Malibu has 27 miles of coastline. Technically, it is all open to the public. The problem, however, is that many homeowners have illegally asserted their claim to much of this public property by blocking access to the beach itself as well as posting signs stating that the beach in front of their homes is private property.
There is only half truth to this. California State Law recognizes only part of the beach in front of these homes as private. According to the California Coastal Commission, “the state of California owns… the land seaward… of what is called the mean high tide line.”
In short, this means that the public has access to the wet sand, not the dry sand above the tide line. So one can walk along the beach, as long as the sand is wet beneath your toes.
Sneaky home owners, however, have built houses and property lines so close to each other that it is nearly impossible to reach that wet sand. And if you manage to do so, local security guards have been known to falsely tell beach goers that they are not allowed anywhere on the sand.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my life and have never swam at a Malibu Beach because of these challenging logistics and bothersome locals. But now, a private group of Urban Rangers, as they call themselves, have taken it upon themselves to educate the public about the beach laws as well as ways to access the beach itself. You can visit their website and learn all about it, as well as download a map detailing all the public access routes.
Surf’s up, Malibu!
Related: Los Angeles destination guide