Los Angeles Beaches Only Locals Know About

El Matador State Beach, Malibu, United States
El Matador State Beach, Malibu, United States | Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash
Dominic Bertolami

Freelance writer

North of Los Angeles, between the Pacific Palisades and Malibu and nestled among the California coastline, are a variety of inlets and alcoves that make up L.A.’s best hidden or secluded beaches. These self-proclaimed V.I.P. destinations make for an unbeatable shoreside experience.

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Though these beaches are open to the public, few besides the local community—or enthusiasts of the unknown and unexpected—tend to take advantage of the unique opportunity to spend a low key beach day. An afternoon or weekend basking in the finite breeze of Southern California, replete with uncrowded and unmarked surf and sand, is the pinnacle of a local beach experience.

Lechuza Beach, Malibu

This little-known public beach in Malibu is situated under the homes on Broad Beach Road. Walking through the tree-covered beach access found leading down to the sandy beach only adds to the mystique and intrigue. The various rock formations dotting the shoreline make this an ideal location for a secluded daytime photo shoot. The calm waves lapping at the shore add a relaxing ambiance to a picnic date night or a sunset hangout with friends.

El Matador State Beach

El Matador State Beach, Malibu, United States

Located 24.5 miles north of Santa Monica, El Matador beach is one of three beaches making up Robert H. Meyer Memorial Beach. This destination is an ideal day trip for the freewheeling traveler. It takes approximately 50 minutes by car to reach and is one of the top-rated beaches in Malibu, and for good reason. Its towering cliffs and long stretches of white sand are offset by massive rock formations, tide pools, arched rocks and hidden sea caves. The secrets to uncover here are what makes this destination so unique. This sensational shoreline is also home to a variety of seabirds who share their space with surfers and bodyboarders daring enough to ride the dangerous breaks here. Spend a day relaxing in the sand, exploring a sea cave, or taking in the spectacular views.

Leo Carillo State Park & Beach

Leo Carillo State Park & Beach, California, USA

Leo Carillo State Park, named after the actor and conservationist is 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica. This secluded getaway has 1.5 miles of pristine sandy beaches. Pack a lunch and go for a hike through the backcountry trails, or plan a surf trip with friends. Bring a fishing pole and cast from the shore, or explore the many tidepools, coastal caves and reefs. With overnight camping available, extend a day trip into multiple days of rugged excursion. This state park offers a variety of time-tested outdoor activities for fun-seeking travelers of any interest.

Little Dume Beach

Surrounded by Malibu’s most sought-after, high-end real estate, access to this confirmed secret haven is for the traveler seeking an authentic off-the-beaten-path adventure. Little Dume is a small piece of public beach which is only accessible by foot during low tide. Ideal for travelers with a flexible schedule, this gem is a short walk north of Paradise Cove or just south of Big Dume (some suggest starting from Paradise Cove is easier). The locals are friendly and spend time surfing, diving in the reefs, or exploring the rock formations and tide pools. Enjoy a secluded walk on the shore or pack a picnic with a friend. Just make sure to bring a camera to document your successful trip to the “challenge of Little Dume.”

Pirate’s Cove Beach

Pirates Cove, Corona Del Mar, United States

Located on the west side of Point Dume, Pirates Cove is a small sandy beach with nearby hiking and rock climbing. Made famous as the filming location for the last scene in the Planet of the Apes (1968), this secret treasure is 22 miles north of Santa Monica. Accessible via public transport, this is the ideal destination for the traveler without a vehicle. Stretch out on the sand or ascend the bluffs to check out the panoramic view. Take a day to commune with nature while exploring a secret paradise.

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