This article highlights the Point Dume State Beach and Reserve. Seriously, this spot in Malibu is one of the prettiest in Los Angeles County!
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 info (at least about the Los Angeles area) seems to be ambiguous and confusing. Often, I read a Yelp review or see a photo and get hooked on a place. Then, a Google search does not provide easy-to-follow details about how to reach that place. This drives me mad.
All my rants about finding information on the Internet came to mind the day I visited Point Dume Beach and Reserve. I will give you more details about my little ordeal below.
The positive is that I am here to give you specific details on how to access and enjoy this beautiful spot in Los Angeles County.
Reaching Point Dume
A lot of people rave on the Internet about Point Dume and I knew I had seen the signs pointing towards it in the Zuma Beach vicinity. 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 an 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 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 through 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 photoshoots
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 were 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 viewpoint 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 (or Big Dume Beach) 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.
You can reach Dume Cove by going down a set of stairs. The beach is ample and full of tidepools. We saw tons of rare marine life (to be honest, I had no idea of what some stuff on the pools were).
During low tide, you can walk to a cove called Little Dume Beach. Dogs are allowed to roam off-leash here.
It was hard to leave this place (I wanted to stay 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 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 retrospect, 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.
Point Dume: Location and Access
Point Dume is located about 50 miles from Downtown Los Angeles and 32 miles from Los Angeles International Airport. I recommend reaching this spot through the scenic Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1, join this road in Santa Monica).
Here are my detailed instructions (not so confusing, I hope) to access Point Dume State Beach and Reserve:
- This area is located south (adjacent) to the 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 (towards the Point Dume Promontory).
- 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).
- Once at the end of the beach, you are going to see the stairs leading to the top of the promontory.
- 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. Or, drive patiently around looking for a spot.
- An alternative is to park in the Zuma Beach parking lot (which is huge).
- There is also free parking on Cliffside Drive. This is actually the reserve’s parking and it is easier to get access through here since this street takes you to the top of the promontory. The only problem is that there are about 15 parking spots and they fill up fast.
- To access Cliffside Drive, drive to the end of Westward Beach Road and turn left on Birdview Avenue. Birdview Avenue becomes Cliffside Drive.
- Come prepared with water, snacks, sunglasses, hats, and whatever else you need. The hike is not long or strenuous.
Where to Eat
The Sunset Restaurant is located right in the area (Westward Beach Road). This is a great place to have cocktails during sunset (the name of the restaurant hits the nail on the head).
On Pacific Coast Highway, you are going to find Lily’s Malibu. This place is well-known for its huge burritos (bacon, chorizo, ham, machaca, sausage). They serve burgers, sandwiches, tacos, carne asada plates, and more.
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe is another local favorite. Well, Paradise Cove is more than a cafe. It is an experience. You can spend all day here sunbathing, lounging, eating, and drinking. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
Note: Notice Paradise Cove charges a fee to park and use its facilities. The fee is reasonable ($8-10) if you spend $30 or more at the beach cafe. However, the fee is hefty ($30-$50) if you consume less than $30. By law, owners have to provide free access to the beach. A lot of people park in PCH and walk to the beach.
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