El Matador State Beach: Malibu’s Best Kept Secret

Along the coast of Malibu are some of the best beaches in the entire United States. All of them are pretty spectacular, but for my money, the best is El Matador State Beach. If you can find parking in the super small lot, then you are in for a real treat. The beach has a long stretch of sand, sea caves, and massive rocks. Plus it is also stunning for sunset, here is all the information.

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  • 8 dollars for parking
  • 8 AM – Sunset
  • Only 20 spots in the lot
  • Steep walk down to the beach
  • Bathroom at the trailhead
  • I visited in 2016, 2018 and 2020

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While driving on Pacific Coast Highway past Point Dume and before Leo Carrillo, you will want to watch for the small sign on the right telling you El Matador State Beach is ahead. It doesn’t have a lot of great signs, so you want to make sure you are keeping your eyes peeled. You will turn into the dirt parking lot from there and hope there is parking. People often park on the street but if you do this, be very careful to read the signs, as I have seen cars get tickets for parking in the wrong section.  

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After finding a spot, make sure to pay for the parking pass, then head to the overlook for a beautiful coastal view before walking down to the beach. 

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The walk to the beach is relatively steep but manageable for most people. The beginning is all dirt; then it has a series of stairs before another section of dirt and more stairs. From there, you are officially on the beach. Do remember that the bathrooms are up in the parking lot if you need to use them.

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The beach is beautiful in every direction with massive rocks, birds, and seaweed covered stones. 

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I love seeing all of the birds flying around the beach and nesting on the big rocks.


You usually have no problem finding a beautiful spot to relax here as the lack of parking makes it difficult for it to get overcrowded. 

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The main attraction is the massive rock that had a series of small arches. A few of them are big enough to walk through and others you would have to crawl under. Here is a picture from inside of the arch at low tide.

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This beach is especially fantastic at golden hour when the sun is setting in the distance and lighting up the beach with a golden hue.

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If you go at sunrise or sunset, you will see a lot of photographers. This is to be expected as the geological rock formations here are some of the better ones in Southern California.

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Here is a shot of the beach from afar where you can see all of the rocks that run along the coastline.


The north section of the beach is worth visiting as well, it is less busy, and there are more places to explore.

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If you haven’t been, then you need to go as it is incredible, and I guarantee it is worth finding parking so you can experience it yourself. Let me know what your favorite Malibu beach is in the comments.

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