Visiting This Stunning California State Beach Is Worth The Rocky Trek To Get There

There are a lot of beaches to choose from in Southern California. Surfers love them for their waves, and swimmers and sunbathers alike can spend an entire day there. Lots of movies and TV series are shot on their shores. You can catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming by or a pod of pelicans overhead. With the entire coastline to choose from, how do you pick the right beach? 

We've got a suggestion for you — check out El Matador State Beach. It's in Malibu, home to many celebrities and public personalities, so you may even see some familiar faces when you go. While there is a bit of a rocky climb down a bluff to get to it, don't let that stop you. It's absolutely beautiful, plus, the climb means it's rarely crowded. 

It's fairly easy to drive by the small posted sign on the water side of PCH, so keep an eye out or use navigation. It's worth it. The beach is right off of the famous Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) that runs next to a lot of the California coast.  Part of California's Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Park, El Matador is one of three "pocket beaches" including El Pescador and La Piedra. 

What to know about El Matador beach

If you visit El Matador,it's possible to catch a photo shoot or filming session. You might recognize the sea stacks — rock formations that look like towers — from films like "The Notebook" where Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) play on the beach. Or it may look familiar after watching the season 2 episode of "Euphoria" where Jules discusses her sexuality. 

Keep in mind that on the weekends, PCH can have heavy traffic. As we mentioned, though, El Matador is often less crowded than other beaches in the area like Zuma, Point Dume, or Leo Carrillo. The parking lot is at the top of the bluff. There is a fee — trust us, do not forget to pay it. The lot is monitored. 

To get down to the beach, you'll follow a steep-yet-climbable rocky path, which is quite lovely before you hit the sand. That means that it's worth keeping your beach items to a minimum because you have to climb back up as well. If you plan to spend the day, it's worth bringing a picnic backpack so your hands are free if you need balance during the trip down to the shore. If you're not used to Southern California sun, know you can get a sunburn without sunscreen, any time of year. Mornings and evenings can be chillier than you might expect, so bring something to wrap up in. Most importantly, there is a bathroom up by the parking lot.

Things to do

There are rock arches and even caves at El Matador beach, which you can explore at low tide, and you can walk along the shore to La Piedra and Lechuza beaches. The beach has beautiful sunsets, and you'll often see people kitesurfing against the warming color of the sky. You can definitely swim here, and people often snorkel by the rocks. Keep an eye on water conditions, though, because it can get rough here and there with riptides. There are lifeguards, but not all the time. 

Whales can sometimes be spotted at El Matador. You might see seals or sea lions in the water or on the shore (sometimes with their babies) but don't touch them. They're protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and you can be fined or imprisoned. There are sand crabs, starfish, sea anemones, and all sorts of other creatures around. Though there is no place to grab food at this beach, it's not far from Malibu Country Mart shopping center, which is about 12 miles southeast on PCH. It's got a great sandwich shop called John's Garden for all your picnicking needs. 

Finally, El Matador is a wonderful beach, but it's not for your furry companions. If you want to enjoy the beach with your dog, head up less than four miles to the northwest for Leo Carrillo Beach, where they're welcome on a leash.