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California dreamin’: A Malibu beach guide

To those of us native to less temperate climes, Malibu Beach offers the ultimate Californian getaway: a sun-drenched, all-American beachfront paradise. Fringed by 21 miles of sprawling coastline, with much of its land protected by law from further development, Malibu is a town characterised by its affection for its ocean and natural environment. Removed from the city sprawl of Los Angeles, but still in close enough proximity to render it a hub of film industry activity, the area is home to a host of Hollywood high-fliers who have swapped frenetic city life for oceanfront serenity. Take a look at our Malibu Beach guide, and start planning your ultimate Californian retreat.

Where to stay

The Viceroy, Santa Monica: Set one street back from the beach,The Viceroy is a stylish, exclusive boutique stay famed for its bold monochrome interiors. Rooms are spacious and luxurious with en-suite marble bathrooms and ocean views, while outside in the communal areas, guests dine al fresco under palm trees or relax poolside in the shade of a curtained cabana.


Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel: This recently refurbished beachfront hotel welcomes children of all ages (as well as dogs), yet still manages to retain an air of relaxation and luxury. Perfect for guests with families, the amenities at Loews Santa Monica are second to none – the hotel houses a gym, pool, Jacuzzi, an excellent onsite restaurant, and three bars.


Villa Graziadio at Pepperdine University: Billed as an executive conference centre – but with plenty more charm than this moniker implies – the Villa Graziado is situated on the picturesque campus of Malibu’s Pepperdine University. Offering fifty comfortable rooms with stunning hilltop views of the Pacific, guests here will find themselves in envy of the students who call this beautiful campus home. With deer grazing in the grounds and students catching some sand time during study breaks, this is one of the more unusual accommodation options in our Malibu Beach guide.

What to eat

Cafecito Organico: This fair trade coffee shop is a handy spot for an eco-conscious caffeine hit and fresh pastries from downtown LA bakery, Rustico. An adjacent bookshop is a welcome distraction and plenty of outdoor seating provides a great vantage point for people watching.


Malibu Yogurt and Ice Cream: Famed for its array of unusual flavours and toppings (think: cake batter, bubblegum and rainbow sherbet), this ever-popular fro-yo favourite is an essential stop for those craving a sugar fix. You can also pick up a smoothie, ice cream, homemade cookie, or a mini yogurt pie.


The Hungry Cat: This much-loved Santa Monica eatery is known for its locally sourced produce. Open for brunch (crab cake Benedict, anyone?) and dinner, and with a raw bar serving up fresh oysters on the half shell, this is the place to come to sample the best seafood in Malibu Beach.


Taverna Tony: Located at the base of Malibu Canyon, this traditional Greek restaurant serves hearty portions of authentic fare in a typically welcoming setting. Presided over by Tony himself, this place has a lively atmosphere and a great local reputation.


Dukes This waterfront Hawaiian-themed bar and restaurant is famous for its seafood, tacos and wide selection of beers on tap. Arrive in time for Aloha Hour and take advantage of unlimited $5 Mai Thais, which can be enjoyed on the open-air terrace while seals and dolphins play in the evening surf.


Moonshadows: Open late on Fridays and Saturdays, Moonshadows offers casual dining and cocktails before live DJs take to the decks. Sit out on the terrace with a glass of something suitably refreshing and soak up the laid-back Malibu vibes.

Things to do

Malibu Country Mart: A prime shopping and dining destination, Malibu Country Mart definitely deserves a place in our Malibu Beach guide. Stores here are mainly high-end boutiques and designer outlets, but the choice of restaurants caters to every taste and budget. A park and playground at its centre provides a shady picnic spot for families and K Chocolatier is an obligatory stop for those with a sweet tooth.


Hiking in Malibu Canyon: In health and image conscious LA, exercise is part of the lifestyle. Hiking enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice with Malibu Canyon’s many trails, most of which are dog friendly and offer spectacular views from start to finish.


Surf School – Malibu Makos Surf Club: Malibu is a surfing town and the perfect place to throw caution to the wind and hit the waves. Malibu Makos Surf Club ffers lessons for all abilities – run by a band of surfing and water-sports professionals, even total beginners can be sure of an exhilarating surfing experience.

Dume Point Beach: With its sprawling, untouched beach and dramatic coastal scenery, Dume Point is a film location favourite, famous for its breathtaking views and abundance of wildlife. From December to March the hiking trail along its protected coastline affords unparalleled aerial views of migrating grey whales, and seals frolic off these shores year-round. The cliffs also offer some great rock climbing opportunities.


Visit Getty Villa: Built in the ‘70s but modelled after a palatial Roman home, the Getty Villa is an art museum with a difference. Set amongst four beautiful Mediterranean-style gardens and an array of water features, the villa is one of two of its kind funded by oil tycoon Paul Getty, and home to a vast collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.


Written by Alexandra Sharp

Image credits:

Santa Monica sunset © iStock

The view towards Malibu © Discover LA

Surfers at sunset © iStock

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