Sometimes being adventurous and spontaneous is not that easy.
It has been said that it is easier than ever to obtain travel information from up-to-date and massive sources like the Internet.
I am the first to admit the Internet has allowed me to gather, otherwise hard to find, information about the places I visit. This is true especially when I am trying to find facts about off-the-beaten-path destinations or local places that do not appeal to the masses.
But a lot of the local (at least about the Los Angeles area) is ambiguous and confusing. Often, I read a Yelp review or see a photo and get hooked. The Google search that follows turns out to be imprecise. The ‘experts’ out there do not seem to have a clear methodology to explain how to get to a certain place (or what to expect).
All my rants about finding information on the Internet came to mind the day I visited Point Dume Beach and Reserve.
A lot of people rave on the Internet about this place and I knew I had seen the sign meters before the Zuma Beach indications. I knew I had to turn left and park on Westward Beach Road, walk to the end of the beach and find a flight of stairs. I was expecting and easy and breezy trip but ended discovering the detailed version of the instructions the hard way.
My first error was to think I was going to find the stairs leading to the preserve close to the street parking. We parked on one of the first, free spots available on Westward Beach Road (almost next to Zuma Lagoon). We ended up walking about a mile toward the end of the road.
This is when I got into problem number two. The road ended and I wasn’t still able to see the set of stairs I was looking for. At that point, I didn’t know what to do but I assumed we had to continue walking over the sand (there is a public parking lot in there).
This second walk was tougher than the first one since the sand is very soft and loose in here. I shouldn’t be complaining since there are tall cliffs (topped with mansions) facing the beach. The clouds helped to make the view prettier.
After a while, I was able to see the end of the beach and the famous promontory that gives this place a name. Point Dume has been famous thru the times because:
- It was used as a sacred space by the native Chumash
- It was a critical landmark to sailors in past centuries
- It has appeared in movies, TV shows and photo shoots
And, of course, I was thrilled to finally find the stairs (at the end of the paid parking lot) used to ascend to the top of this volcanic cone.
My irritated mood started to change quickly when I started to get fabulous views of Westward Beach from the top of Point Dume.
Because, who can be in a bad mood when you are surrounded by so much beauty?
There was people rock climbing and we were able to see the action for the top. My husband felt inspired to do a ‘fake’ but interesting pose.
From the top, you also have good views of Pirate’s Cove (which used to be a nude beach).
Wait, there is more!
We continued walking the paths of the reserve and ended up finding an awesome view point from where clear toned waters and many birds can be observed. We sat down for a few minutes to admire the surroundings.
When we decided to continue walking, I was left behind while taking pictures of a bunch of pelicans downs the cliffs. My husband, after moving several meters, shouted: “You have to see this.”
I walked towards him and little by little Dume Cove unveiled in front of me. While mesmerized by the view, I felt like banging my head against a tree for not visiting this place sooner. You are going to give me the reason once you see the photos.
We walked down the beach to get better views.
It was hard to leave this place (I wanted to stay like forever). On the other hand, I felt reassured. Even close to home, you can find your little piece of paradise.
Finally, we made it to the highest part of the reserve not without noticing my third error. There is free parking on the road above Dume Cove (the aptly named Cliffside Drive).
On the top, there is a plaque offering some information. Turns out Point Dume was named by George Vancouver (so famous people named an island and cities after him) after his friend, Father Francisco Dumetz. This is the western terminus of the Santa Monica Bay and it has been registered as a historical landmark.
I believe this area is one of the most beautiful in Los Angeles County. This is the kind of place I will take out of town visitors. In retrospective, I even felt good about all the misleading information I found about this place. I was able to find myself how to get around the place which added a dimension of adventure to the day.
Here are my, not so confusing (I hope), instructions to visit Point Dume State Beach and Reserve:
- This area is located south (adjacent) to famous Zuma Beach. Signs on Pacific Coast Highway indicate where to turn.
- Once you exit Pacific Coast Highway, you are going to find yourself on Westward Beach Road. You can park for free on the street. Keep in mind this is a long road. To get closer to the path leading to the reserve, park at the end of the road (close to The Sunset restaurant) and walk to the end of the beach (it is easier to walk on the parking lot concrete).
- If you want to minimize the walking, park at the public parking lot at the end of Westward Beach Road ($8 to $10 fee) and drive to the end of the parking lot (which is the same as the end of the beach).
- Take into consideration this area gets very crowded during high season (summer) and weekends. There may not be free (or even paid) parking spots available. If you go during these times, try to arrive early.
- There is also free parking on Cliffside Drive. This is actually the reserve’s parking and it is easier to get access thru here. The only problem is that there are about 15 parking spots and they fill up fast.
- Come prepared with water, snacks, sunglasses, hats and whatever else you need. The hike is not long or strenuous.
Have you been to Point Dume Beach or Reserve?
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