No trip to Malibu would be complete without spending time in the beautiful landscape that makes up the Point Dume National Preserve. From its sprawling cliffs to its expansive beaches, this area indeed houses some of Southern California’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. If you are a Southern California resident and you have not visited this area, you can stop reading now and experience it for yourself.
- Limited free parking
- Costs to park at the beach and hike up
- Written from when I visited in 2017
In 1793, this area was named by George Vancouver in honor of Padre Francisco Dumetz of Mission San Buenaventura. George spelled it incorrectly on his map, simply as Dume, and the name was never changed. Over the years, it was settled by some small houses that transformed into the sprawling mansions that cover the area today. The actual preserve is now protected from any additional housing, but there are huge mansions on either side of it.
How to Get There
Getting to Point Dume could not be easier. It is located about two miles off Pacific Coast Highway, right on a scenic stretch of road about 20 minutes northwest of Malibu. There is limited parking at the top area of the preserve (about 10 car spots), but if that is full, it is easy to drive down to the beautiful coastal road below, then pay the $8 (as of 2016) per car per day for a parking spot. Parking in this area will add about a quarter of a mile onto your trek, but it is well worth it as you get to see the cliffs from below and can even spend time on the beautiful beach.
Hiking Point Dume
The trail from the bottom parking lot to the top is a little over a half-mile. While not hard, this trail will take you a while simply due to the fantastic vistas that welcome you after every bend in the trail. If you park in the upper area, this trail is like 1/5th of a mile from car to the top.
I would suggest spending a good amount of time here as there is so much to take in. Some of the spotlights include the cliffs that are on the south side of the beach, the coastline view back to Malibu, and the small little deck that is built into the side of the hill (it has to be one of the most beautiful places to see a sunset). There is a lot of beauty to take in here.
Point Dume Beach
The beach has a lot to offer as well. The pristine water and sand are a welcome sight to those familiar with some of the other lesser taken care of Southern California beaches, and the massive cliffs that line the edges make it a must-see. I was told that there are even rock climbing trails on these cliffs that are great for the moderate climbers.
I also spoke with some scuba divers that told me this is one of the best places in Southern California to scuba dive as well. I could see what they meant as the water did look pretty clear. They told me they saw some sea anemones and a lot of random fish.
Being so close to Hollywood and full of such beauty, this is a popular place for the movie industry to film. By far, one of the most famous movies filmed here was the original Planet of the Apes. The climactic ending where he sees the Statue of Liberty and realizes he is still on Earth *spoiler alert if you haven’t seen that movie from 30 years ago yet. Also, Tony Stark’s house in Iron Man was digitally added on the cliffs of Point Dume, and many other movies and shows were filmed here as well.
I cannot stress how much you need to see this area. It is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Southern California, and I would recommend you add it to the hike to Escondido Falls as that truly is a full day of incredible sights. When I went, it was the wintertime, so it was not too busy, but I imagine you will need to get here early if you want to tackle the summer crowds. Let me know what you think in the comments.