This article was first published in print in Where Traveler LA, July 2022 edition (Page 14 – 16)
Malibu: Find your low-key coastal bliss
Relax and explore the dreamy coastline – where stars, surfers, sun seekers, beach babes, and nature lovers have flocked for a century to get away from it all
It’s easy to understand why Malibu is a top SoCal destination – with its outstanding ocean views, variety of beach and hiking options, fabulous dining possibilities, and upscale shopping experiences. Locals joke that Malibu is really two places – East and West, as the Pacific Coast Highway winds along the coast through “27 miles of scenic beauty”, sandwiched between sandy beaches and cliffside homes. To make the most of your journey through paradise, get to know Malibu by stopping along the way.
THE GETTY VILLA
At the gateway to Malibu sits the replica of a mansion you might have found in ancient Pompeii, built by the famous philanthropist and oil tycoon J. Paul Getty to house his personal collection of antiquities. The setting alone is worth a visit as this modern-day Mediterranean style villa sits on a hillside and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. This was the original home of the Getty Museum that opened in 1974. Walk among the gardens, fountains, and inner courtyards all within a gaze of the sparkling sea. Transport yourself to the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome by viewing mosaics, sculptures, and priceless artifacts. And now until August 8, 2022 for the first time in the US, view objects spanning 1,200 years in the exhibition Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World. Docents are available to answer your burning questions. Reservations are required.
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
MALIBU PIER and MALIBU FARM
Walk the iconic historic sport fishing pier to spot dolphins and soaring birds. Ogle surfers catching waves at world-famous Surfrider Beach, known for its three-point break that offers rides of 300 yards or more. Order up coffee, juices, mini Swedish pancakes, quinoa oatmeal, or a breakfast burrito at counter-service Malibu Farm Café at the end of the pier. Pick up local high-end goods and branded ‘Bu’ merchandise at Malibu Beach Supply Co. directly across the way. At the start of the pier, soak in the scenery over lunch or sunset dinner at rustic-chic Malibu Farm, where fresh local organic menu options include blue corn nachos, fish tacos, ceviche, salads, lobster rolls, cauliflower crust pizza, and spaghetti squash lasagna. On the sand below, walk the beach to Malibu lagoon and meander over to view the oldest surviving Malibu home, the Adamson House, built in 1929 and now a museum. Tours are available for a small donation.
23000 CA-1, Malibu, CA 90265
CARBON BEACH CLUB
Malibu’s best kept secret is dining above the crashing waves on Billionaire Beach in view of the Malibu Pier. This may be the most romantic location in Southern California. Sip rose´, devour a scrumptious brunch, or romance your partner over fresh local ingredients at the intimate Carbon Beach Club. Share the Iced Seafood Platter or begin with Calamari or Nicoise salad before diving into a Lobster Roll, Branzino, or the Bucatini Pomodoro. Admire birds swooping and soaring, dolphins jumping, or even a whale breaching during migration season. Stay for a dreamy pastel-hued sunset. Nestled on the ocean terrace, let your mind relax in the salty air and methodic waves and you’ll wonder if life could get any better. Indoor and outdoor seating options are available. Reservations are highly recommended.
22878 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
CURE WELLNESS CENTER
High above the Pacific Ocean sits a wellness sanctuary with a sprawling deck and magnificent ocean views where one can choose from a range of luxurious spa treatments – from deep-tissue massages and PRP facials to vitamin drip IV therapy and infrared saunas. Extend your pampering session with tea on the terrace or an order of Nobu sushi delivered lounge-side. Become a med-spa member to enjoy extra perks like a personal medical team that helps ensure peak wellness. Reservations are highly recommended.
22741 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
This iconic sushi venue is one of over 30 Nobu restaurants on 5 continents and has been the hands-down hottest restaurant in town since it moved beachfront 10 years ago. The Malibu location draws crowds from all over the world and the paparazzi sits outside daily to capture the perfect celeb shot of diners getting in and out of their snazzy rides. Dress well and impress your party with a sunset dinner steps from the beach. Don’t miss Chef Nobu Matsuhisa classics such as miso eggplant, miso-glazed black cod, rock shrimp tempura, and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno. And you can’t go wrong with fresh sashimi or sushi hand rolls. To gain the most bang for your buck, order the multicourse omakase tasting menu where you entrust the chef to roll out a variety of dishes. Book reservations exactly 30 days in advance to gain that perfect outdoor beach terrace seat or show up on a weekday to find limited seating at the bar or sushi counter. Guests of the ultra-exclusive 16-room Nobu Ryokan have special access to reservations at Nobu Malibu just a few steps down the beach.
