With views from every cliff, charming restaurants, and a relaxed pace, it’s easy to fall for Malibu. SmartFlyer New Jersey-based travel advisor Carly Robinson shares her insights into this region outside of busy LA, dishing, “Malibu has a vibe that’s chill, but still chic enough to attract celebrities and socialites. Its laid-back-surfer town feels and sweeping vistas are hard to beat!
By Carly Robinson
When in Malibu, stay on the beach, and feel California cool or chilled.
Malibu Beach Inn
Perched right above the beach, you can hear the waves crash from your room when staying at the Malibu Beach Inn. The property has a laid-back, simple aesthetic with a hint of coastal decor. With great restaurants close by alongside the beach, the location can’t be beaten. Rooms are quiet and provide for a relaxing getaway. Of course, there’s a spa allowing for a true R&R retreat.
The top accommodations are its one-bedroom suites that span just 600 square feet, but with unbeatable views. The hotel is a member of Virtuoso and The Leading Hotels of the World.
Known as the hotel that houses the restaurant that every celebrity and their mother (okay, maybe just the Kris Jenner) is posting on Instagram, Nobu Ryokan is a stylish Malibu oasis. This hotel has Japanese-inspired decor that is simple and sleek enough to work beautifully in this beach town.
It is located right next to Malibu Beach Inn, with tons of restaurants and the beach right there as well. If you somehow get tired of the beach, you can hang out in the garden by the fireplace as well. It is a small property with only 16 guest rooms. Eating sushi there is almost a requirement!
What to do
Malibu Wine Safari: Make a trip here a trip here if you’re looking for a completely unique experience in a stunning atmosphere. You can choose from different tour options, but the combination of getting to see the safari animals and do wine tasting is hard to beat. You get to feed animals (the friendly ones), see some others, and taste red and white wines that they grow in their on-site vineyards. Feeding Stanley the giraffe is definitely a highlight! The property is huge and has such gorgeous views of rolling mountains and cool rock formations. The tour guides are super friendly and witty. Just make sure to get a ticket in advance and show up with plenty of time before your tour starts to check-in.
El Matador State Beach: Talk about a stunning place! Being at El Matador feels like being in Portugal or some faraway place. The cliffs are massive and the rock formations that jut out of nowhere are so cool! Grab a blanket and head down the long and steep path to the sand, it’s so worth it.
Hike: There are lots of well-known hikes in Malibu that each has special qualities. Solstice Canyon hike is a popular one with different levels of difficulty. Check out the perennial waterfall, as long as the water is actually flowing from it (sometimes it gets dried out). Tuna Canyon Park and Charmlee Wilderness Park are some other frequently hiked spots, to name a few.
Nicholas Canyon Beach: A classic beach along a pretty U-shaped section. Park at the lot up top (you need to pay) and then climb down the stairs to put your toes in the sand. This is a great spot to surf!
Point Dume State Beach: A boardwalk, a beach, and sea lions all gather in this spot. It is a nature preserve that is located along a coastal bluff. Ascend the trail to the sand dune and take in the incredible views.
Surf: Speaking of surfing, if you are talented enough then you won’t want to miss out on surfing in this iconic destination. Some of the most popular surfing spots are Zuma Beach, Nicholas Canyon Beach, Surfrider Beach, Topanga Beach, Topanga Beach, and County Line.
Carbon Beach Club: Carbon Beach Club at Malibu Beach Inn is the place to be for lazy lunches and long dinners by the beach. Often frequented by locals, the menu drew inspiration from the Pacific and Mediterranean coasts with locally sourced ingredients from One Gun Ranch nearby and resident farmers’ market for a gorgeous seasonal menu.
Malibu Farms: This spot has the cutest seaside atmosphere with wooden chandeliers that sway in the wind. There are two Malibu Farms eateries located on the pier right next to each other, the more casual café and the restaurant. Both have a relaxed vibe that beg to be photographed. A diverse menu with some healthy, fresh options and of course, frosé. Malibu Farm Restaurant accepts reservations for dinner, but besides that, it’s first come first serve.
Nobu: The restaurant is where Hollywood and Malibu collide, it’s a place to see and be seen. Sushi fans will also rejoice, as they serve some of the best! It’s located above the beach with great views of the ocean, so even if you go for cocktails and skip the meal, it’s worth it. Enlist your travel advisor to help you make a reservation in advance.
Geoffreys: The go-to white tablecloth, upscale spot in Malibu (above). With international cuisine with coastal views its a perfect spot for a romantic dinner.
Malibu Seafood Cafe: This spot makes fast-food seafood a cool thing. Look no further than their line for proof. If you love good seafood in a super casual atmosphere, this place is for you. Just walk up and order at the window!
Malibu Burger Co: Here you’ll find all of the classic burger options, as well as plant-based choices with vegan cheese and various bowls.
Drinks and Bits
Before dinner – for sunset – or after, here are some of Malibu’s best spots to stop for a libation or a snack.
Moonshadows: This is a seaside spot (below) with great views! Perfect for a daytime drink and some grub.
Rosenthal Wine: Loved this wine bar in a cute outdoor space. They have events, including live music, so make sure to check out their calendar.
Malibu Wines: The sister property to Malibu Wine Safari, at Malibu Wines (below), you can keep drinking your favorite wine that you tasted on the safari with just a quick shuttle ride. It’s definitely off-the-beaten-path, but you can go there just for wine tasting as well. They have live music some evenings and a food truck that frequently makes an appearance.
Nobu: This spot has already shown up in this list a couple of times, but there aren’t many nightlife places in Malibu and this is a good one to grab a drink. Be warned that even they don’t stay open late.