This article explores Malibu’s Pier (and its surroundings), one of the top attractions in Los Angeles.
Malibu, like many other cities in California, has a pier that has become an icon due to its position on an area that was once called the Riviera of America (it is still the Riviera of the rich and famous). In these latitudes, piers are constructed for sport fishing related reasons (you do not need a license to fish on piers).
Make no mistake. This particular pier does not attract people from many parts of the world because of its bait and tackle shops or because of the boats that depart every day in search of halibut, sea bass, and rockfish.
A festive atmosphere where flavorsome food is shared in good company has something to do with the magnetism of this place. But there are many other reasons that make the area around the pier a pleasurable stop for those in search of something different.
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I am going to start defending my case with a simple observation. The views (oh glorious views) are incredible from the pier. To the back, you have the Santa Monica Mountains. After composing hundreds of photos, you are still discovering different vegetation types, copious soil colors, and neat houses hanging from steep cliffs.
To the opposite side, there are vast ocean views. But wait, the water has a different shade here (in comparison to beaches located to the south). The soft moving waves are saturated with cyan and robin egg blue hues. It is like the grim effects of industrialization have never touched this space.
On top of that, there is a two-story building at the tip of the pier. Visitors have access to the balcony-like upper floor. From there, it is more exciting to take a look at the surroundings. I don’t know if it is just me but I have never seen another pier from where you can scan the surface like a seagull.
Malibu’s Pier: The Surfing
Then, adjacent to the pier, you have the surfers. I know. There are always people riding the waves next to piers. However, this surfing spot is different. This beach, formerly known as Surfrider Beach, has achieved the status of legend in surfing circles.
The right break on the beach is widely recognized by surfers all over the world and has contributed to the elevation of surfing as a sport and culture. The spot is so highly regarded that in 2010 it was declared the first World Surfing Reserve (by an organization aiming to protect global surf areas).
So, I think you get it. For some, this is not an ordinary beach. If you are a surfer, you have found your pot of gold. For those of us that have never put a foot on a surfboard, it is still a cool experience to see people sharing the waves. It is possible to watch students practicing their moves before getting to the water.
Read More: Best Surfing Spots in California
My favorite part of this beach is where the Malibu Creek hits the sea. An estuary (called Malibu Lagoon) is created at the mouth of the creek (the buildup created by the creek is what makes the surf break so good).
Migratory birds use the lagoon as a rest stop. The best part? You do not have to wait for a migration. Every time I have visited, dozens of pelicans, cormorants, and seagulls are hanging around in the shallow waters. It is just a beautiful spectacle.
It is not difficult to cross the creek on foot and take a look at the birds from the other side. Once you have crossed, there is not a lot more walking to do since a fence restricts access. At that time, it is better to take another look at your surroundings, park yourself for a day, or move on to another gorgeous beach.
Malibu has some pretty well-known strands of sand. However, Carbon Beach, located south of the pier, may be the beach that everybody wants to see.
Also known as Billionaire’s Beach, this one-mile long beach is lined with houses owned by movie stars, models, and CEOs. It can be accessed from the pier area or from gates located on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
Keep in mind all beaches in California are public. You are allowed to use the portion where the sand is wet (there is a technical definition of what part of a beach is public but it way too complicated).
Malibu’s Pier: Tips to Navigate the Area
The beach adjacent to the pier is officially called Malibu Creek State Beach (even though many refer to it as Surfrider Beach). Do not confuse the name with the Malibu Creek State Park (that is another place).
The Adamson House, a National Historic Landmark and famous for its extensive tile work, is adjacent to the beach. It can be visited from Wednesday to Saturday (there is an entrance fee).
If you are hungry, the Malibu Farm is located right at the pier. This is a popular spot to have brunch or lunch. Keep in mind it gets packed during the weekends. The restaurant has a cafe (Malibu Farm Pier Cafe) at the end of the pier. You may be able to get some of their popular dishes quicker (you order to go, the cafe does not get you the sit-down experience).
Do not disturb the birds at the estuary. Observe from a prudent distance.
In terms of parking, the ideal situation is to find a free spot at PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). Now, this is almost impossible to attain during high season and weekends.
There is a public lot next to the pier and private ones across the street.
Cross PCH only on designated areas. It is dangerous to jaywalk here.
As I spend a lot of time on the beach, I have my gear packed and ready to throw in the car. Here is an idea of what I would take to Malibu.
- Easy Set Up Beach Tent – This is essential since most beaches in California do not have shaded areas. >Check out this great tent option here
- Big Portable Umbrella – Sometimes, we prefer to use an umbrella since we want to sit on a chair verse lying on the floor. Plus, I find it easier to adjust/move the umbrella to block the sun. >Buy a beach umbrella
- Walking Shoes – Comfortable walking shoes are a must. My go-to brands are Clarks, Tevas, and Sketchers.
- Flip Flops – Flip flops are a must on any beach trip. I am partial to the Tevas brand. >>Take a look at these beautiful flip flops
- Water Sandals – If you want a more polished look, check out these leather-made salt water sandals.
- Sweatshirt – A sweatshirt is a must to keep me warm during chilly mornings and nights. >Click to see this California appropriate option here
- Sun Block – Do not leave the house (or the car) without applying sunblock. I repeat, always wear sunblock when outdoors. >Buy sunblock here
- Lip Balm with Sunscreen – Protect your lips by applying a balm with sunscreen. >Get one of the best lip balms here
- Wide Brim Hat – A wide brim hat is a great way to protect your scalp, face, and neck. The ones manufactured by FURTALK come with an anti-UV function. >Buy this amazing hat here
- Sunglasses – These are another must when it comes to protecting from the sun. A polarized, sporty pair works better outdoors. >Take a look at this wonderful pair
- Towels – This is the accessory I always forget about. WETCAT’s Turkish Towels take minimum space and dry fast. >Buy a Turkish towel here
- Foldable Chairs – Portable chairs allow you to set camp at the beach, park, winery, and even a parking lot. A classic Coleman portable chair is a solid choice. >>Buy portable camping chair
- Beach Blanket – For laying on the sand, a beach blanket is necessary. Good ones are waterproof, sandproof, and light. The blankets manufactured by Wekapo fit several adults and are durable. >Buy this nice beach blanket here
- Soft Cooler Bag – A soft cooler bag with enough capacity is great for having drinks and some food items at hand. I love my CleverMade collapsible cooler bag. >Take a look at my cooler here
- Water Bottle – Do not forget to bring water! Keep yours cold by taking a beautiful Hydro Flask water bottle. >Check out the insane options here
- THERMOS Tumblers – I have been a fan of the THERMOS brand since I received a tumbler as a gift. The tumblers keep drinks hot for hours. >>Buy THERMOS insulated tumblers here
- Dry Bag – Keep your valuables (and electronics) protected by bringing a dry bag. >These dry bag is awesome
- Beach Bag or Large Tote – Carry all your gear on an amazing beach bag. Get one with tons of pockets (I love pockets). >>>Check out my beach bag top pick
- Camera – I have never gotten used to taking pictures exclusively with my phone. I prefer to use the Sony Alpha a6000. It is compact and takes gorgeous pictures. >Buy Sony Camera here
- Tripod – A compact tripod to take your photos and videos to a different level. >>Check out this popular option here
- Portable Power Bank – It is a pain to keep phones charged on beach trips. Having a power bank is a lifesaver. The Anker portable charger can charge a phone 5 times. >Buy this incredible power bank here
More of Los Angeles
Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
Have you visited Malibu’s Pier?