By Karen Espig

I don’t know about you, but it is starting to get cold where I live, and I’ve begun dreaming of warm and sunny beaches. One place I’ve looked at is Malibu, California, where there are 21 miles of beautiful coastline to explore.

Long reigning as the peaceful getaway for celebrities escaping the hustle of Los Angeles (37 miles away), there is much more in the offing from this West Coast USA vacation spot than just being a retreat for the stars. Let’s take a look.

Life’s A Beach…

Before we reveal just how much more Malibu has to offer than beaches, let’s talk about those glorious stretches of sun-soaked sands. Well, some of them, because there are 33 in total!

First up is the mile-long Surfrider Beach, which, you guessed it, is the hot spot for ultimate swells. Located near Malibu Lagoon, it offers standard amenities, including lifeguards during daylight hours. It’s worth noting that while it serves up the best surfing in the locality, the swimming areas are smaller than some other beaches.

One highlight of the extensive Malibu coastline is definitely Point Dume State Beach, which offers a dream-like beach, hiking trails, and a nature preserve. If you visit between December and April, you might just catch a glimpse of some California Gray Whales during their migratory period. On a clear day, the lookout offers views of Catalina island.

The third stretch of sand I’ll mention is Zuma Beach, notable because of its size and amenities. It boasts 1.8 miles of beach and 105 acres of property. It has everything you need for a day of sun and fun: numerous parking spots, beach wheelchairs, restrooms, showers, restaurants, and volleyball nets.

Make A Splash

If you are looking for more than just lounging in the California sun, Malibu Coastal Adventures has a menu of water activities available. Choose from whale-watching trips, fishing, paddle-boarding, and surfing to make the most of your day oceanside. 

Want to really dive into the Pacific Ocean? Malibu Divers has you covered for diving lessons, and you can even begin the process before your trip!

Don’t For-Getty History!

For ancient civilisation buffs, there is the Getty Villa Museum. It opened as a museum in 1974, then again in 2006 after a major renovation project was completed. The museum is dedicated to the art and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. 

The Villa’s collection includes approximately 44,000 antiquities from these civilisations, with around 1,200 on view at any time. There is no entrance fee, but booking is required.

Adamson House Is A Must

Another interesting spot to check out is the National and State Historical Site and California State Park of Adamson House. The Rindge family owned much of Malibu in the late 1800s and into the 1900s. Their Spanish Colonial Revival style house has been fully restored, looking similar to how it was in 1929. 

The family manufactured Spanish tiles at their Malibu Potteries plant, and the home is decorated with these beautiful mini works of art. Hand-carved doors, original frescoes, unique ironwork and bottle-glass windows are also on display, making it a must-visit for art and architecture lovers and those who appreciate a bygone era. 

Here you will also learn about the Chumash Tribe, the region’s original residents and can take some time to stroll the gorgeous landscaped grounds and the adjoining Malibu Lagoon Museum.

Enjoy A Glass In Wine Country

Malibu Wine Hikes offers some unique experiences through Saddlerock Ranch vineyard, letting you choose from classic hikes, 4 x 4 tours, or a VW Bus excursion. You’ll witness fantastic scenery, local flora and fauna, and indigenous cave paintings by the Chumash. 

Your tour naturally comes with wine tastings and snacks, making for a fun and relaxing few hours.

Head For The Mountains

Be sure to spend some time inland on your trip, taking in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park. There are more than 500 miles of trails of varying difficulty, including coastline walks. Solstice Canyon offers a variety of hiking and biking trails and is dog-friendly (must be on a leash). You can also enjoy a picnic after your hike to the lovely Solstice Canyon Waterfall.

So while Malibu is the dreamy beach vibe you’d expect, it’s also got plenty of natural wonders and fascinating history. Family-friendly activities and romantic and exclusive resorts await. And don’t forget the LA angle. Many movies were filmed in Malibu, notably the 2021 horror movie Paradise Cove

And if you are more into books than movies, pick up The White Album by the counterculture writer Joan Didion. Joan and her family moved to Malibu in the 70s, and she has written many essays on life in California, including one called Malibu. To get a proper local feel for the place, I encourage you to read her books, perhaps while enjoying a Malibu beach day!