10 Great Nature Destinations in Malibu

Leo Carrillo SB

I’m not going to lie to you: Living less than 30 minutes from Malibu is definitely a perk of life in L.A. – especially if you even remotely enjoy spending time outside.

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At just 27 miles long and 8 miles wide, Malibu is packed with something for everyone – including beaches, hiking, surfing, swimming, camping and more.

There’s certainly no bad time to visit Malibu, but we find ourselves there much more often in the winter and spring months, when summer crowds have forgotten all about it. Here are a few of our favorite places to explore in Malibu.

While Surfrider and Zuma rank highest in popularity, we prefer these family-friendly spots.

El Matador State Beach
Visit during the winter and El Matador State Beach is a quiet spot great for bird watching, sand play and cave exploring. Just be sure to check the tides before you go – arrive during hide tide and the beach will be inaccessible.

Leo Carrillo State Beach
Leo Carrillo State Beach has 1.5 miles of beach with tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. In addition to tide pooling, we’ve also camped here. Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach
This is a wildlife hot spot. We’ve been bird watching on several occasions, but there’s plenty more to see and do. Guided tours of the wetlands and other natural elements such as grunion, the monarch butterfly, tide pools and the gray whale are scheduled seasonally.

Malibu Lagoon SB

Paradise Cove
The Paradise Cove beach is pristine, the tide pool discoveries plentiful and the views beyond magnificent – especially on a clear, sunny day. The downside? Parking is a whopping $25. To avoid the hefty fee, spend at least $20 at the Café and you pay only $3 for 4 hours on the beach.

Point Dume State Beach
Point Dume features cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. It’s also a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the winter migration. Views from the top of the cliff are said to be unbeatable.

Even the community parks in Malibu are amazing. Thankfully, anyone can enjoy them!

Malibu Bluffs Park
The 6-acre Malibu Bluffs Park is what I wish every park could be – a combination of traditional playground features and plenty of amazing natural elements. Like hiking trails, a whale watch lookout station, wide-open grassy spaces and more.

Legacy Park
Across the highway from Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Legacy Park features four important native coastal habitats. Put your bird watching skills to the test, take a short “hike” around the park and play on the mosaic sculptures in the children’s area.

Legacy Park

Don’t let all the beautiful beaches deter you from checking out the trails, too. Here are a few on our to-do list.

Arroyo Sequit
Arroyo Sequit features a stream, loop trail, rocks and meadows that are blanketed with wildflowers come spring. It’s also a great spot for stargazing.

Circle X Ranch
Rumored to have some of the best hiking in the area, Circle X Ranch is tucked in the canyons above Malibu. Stroll the trails, spot native California plants or enjoy a creekside picnic.

Point Magu State Park
Point Mugu State Park features five miles of ocean shoreline with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, two major river canyons and wide, grassy valleys dotted with sycamores, oaks and more. Oh yeah, and there are more than 70 miles of hiking trails, too.

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  1. Pediatrician San Diego says

    I hope that one day I'd be walking and exploring these places. They look really nice and it would be great to visit different kind of places and just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.