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Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 | 3 comments

El Matador Beach: Big Boulders and Sea Arches

Everybody has his/her own definition of the perfect beach.

I prefer lots of palm trees, from where hammocks can be hanged, warm water and soft sand.  In California, a beach culture of surfing, pier walks, bike riding on designed paths and frigid waters rule.  Others dream of white sands, turquoise waters and clear skies.

It doesn’t matter what your preferences are.  The good news are that your perfect beach exists somewhere in the world (not sure if this sentence is a positive or negative).

Luckily for me, I think I have found my perfect beach not so far from home.  As a slap in the face, on that beach, there are no palms in sight or bathtub temperature waters.

This beach has certain features I am beginning to enjoy more and more: cliffs, rock promontories and sea arches.  I am kind of obsessed with wild and rugged pieces of coast.  Maybe I have been looking too long at pictures of the Oregon Coast.

That is why I felt so energized after having the opportunity to finally visit El Matador State Beach.  This “pocket beach,” part of the Robert H. Memorial State Beach, has been voted many times the most beautiful strand of sand in the Los Angeles area.

El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

Located at the west end of the city of Malibu, it can be considered a “cove that emerges during low tide.”  This part of the coast is characterized by 150 feet tall cliffs. When the water recedes at certain times during the day, a small pouch peppered with huge boulders is revealed.

Going down to El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

The view from the top of the cliff is incredible.  In one direction, it is possible to admire the deep blue waters filled with kelp forests (look for dark spots).  In the other direction, mansions line a long strand of sand till Point Dume.

View from El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

View from El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

A steep dirt trail goes down to a series of stairs that take you to the bottom.  This is where you get your first glimpse of the numerous rocks against the cliff.  As you continue going down, the water looks clearer with turquoise and emerald tones.

El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

View from the stairs taking you to the bottom of El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Stairs at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Once at the bottom, I discovered many caves formed by the waves crashing against the cliff.  It was also interesting to imagine forms in the rocks.  There are many arched rocks in here so it is easy to “see” elephant silhouettes here and there. Another rock looks like a bent index finger.

Cliff at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Arched rock at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Big rocks at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

If the tide is low enough, it is possible to walk to El Matador’s sister beaches, La Piedra and El Pescador.

Big rocks at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Big rocks at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Elephant rock at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Walking towards Point Dume, you get close to million dollars houses.  Some parts of Malibu have even been nicknamed “Billionaire’s Beach.”  In this area, “Private Beach” signs start to pop up.  Continue you walk in peace, since under California’s Constitution, the public is allowed be on the wet sand (official definition: mean high tide line).

The other side of El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Just writing this post made eager to return to El Matador.  At least, I don’t have to go that far to experience my perfect beach.

Path leading to El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California

 

Directions and Tips:

–          El Matador Beach is located 4 miles north of famous Zuma Beach (or 24 miles north of Santa Monica) on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  Be attentive to the signs since the entrance point is sometimes difficult to spot.

–          There is a fee parking lot at the top of the bluffs.

–          People who want to avoid the fee, park on PCH.  Be carefully when crossing the highway if you part across the street.

–          There is a portable restroom next to the parking lot.  Be prepared and bring toilet paper (or napkins, gulp!) just in case.

–          There are no food services in the beach.  Bring you food and eat it at the tables on the top.  Or get original and claim one of the caves below.  Have you eaten in a cave before?

–          Don’t leave trash in the area.

–          When going back to Los Angeles (or Santa Monica) thru PCH, try to spot a sign saying the following “Welcome to Malibu. 27 miles of scenic beauty.” Stop there for amazing views of the coast.  A lot of tour groups stop here to get photos.

Malibu Coastline, Malibu, California

Have you visited El Matador Beach? Do you enjoy beaches with big boulders and sea arches?

Ready to pin? Let’s do this?

El Matador, a pocket beach in Malibu's Coast, has been voted many times the most beautiful strand of sand in the Los Angeles area.

3 Comments

  1. Ah, the memories! When I was still living in my native southern CA, El Matador and La Piedra were my absolute favorite beaches. I first discovered them when I still lived in Camarillo and would drive PCH looking for beach access. Yeah, I was one of those teenagers who would sneak onto private property to access the beaches in Malibu (no regrets – what can I say?) Initially there was opposition from local property owners to building these three access points for non-rich locals, but fortunately we won the right to enjoy our state’s beaches. I’ll be visiting family in Huntington Beach in August – now I must go back to these old haunts. I do remember it is a bit of a steep hike – really the return trip up that takes a little effort, but is well worth it. Thank you so much for this great post and for reviving happy memories.

    • Roberta,
      Thanks for your comment. Cool to learn how things “used” to be.

      There are several movements (even some apps) informing the public about how to access Malibu beaches even though property owners go to a lot of extremes to restrict access. Malibu has some of the prettiest beaches in the Los Angeles area so the public should be able to enjoy those area.

      I still have to visit La Piedra. In fact, there are a lot of places I need to check out in the area.
      Ruth recently posted..Discovery of the Week: Albarracin, SpainMy Profile

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