22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
MALIBU COUNTRY MART and MALIBU VILLAGE
You’re almost guaranteed to spot a star at this large cluster of outdoor high-end shopping and dining centers known for their relaxed ranch-style vibe. Window shop or peruse numerous boutiques like L.A.’s Ron Herman, ba&sh’s effortless Parisian chic styles, Nomad Malibu’s laidback luxe clothes, and Gorjana’s bespoke engraved jewelry and gold accessories. Admire Ralph Lauren’s vintage outpost, the Double RL 1967-1993 store with timeless pieces for everyday wear, or pick up a handmade one-of-a-kind statement hat from modern milliner Teressa Foglia. When you’re ready to relax your feet, trendy Fred Segal offers outdoor seating and wine tasting with local Summer Somewhere Wines. For your caffeine fix, stop into the new Alfred Coffee location for their popular vanilla iced latte. Locals love SunLife Organics for smoothies and juices. Stay awhile and nosh on a Greek feast at Taverna Tony, indulge in Italian at Tra Di Noi ‘s patio, savor steak at Lucky’s Malibu, or devour a hot buttery lobster roll (with uni or caviar) at Broad Street Oyster Co. Pack a beach picnic with sandwiches, sides, and dreamy dessert bars from Malibu Kitchen’s gourmet market.
Sundays become car show madness as sexy rare vintage cars, hotshot vehicles, and even a replica Ghostbusters ‘Ecto-1’ wagon are parked for everyone’s delight while the arrival of Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld in envious wheels is a likely occurrence.
3835 Cross Creek Rd, Malibu, CA 90265
HOWDY’S SONRISA CAFÉ and THE PARK AT CROSSCREEK
Stop at this friendly outdoor café in The Park at Cross Creek for The World’s Best Lobster Burrito, concocted with sushi rice and twice as much lobster as most lobster rolls. The Sushi Burritos – stuffed with generous amounts of spicy tuna, yellow tail, and shrimp tempura – come with two delightful dipping sauces. Fresh Sushi/Sashimi Bowls are also uber-popular and perfect for taking to the beach. For those craving All Day Breakfast, bowls and burritos hit the spot. Enjoy drinks like watermelon, horchata, Jamaica, and lemonade ginger turmeric. Stay for the Mexican Pizza, chips, and guac made in-house, or churros and Key Lime Pie for dessert. Soon, Howdy’s will expand next door with a sushi bar. Check out nearby shops, like gems at Serenity Rocks, apparel at Barefoot Dreams, a Tesla showroom, and some sweet wellness offerings.
23401 Civic Center Way Suite 3A, Malibu, CA 90265
This stunning hourlong hike is a quarter mile off the Pacific Coast Highway but will leave you feeling a world away. Find peace in this tranquil park where the first mile is fairly flat and leads past a stone cottage and remnants of a “Tropical Terrace,” a former ranch home built in 1952 by renowned African-American architect Paul Revere Williams. Today the foundation beside a stream and small waterfall grotto is surrounded by flourishing palms and non-native plants. Ascend the Rising Sun Trail to the top of the mountain to loop back down to the parking lot. From above, the reward is mesmerizing views of the surrounding canyons often with wildflowers, stacked boulders, and the ocean in the distance. Visit mid-week for easy parking in the lot.
3455 Solstice Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265
EL PESCADOR STATE BEACH
It’s impossible not to gawk at the bird’s eye views as you spiral down a trail from the parking lot to this secluded beach, hugged by cliffs and tide pools at both ends. Leave your phone behind for a good book or watch a sprinkling of surfers bobbing in and out of the waves. Bring a picnic lunch to spend an afternoon soaking up the rays and admiring the natural beauty – as pelicans, gulls, sandpipers, and cormorants abound. While many flock to nearby El Matador Beach with its stunning grand rock formations sprouting from the sea, find reprieve here with less crowds. You’ll soon realize these rugged beaches are the closest thing you’ll find to the French Riviera outside of Europe.
32900 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
POINT DUME NATURE PRESERVE
All the way at the far East end of Zuma Beach you’ll find the Westward Beach parking lot and the backdoor to the Point Dume Nature Preserve. Scale up the path with spectacular cliffs and ocean oh-la-la views. Often rock climbers are dangling from the beachside bluff and dolphins, whales, sea lions and birds can frequently be seen blissfully cruising by this special cove. In the spring, the entire preserve explodes with Giant Coreopsis, a yellow wildflower that looks like a short stubby mini Joshua tree. Be rewarded with expansive ocean views above the 1.25-mile cliffside trail and walk down to Big Dume beach, a hidden cove popular with local surfers (and often a few movie stars).
7103 Westward Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265