There is no shortage of beaches in California. There’s basically a beach for every day and occasion. But, for me, Leo Carrillo State Beach easily takes the award for best beach around. I found out about this beach the first year I moved to Los Angeles because I filmed a movie about surfing there. The beautiful scenery of the beach stole my heart, and I longed to come back for the sunny days off that I got.
Located up near Malibu, it’s far more interesting than the flat beaches like Zuma Beach, Redondo Beach, and Santa Monica. Leo Carrillo is special because, as long as you visit when the tide is low, you can explore sea caves, climb on rocky terrain, and hide out in your own rock-surrounded beach pockets. You can also climb up on a hillside trail to overlook the beach, the sea, and the beach-goers. There are so many varying terrains in one beautiful beach.
When visiting Leo Carrillo, I can almost always find parking right at the GPS marker of the beach on the Pacific Coast Highway. Guests can park on the highway shoulder there, and, as this beach is less popular, there’s usually parking. From there, you will find wooden steps that take you down a grassy hill to the sand of the beach. (And if you’d rather park in the lot, you can pay to park in the lot just down the street from the marker on PCH, as well.)
At the area of the beach where I liked to enter just off of PCH, you will find rocky terrain that the waves crash up against. As you walk towards the right along the sea, the beach becomes less rocky and more sandy. Walk along the sea until you reach a rocky face, and here is where you will find the trail. Walk the trail up over this rocky area, and you will find a set of stairs down to your left that will take you down to a pocket of beach hidden within a rocky structure. You can visit this area of beach or continue down to a few more pockets of beach covered in rocky surfaces.
A Beach for Everyone
This first beach pocket is special, for if you visit during low tide and step foot in the water on its left side, you will find a sea cave that you can climb in. If you continue to the right instead, you will find a long, large cave structure to walk through. It’s a beach for adventure lovers! You can spend all day looking for and exploring sea caves.
If adventure isn’t your thing, there are plenty of flat areas at this beach to sunbath on. Some of the pockets hidden in the rocks offer shade for those who don’t love sunbathing, too. Or, you can take a walk along the trail leading you across the beach. Or, if you are a people watcher, sit up by the trail on the rocks above the sea and watch surfers and beach-goers alike. There are also places above where you can hop rocks and stand on the rocks as the waves crash into them.
Thanks to my love of adventure, this truly is my favorite beach. It’s not as busy as most, it’s more fun, as you can explore, and you can find shade with the rocks while still playing in the sea.
And if you have pets, there’s a beach entrance to Leo Carrillo just slightly further down PCH that is not only flat but also welcoming to your pets, too.
So, if you’re looking for a beach with character, be sure to visit Leo Carrillo! It’s absolutely my favorite beach in Southern California.