8.3 Photogenic

El Matador beach is picture perfect. Access is a bit on the rough side, but it's worth the effort to make it down to the sand. Weekends in the summer can get crowded, but what do you expect? This is the best beach in Malibu California.

  • Je ne sais quoi (How cool is it?) 9.5
  • Scenery 9.5
  • Water 6
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 9.5

El Matador Beach Spot Extraordinaire

The best beach spot in Malibu is El Matador Beach. This exclusive coastal California town  probably has the greatest beaches in the US. El Matador is the best beach of the best beach town. At El Matador there are tremendous boulders, some caves, and an incredible patch of sand. There is a smallish parking lot off PCH with some picnic tables that offer very nice views. The Pacific Coast Highway is well marked, so you should not have any issues finding this beach spot.

It is a part of the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, along with two other beaches, El Pescador and La Piedra. El Matador is the closest to Malibu and extremely popular. To descend to the beach, you need to follow a trail and then use the steep stairs. It is neither handicap accessible, nor friendly for small children. A moderate level of physical fitness is required to safely get there. That said, it’s well worth the effort.

Where is El Matador Beach, Malibu? 34°1′N 118°46′W

Where is El Matador Beach? It is in Malibu, California on the PCH

Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach

Well known for having movie stars and other extremely wealthy residents, the beach city of Malibu lives up to its reputation. The population of Malibu was 12,645 in the 2010 census. This beach city is 30 miles west of downtown LA. It didn’t incorporate into the City of Malibu until 1991. In addition to actors, this town has a pleasant Mediterranean climate and 21 miles of beach. The majority of the people that live here, are within a couple hundred yards of PCH.

A visit to El Matador beach is amazing for all

Best Malibu Beach – El Matador

Originally Malibu was settled by the Chumash. The Chumash were a Native American people who inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California. Their territory extended from Malibu to up north in Morro Bay, in parts of LA, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Additionally, the Chumash controlled the Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel in the Channel Islands.

Visit the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach for three world class beaches in Los Angeles County

Home to the Chumash Indian Tribe

The Chumash lived where there were plentiful water supplies between the best California beaches and the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Chumash are known to have had a wealth of resources in and around the present region of Santa Barbara. The coast, Northern Channel Islands, and the interior were all home to this tribe and helped to support their nomadic lifestyle rather well for a community without agriculture, until the Spaniards came onto the scene.

Just about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles

A Laid Back Beach – Go early  in the Morning

The Chumash lands of the interior included mountains, wide plains and also rivers outside the coast. The Chumash harvested large areas of the ocean and utilized coastal areas important for the nutrition of the group.

Along with the Tongva, a neighboring tribe to the south, the Chumash are one of the rare New World people to navigate the ocean.

Due to the incoming winds from the ocean, all of the coastal California beach region including Matador Beach in Malibu enjoys what is known as a Mediterranean climate. This features mild temperatures and is an easy climate for being a hunter gatherer. The Chumash had plentiful food options as the California coast has a huge variety of fish and animals on land. The tribe existed in a sedentary no pressure lifestyle due to the abundant resources and mild winters. Additionally, the Chumash traded amongst themselves between the various outposts in their territory. This trade network divided the resources of the land and sea which allowed the tribe “to live comfortably without agriculture

What an incredibly beautiful beach in Malibu. El Matador

Check the Tidal Pools for Shellfish

Easy to locate and abundant, shellfish were an important source of nutrition for the Chumash. As expected, a village’s reliance on the ocean was directed related to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. In the winter and early spring, the favorite varieties of shellfish were found in great numbers in the tidal zones. It wasn’t difficult to collect the shellfish, as they were so close to shore. The shellfish typically gathered were abalone, clams and mussels.

Massive rocks on beach in Malibu

Malibu has been a popular beach spot for over 4500 years

In prehistoric days, the village of Humaliwo was an important regional center found next to the Malibu lagoon. This village had been occupied since 2500 BCE. It was the Chumash tribes second biggest coastal settlement. Once the Spaniards arrived 118 people were eventually baptized into the Catholic Church. 

Best California State Beach with ample parking along the Pacific Coast Highway

Messy Court Battles over El Matador and the other beaches

In 1542, to get fresh water from the Malibu Lagoon, the Spanish explorer  Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo came ashore in the area. El Matador beach and the rest of the area was a part of 1802’s 13,000 acre land grant, the Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. The land had been administered by the California Mission System until the land grant. Nearly 100 years later in 1891, the ranch was passed to Frederick Hastings Rindge. Rindge and his wife fought a lengthy court battle against the construction of a railroad line through his property. Trespassers were evicted by guards that had been hired to protect their privacy.

No matter how much time you have, a day at El Matador is better than anything else in LA

PCH was built in 1929

Eventually, California built the Pacific Coast Highway in 1929. There had not been many roads through the best Malibu beaches until then. Unfortunately, Rindge needed to sell and lease lots on her property in an ultimately doomed effort to stay solvent.

The views are insane in this part of Malibu along the ocean.

Privacy on the Beach: Personal Property or Public Lands

Today, some of the beaches of Malibu still desire their privacy. Luckily for us, El Matador State Beach is not only open to the public, its a state park. It’s a beautiful beach spot for pictures, picnics and sunsets. There are frequently photo shoots on the beach. You will find caves and huge arches in the rocks, if you explore a bit to the north. A lot of the exciting features on the beach would be best seen at low tide for safety reasons.

The Waves in el Matador can be fierce. If you come for vacation watch out for the rocks

Improve your life: Visit El Matador Beach

Matador Beach is quite nice. The Pacific might be a little on the chilly side, but its beautiful. When I was there recently, the waves were massive. We got there first thing in the morning, so we didn’t have to fight crowds. We were the first people there, so for nearly two hours, there were less than 10 people on the beach. In all directions Matador beach is impressive.

Malibu is an expensive dreamland 30 miles west of Los Angeles.

The enormous rock with the arches is definitely the main event. Some of the arches are even large enough to walk through. The El Matador Beach is one of the three beaches that form the Robert H. Meyer Memorial Beach. Just north of Malibu, there is a chance you will see photographers and models.

The beach isn’t terribly wide, but it is long. If you go in the water, be careful – there are submerged rocks. On weekends, there will be lifeguards even though there is no tower. The way down to the beach isn’t for everybody. If there is a silver lining to that, its that the view from the top is a lot better than on the beach itself.

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About Author

This project, Beach Spot, has been a lingering thought for nearly 20 years. It started on a crazy offshore Venezuelan island, Isla Margarita, during the first dot com craze. The idea evolved while life continually got in the way. A decade was spent on a Mediterranean island as well as a number of years chasing the sun in the USVI.

Back living stateside in San Diego, this project will hopefully be an enjoyable look at a number of beach towns.

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