Okay, so it may be a bit of a stretch to call this Point Dume Malibu hike with kids a hike. It’s really more of a stroll with one incredible view along the way.
We actually had no idea about the trail when we showed up at Point Dume; we were just there to play on the beach. But you can’t miss the well-marked trailhead that starts at the far end of the parking lot and heads up into Point Dume State Nature Preserve.
The start of the trail heads straight up to the bluffs, but once you get there, things are pretty much level or even downhill. We walked through the mile or so of trails you’ll find here, including a walk out to the top of Point Dume (keep kids close here as there are no rails) and to the overlook platform.
This hike/stroll offers views of the entire Santa Monica Bay, the Malibu coast – even Catalina Island on a clear day. From the point, you might be lucky enough to spot sea lions, harbor seals and dolphins. This is also one of the best spots in Los Angeles to view migrating gray whales from shore. (The best time to do so is November through April.)
From the overlook platform, you can continue your walk along the beach all the way to Paradise Cove, or stay closer at hand exploring the tide pools via a stairway from the east side of the bluff (at least, during low tides).
Probably the best thing about Point Dume is the fact that this hike and its views are pleasant pretty much any time of the year. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and play at the beach after you’re done exploring.
- Distance: There are about a mile of trails to explore on the bluff taking you to both the viewing platform and the top of Point Dume; It’s 2 miles from the trailhead to Paradise Cove to the south
- Difficulty: Easy
- Best time of year to go: Year round; winter is great for whale watching, spring for wildflowers
- Trail condition: Dirt and sand trail, some plank boardwalk; not stroller-friendly
- Suggested time: This is more of a stroll than a walk, so how long you allow depends on what you want to do. A few ideas: check out the tide pools, do some whale watching (or look for seals and dolphins), play at the beach
- Recommended gear: Sunscreen, binoculars if you want to look for whales
- No park entrance fee
- Parking: Point Dume is a California State Park but is operated by Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors and does not accept the California State Park Annual Day Use Pass. There is a fee to park in the Westward Beach lot OR free parking is available on Westward Beach Road (take Cliffside Drive to Birdview Avenue and park free along Westward Beach Road), though this is extremely limited and fills up quickly on weekends
- FREE shuttles on weekends, holidays and during the summer months: Shuttles run every 20 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Westward Beach Road
- Restrooms: There are no public phones or restrooms at the Preserve; Restrooms can be found on Westward Beach Road
- No dogs allowed
- Park map: See a map here or visit the California State Parks Point Dume page for general info about the park
Getting to the Trailhead
From Santa Monica, take Pacific Coast Highway 18 miles to Westward Beach Road. Turn toward the ocean and go beyond the fee collection station to the very end of the road.
From the 101-Freeway, exit at Kanan Road. Continue south 12 miles to Pacific Coast Highway, and then turn right. Westward Beach Road is over the rise, at the foot of the hill.
At the end of Westward Beach Road, you can’t miss the sign for Point Dume State Preserve, with a gradual ascending trail leading up to the bluffs.
Point Dume State Nature Reserve is located at:
7103 Westward Beach Road
Malibu, CA 90265
If you’re in the area, there’s lots more to see and do in Malibu. Check out 10 Great Nature Destinations in Malibu for a few ideas.