beach – El Matador State Beach. It was literally love at first sight as I gasped when I first laid eyes on this view as we approached the hill and stairs leading down to the sand…


With huge mussel-clad rock formations rising from the sand, picturesque cliffs, and clean water (at least for L.A. standards), El Matador has that special “it” factor that beach bums like me love. I’ve heard that the sunsets here are spectacular, but considering that we had dinner plans, we didn’t get to witness one for ourselves. All the more reason to go back if you ask me. Jave, on the other hand, who’s also known as the “West Indian Beach Snob”, thinks that all beaches pale in comparison to those in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. I have to constantly remind him that this is L.A., and in L.A., El Matador is the best beach I’ve come across…period!


TIPS: The entrance fee is $8 for cars parking onsite. The fee is less for people who visit car-free. Also, there’s a steep hill and stairs leading down to the sand, so wear appropriate shoes.

Bird Watch at the Malibu Lagoon


Where the mouth of Malibu Creek and the Pacific meet, you’ll find Malibu Lagoon State Beach which is used by migratory birds as a stopover during the Pacific Flyway. I’m not a birder, but I believe we spotted several pelicans in action at the lagoon. However, over 200 species of birds can be spotted here at various times throughout the year.

Adamson House


This historic Mediterranean-style Malibu home is located within the Malibu Lagoon State Beach. The Adamson House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated California Historical Landmark. The home was built in 1930 for Rhoda Rindge Adamson (and her husband), the daughter of a wealthy Bostonian businessman who owned the Rindge Ranch which included Rancho Topanga and some surrounding areas. In all, the ranch included present day Malibu and parts of the Santa Monica Mountains. That’s some ranch – huh?

During our visit, the Visitor’s Center was closed, so we didn’t get to explore inside of the home which costs $7/person. But there’s no cost to roam the grounds surrounding the home, and there are several placards offering some historical tidbits about the home and the surrounding area which originally was part of a village called Humaliwo meaning, “the surf sounds loudly”; the village belonged to the Chumash Indians.

The next time we’re in Malibu, I’d definitely like to explore the inside of the house which is nicknamed the “Taj Mahal of Tile” because of all of the decorative ceramic tiles found throughout the home.



Have you been to “The Bu”? What are your favorite things to do in Malibu?

  • I like the western side of Malibu, past Trancas Canyon, where it seems to get much less crowded. I’ve never been to El Matador, and I think I need to make a point of visiting the next time I’m in Malibu. I love Paradise Cove, too. Since we’ve already paid to fly out there, the parking fees and pricey food seem small in comparison. I completely forgot about the lagoon and house there until you mentioned them. It’s probably been more than a decade since I’ve been to those. I remember being on Malibu Pier and watching a guy with a ice chest strapped to his SUP. Funny.

    • Dana Carmel

      Oh yes, definitely visit El Matador. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s so relaxed, quiet, and serene. And that’s too funny about the ice chest on the SUP – now I’ve heard it all! 😉

  • Stand up paddle – sounds fun and interesting!

    As for the ‘West Indian beach snob’ …. coming from the tropics too, i guess an ideal beach is white sand, palm fringed with warm azure waters anything short of that is inferior 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      You and Jave are spoiled beach brats! 🙂

  • Beatiful place!!!

    • Dana Carmel

      It sure is!

  • A very happy anniversary to you both!!! 7 years of bliss–love it! And even though Malibu is in your backyard, remember that it’s a place people would fly from all over the world to visit, so it actually IS pretty exotic in its own right!;-)

    (that’s what I tell myself about NYC whenever I’m getting itchy feet!;-)

    • Dana Carmel

      You’re right, Jess! It’s all about learning to see our cities as tourists do. Thanks for the anniversary wishes! 😉

  • There used to be this short lived series called “Mackenzies of Paradise Cove”. I always thought of that silly show every Sunday when our motorcycle group would ride in Malibu. I used to love doing that..all along the coast..beautiful curves to Calabasas and Camarillo before taking the 101 back to Hollywood. This brings back great memories :-). I laughed at Jave being a beach snob, can’t blame him. Happy Anniversary by the way. Hope you have many more blissful years.

    • Dana Carmel

      You were in a motorcycle club?! You just keep getting more and more interesting the more I learn about you. That’s awesome! Jave LOVES motorcycles. I’m not really into them although it would be nice to take a long ride along the coast. We only ever ride motorcycles back in Jamaica, and by ride I mean that Jave drives while I hold on for dear life. Because you know they don’t believe in helmets there! Anyway, thanks for the anniversary wishes. 🙂

      • Yep! I was..we were an anti Harley! My 30th birthday gift to myself was riding classes. I rode with this guy who started a meetup group of riders, anything but Harley’s cos they were such snobs who rode together :-). It was so much fun. I had 3 bikes at one point..a 450cc, 500cc and a 1400 Intruder :-). Rode for like 10 years, and we always saw Leno, Arnold etc.. One day, while riding, l just felt fear. It was so weird..l still remember the exact moment. I sold the bikes shortly after, but l never rode after that day. I can picture you hanging on for dear life..hah hah!

  • I’ve never been to Malibu! But the El Matador beach sounds right up my alley. I prefer the quieter beaches over boardwalks and hordes of people, although sometimes I get the itch for that experience! Depending on family plans (as in, will there be a baby gypsy on the way ;), I’ll be in San Fran in September and would love to drive down to the LA area for some city and beach time like this.

    • Dana Carmel

      I love quieter beaches too, Katrina! You guys should definitely come down to check out El Matador – my pictures really don’t do it justice!


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