Hidden Malibu: Point Dume State Preserve

You don’t have to be a travel expert to know that Malibu is one of Southern California’s most prestigious neighborhoods. With mansion-topped hillsides fronting the crashing surf of the Pacific, Malibu makes many of us wish that we could be hedonistic jingle writers a la Two and a Half Men.

If you don’t have a few spare million to drop on a palatial estate in the sunset belt, fret not as many of the city’s natural attractions are completely free of charge. All you need to do is get behind the wheel of a rental car – and escape from Los Angeles.

Depending on the traffic (which can be of legendary proportions in SoCal!), it takes around an hour or so to travel from downtown LA to Malibu via the Pacific Coastal Highway. And when you do arrive, be sure to buck the trend and skip out on the commercialism and the crowds at Zuma.

Your destination: the hidden gem that is Point Dume State Preserve.When this humble blogger arrived in Point Dume in late February, he was greeted by fields of yellow wildflowers terracing up the hillside. Up above, pelicans were dipping and diving. Down below, pods of dolphins were crashing in the surf.

(A picture of paradise by all accounts!!)

The reserve lies at the end of Dume Road, which provides access to dozens of gated complexes before terminating at the sea. From the free parking lot, walking paths wind through the reserve, and lead down the cliff sides to scenic viewpoints.

At the bottom, you’ll find sheltered tidal pools swarming with tiny fish, crabs, starfish and sea urchins. Migrating whales have also been known to stop by, as well as the occasional seal or two. There are also a few hidden coves down at this level that are perfect for snuggling up with a loved one.

The fun doesn’t stop there. On the contrary, Dume Point also attracts surfers and stand-up paddlers alike. If you’ve got the proper gear and a reliable buddy, you can even try your hand at technical climbing along the sea cliffs.

Back at the top – on a clean and smog-free day – you can see the vast sweep of Santa Monica Bay to the south, the Malibu Coast and Catalina Island to the north, and the inland Santa Monica Mountains. Stop by in the late afternoon for arguably one of SoCal’s best sunsets.

Any hidden spots in greater Los Angeles that you’d care to share with us? Feel free to chime in and let us know what we’ve been missing!

** All images are original photographs produced by this blogger **