El Matador Beach

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Rocks and surf, El Matador Beach
Sea cave on El Matador Beach

El Matador Beach 

  • Location: 32210 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.  From Santa Monica, take Pacific Coast Highway for 24 miles.  Turn left into the signed parking lot for El Matador Beach (just after Trancas Canyon Road and before Encinal Canyon Road.)  Parking is $8 per car per day.
  • Agency: State of California
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  Year round (low tide – check here for more information)
  • USGS topo map: “Malibu Beach”
  • Recommended gear: swim suit; beach towel
  • More information: here; Yelp reviews here
  • Rating: 6

Past Zuma Beach and Point Dume on the way to the Ventura County line, there are several small, less-visited beaches in Malibu.  One is El Matador, where swimmers–and hikers–can see some of the coastline’s most interesting geology, including some small sea caves and rugged bluffs.

From the parking area, head downhill on a steep, sometimes washed out path (families with small kids will want to take extra care here.) As you descend, you get dramatic aerial views of the beach almost immediately. The path becomes a metal staircase which takes you down to sea level. Head left (west), passing through a natural cut in the rocks. You pass a few small sea caves and eventually come to a steep wooden stepladder that leads to a private home. Beyond the ladder, a large rock outcropping blocks, for all practical purposes, any further progress. Past this, the coastline continues to La Piedra and El Pescador Beaches. The rock walls create a nice, secluded little cove where hikers can sit and watch the waves–and perhaps take a short swim–before heading back.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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