If you have read this blog for some time, you know there are two green areas I love to visit and explore (yes, those exist around Los Angeles).
One of those places is Malibu. While the city is not that far from where I live, the only way to get there is by driving the congested Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, going thru Venice Beach and Santa Monica) or taking the freeway and crossing the Santa Monica Mountains (which is another horrendous idea in terms of traffic).
Therefore, when I need a quick dose of fresh air and ocean vistas I go to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
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About the Palos Verdes Peninsula
For those of you not familiar with the area, the Palos Verdes Peninsula rises 1,450 feet above the South Bay of Los Angeles County. Scientists tell us the peninsula is a tectonic fault block of seafloor sediments that have risen from the sea. There use to be a gap between the mainland and the block of land (it was an island). The island later became a peninsula when the region between the island and the mainland filled with alluvial deposits from the mountain ranges near the Los Angeles basin.
Because of many reasons (late development when compared to other areas of the region, unstable terrain related to faults, conservation efforts), the peninsula has been spared from the concrete and asphalt that covers most parts of the Los Angeles Country.
In here you can find trails, wildflowers, ocean cliffs, tide pools, rare trees, wildlife and water in tones resembling the Caribbean. I am not exaggerating on the description of the beaches. In fact, the film Pirates of the Caribbean was partly photographed in this area.
This post is about those ‘secret coves’ which are not widely known or visited in the peninsula. These are places frequented by the locals.
Access and Location
To visit these coves, take the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in the southern direction and turn right on Palos Verdes Boulevard. A few miles ahead, you are going to get to an intersection where the road diverts. Make sure to stay on Palos Verdes Drive West. This is the scenic road which is going to take you thru the cliffs.
The coves described in this article are is located about 12 – 18 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport, 30 – 38 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, 25 – 30 miles from Santa Monica and 22 – 28 miles from Venice Beach.
They are located much closer to the beach cities in Los Angeles County (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach). We are talking about 6 to 8 miles.
This a famed surf spot noted for its large swells. Because of its size, it is considered a bay. To get there, you can turn right on Paseo del Mar (after passing the Lunada Bay Plaza). There is parking available on the street.
This is a stunning cove where red cliffs and turquoise waters abound. If you are coming from Palos Verdes Drive, turn right on Paseo Lunado (which is going to convert to Paseo del Mar). If you are coming from Lunada Bay, you do not have to go back to the main road. Drive south on Paseo del Mar and turn right on a small street (looks more like a bridge) passing over the Lunada Canyon. Turn right again and drive a few meters. You are going to see a bare and dusty area to the right. The cove cannot be seen from the street. You have to get out of the car and take a look. I know this sounds kind of confusing. Just remember, Google Maps is your best friend in here.
Christmas Tree Cove
This cove is ‘next’ to Honeymoon Cove. Drive south on Paseo del Mar and you are going to notice it to the right (the street narrows). This is an interesting area since a landslide happened here. Again the cove is not seen from the street. You have to get out of the car and walk towards the edge of the cliffs.
To get here, you have to get back to Palos Verdes Drive and turn right on Calle Entradero. You are going to see the parking lot right in front of the sea (there is also parking on the street). You can take a look at the area from the Golden Cove Trail. This trail connects to the Seascape Trail, the Vicente Bluffs Reserve, the Point Vicente Interpretative Center, and the Point Vicente Lighthouse. Therefore, there is an opportunity to do some walking and hiking around here. Notice you can access the area from other streets (like Via Vicente).
There is a lot to do in the area. It is very easy to spend an entire day hiking, doing watersports or hiking on the beach.
I have a detailed article on the best Palos Verdes Hikes and Trails. I recommend checking out that article to plan out your day. Most of the hikes in the area have a free access.
Close to these coves, you will find the following:
- RAT (Right at Torrance) Beach
- Malaga Cove and Roessler Point
- Malaga Creek Trails
- Bluff Cove
- Vicente Bluffs Reserve
- Point Vicente Lighthouse and Interpretative Center
- Pelican Cove
- Abalone Cove
Where to Eat
If you are feeling a bit hungry, your best bet is the Golden Cove Shopping Center. This compact area has several restaurants, a coffee shop, a supermarket, and a convenience store. It is located less than a mile from Golden Cove and a couple of miles from the other coves.
In the peninsula, you can also stop by the Lunada Bay Plaza, the Malaga Cove Plaza or the Peninsula Shopping Center.
Or, if you prefer, you can opt to eat at one of the fabulous restaurants located at the Terranea Resort. The resort offers fine dining experience in conjunction with magnificent ocean views.
- All these can be visited free of charge
- You can get to the bottom of all these coves but you have to be very careful. In order to get to the water level, you have to go thru steep terrain and non-maintained trails. People get rescued all the time (so analyze the situation carefully). In addition, pay attention to sea conditions and tides if get down
- Get exact directions from Google Maps
- Bring enough water for each member of your party. Snacks such as fruit, trail mix, and granola bars are a good idea to have at hand
- None of the places mentioned in the article have restrooms on-site. Restrooms are available at the shopping centers mentioned in the “Where to Eat” area
More of the South Bay
While checking the wonders of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it may be a good idea to stop by the nearby towns.
- Redondo Beach Pier: What to Do, See and Eat
- Things to do in Hermosa Beach
- Terrific Things to Do in Torrance
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
- Venice Beach Murals
Have you visited Golden Cove or other coves in the Palos Verdes Peninsula?