El Matador Beach – Malibu’s Perfect Little Cliffside Beach
El Matador Beach in Malibu
While in Southern California, Peter and I had the opportunity to visit many gorgeous California beaches and one of them was El Matador Beach.
El Matador Beach is located off the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) near Malibu, California. This cliffside beach is filled with caves and massive rocks sprinkled along the beach.
There is an option to park close to the beach, but the parking lot is tiny! I mean tiny! And there is a fee to park in the official beach lot, so you’ll most likely need to park on Highway 1 along the sides of the road. That’s where we parked and we just walked along the edge of the road to get to the beach. Once there, we found a picture perfect setting from on high. Deep blue water dotted with kelp beds, rocking outcroppings along the beach and in the water, which made for some great photographs.
Prior to descending to the beach itself, you can picnic on the tables and make use of the porta-potties. (These are the only bathrooms, so if you don’t take advantage before descending, you’ll have to hike back up to them.)
The actual path down to the beach is a steep dirt trail, as you can see in the photo from Instagram below. Once you get past that steep path, you’ll find a staircase that leads you down to the beach. Given the hike and steep descent, this is not a beach to lug down chairs and coolers. (Stick to a backpack with drinks and food and a towel and you’ll be fine.)
The beach itself is narrow, especially at high tide, and about a half-mile long. You can opt to plop down and enjoy the waves, bodyboarders and surfers, or take a walk along the beach. We investigated a few of the caves and rock arches, splashed around in the water, and settled down to watch the families and couples, young and old, who were enjoying a sunny day at the beach.
We found the best part about El Matador Beach to be the caves and rock formations. Unique to this beach in Malibu, I recommend you take some time to enjoy this magnificent location.
Things to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit El Matador Beach:
- Tiny parking lot so unless you show up early plan to park along Highway 1.
- There are no real restrooms, only port-a-potties.
- There are no pets allowed.
- No alcohol allowed. When we were walking back to our car, there were some police officers pouring out alcohol that some individuals tried to bring to the beach. So note that the area is patrolled, don’t try to be sneaky.
- The beach sneaks up on you so make sure you know where to turn out on the Pacific Coast Highway.
- Make sure it’s low tide, so you’re able to walk down the beach and enjoy the caves.
- Bring food if you’re planning on relaxing on the beach.
- The walkway down to the beach is pretty steep so keep that in mind for older individuals. It’s not stroller or wheelchair user accessible.
Once you are done at the beach, you might want to check out Charmlee Wilderness Park, about 3 miles away from El Matador Beach. Charmlee Wilderness Park encompasses almost 600 acres of wilderness in the Santa Monica Mountains, and offers hiking trails, picnic accommodations, a nature center, and some killer ocean views (perfect for you photography buffs!). You can also hike Zuma Canyon, accessible via a trailhead on Bonsall Drive. Located about 5 miles from the beach, there are multiple trails and loops to wander around (and you can bring your dog!).
There are also some great eats to be had in the area, all within 5 miles of Matador Beach. Ollie’s Duck & Dive is a gastropub with an industrial vibe. Featuring craft beers and local wines, they also serve lunch and dinner. Food is on the healthy side, with the chef making use of “free-range, hormone-free, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients.” Perfect place to spend the afternoon.
If you’d like to start your day out right, head over to Le Village Cafe for some breakfast or brunch. Located in the Trancas Country Mart in Malibu West, this cafe has its own bakery, uses 100% organic produce, and has some pretty tasty menu items.
If you’d like to keep that ocean theme going, visit Kristy’s, which has some beautiful ocean views. Try an early dinner here and take advantage of the beautiful California sunset. Kirsty’s features a good selection of seafood, some tasty entrees, and even pizza.
If you’ve visited El Matador Beach before, let me know! What was your favorite part! If you haven’t visited this California state beach before, but plan to in the near future, let me know if you have any other questions about it!
P.S. Check out this post to view the cute beach outfit we photographed on this beach.