Well, the kids have been back in school for a while now, and the winter holidays are around the corner. The air is cooler and the nights are longer. Our sun’s rays have a noticeable slant toward the beach from the south. This time of year the beach has small lapping waves, lots of empty sand, and stretches of contemplative quiet. Even the gulls are subdued.
Winter is on its way and with it the rains that roll down from the north. Believe it or not, this is the ideal time for a quiet beach hike. So when the skies are warm and clear let’s go one more time.
We are lucky to have the ocean near at hand and most of us agree that Paradise Cove in Malibu is one of the finest private beaches in Southern California. This is where we let our kids chase in and out of the waves like skittering sandpipers. Since Malibu shares the Santa Monica Mountains with us and it’s so easy for us to get there, we often take this treasure for granted, especailly this time of year.
The cove and beach have quite a showbiz history. It has been featured in many movies, television shows, and commercials. One of the most popular was Rockford Files starring James Garner back in the seventies. It's difficult not to see famous faces at the local restaurant on the beach. After all, Malibu is either home or hang-out for many in the entertainment industry.
Go ahead and stake your umbrella in the sand, spread your blankets and towels and pop open the coolers. After a few minutes in the warm sun you’ll be relaxed, watching paddle-boarders and kayakers cruise back and forth in the glittering water, while up the coast a ways, surfers bob up and down in the waves.
Lines of pelicans drift by slowly skimming the water in formation. Occasionally one will swoop down with a splash for fish. There’s even a chance of spotting dolphins cruising by.
Beachcombing is a nice excuse to move away from the restaurant. The walk west under the cliffs to Dume State Beach is about three-quarters to a mile. The cove blends with the strip of sand that separates the water from cliffs.
During the weekdays you can usually hike in solitude. Eventually you’ll reach the foot of the promontory that juts out into the ocean. Dume State Park is at the top. Oh, by the way, even though you'll see them running around without a leash, dogs aren’t permitted at Paradise Cove.
Keep in mind, when the tide comes in there are places where the narrow beach disappears under the surf. It’s prudent to plan your walk while the tide recedes or at low tide. This should give you plenty of time to enjoy your walk without worrying about wading through surf to return to your car. This is especially important if you have little kids in tow. Check the tide chart on-line by typing: "Malibu Tide Times and Tide Charts" into Google. A number of sites will pop up.
Convenient parking is in the restaurant’s lot and the day long parking rate is $30. (You can get a discounted rate with validation if you eat in the restaurant.) By noon, even this time of year, the lot can be full and you'll probably be directed to the overflow lot. You might try to park for free at Point Dume State Beach and make the walk from the other direction, though the parking lot is small.
Be careful taking the kids down the narrow trail on the face of the promontory. Check a good map site for directions on how to get to the State Park.
The best way to get to Paradise Cove from the San Fernando and Conejo Valleys is to take the Freeway 101 Kanan Road off ramp and go southward to Pacific Coast Highway. Turn left (eastward) at the light and go about a couple of miles to the traffic light at Paradise Cove Road. Turn right and proceed down the hill to the parking lot. If you are coming from the south, drive up (northward) from Santa Monica via Pacific Coast Highway to the traffic light at Paradise Cove Road and turn left. Follow the road down the hill.
After your beachcombing experience, share your thoughts and insights at my favorite hiking website: thishikingtrail.com.