Point Dume State Beach: A Secret Spot in Malibu

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve is one of the most beautiful secret spots on the coast of Malibu.

Last updated: May 22, 2024

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve | Roads and Destinations
Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve in Malibu

Explore the Coast: Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve

On the last weekend of April, wildflowers still covered Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve like a dense, mostly yellow blanket. Yet the seasonal spectacle was soon to end. An invisible hand of the summer heat started to hover over the Point Dume area, still uncertain, testing its new realm and showing more determination at Point Dume Beach hidden at the foot of the steep cliffs. 

The promontory of Point Dume Natural Preserve where spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, nearby Zuma Beach, and fenced houses of Malibu open up still remained a few degrees colder and windier. 

Watch our latest video: Point Dume, a Hidden Gem on the Coast of Malibu

Location and Direction to Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve 

Not that long ago, Point Dume was one of the best-kept secrets of Malibu. Its audiences consisted mostly of locals that wandered to the Point Dume Preserve to hike or walk their pets along a paved pathway, laid parallel to the peak. Malibu’s neighbors from Santa Monica or those who heard about the place from somebody who’d been here before would occasionally join their ranks. 

NOTE: As Point Dume is tucked behind the residential area in Malibu, stumbling upon it by accident is rarely the case. 

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve, one of the most beautiful California state parks, is located about 8 miles northwest of the social hub of Malibu. Drive on Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) for approximately 6 miles. Then turn left onto Zumirez Drive and continue via Wildlife Road, Fernhill Drive, and Cliffside Drive until you reach your destination.

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve | Roads and Destinations
Point Dume Natural Preserve at the end of April


Just a few years ago, we almost always parked at a small parking lot on Cliffside Drive, literally a few spots by the side of the road in front of Point Dume Natural Preserve. We haven’t done it in a long time. The two-hour parking lot is normally full now, with a car or two waiting to snatch the first open spot. 

We still manage to park on the streets. Although those off-street parking spots become fewer and farther away from the Point Dume area. Residents, used to serenity, are not pleased with increasing traffic. So whether they use legal actions or take things in their own hands, but now you can see entire streets marked with Tow Away signs. 

A larger parking lot is located at Westward Beach, next to Zuma Beach. You can get here by taking Cliffside Drive down west to Birdview Avenue or directly from Pacific Coast Highway and Westward Beach Road. It’s a paid parking area with lifeguards and restrooms. 

NOTE: Apart from a small parking lot, no facilities are available at Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve. 

Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hiking at Point Dume Natural Preserve


Poppy Trail

  • Length: 0.06 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Trailhead: Near the Point Dume parking lot on Cliffside Drive

Coreopsis Loop Trail

  • Length: 0.12 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Trailhead: To the right off the Point Dume parking lot on Cliffside Drive


We normally start our walking journey at Point Dume Natural Preserve at the Poppy trailhead and end it at the Coreopsis Loop Trailhead. Both of these paths diverge from the paved pathway near the parking lot, meander through the preserve, and swing all the way to the top of the promontory with the sweeping, 360-degree views of Zuma Beach, the ocean, and residential neighborhood behind Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve. 

Stairs to Point Dume State Beach

A good few months have passed since our last visit to Point Dume. New observation decks (as it appeared to us at first) were erected along the Poppy Trail during this time. We wanted to check them out. 

To our sincere amusement, it wasn’t just an observation platform, but a new, long staircase that led to Point Dume State Beach. For years, locals and visitors had used rusty, metal stairs nestled a little bit farther away along the trail.  

The “ancient” structure outlived its purpose. Many steps were missing. A few of the still existing were severely eroded by elements and time. Walking down these stairs wasn’t safe. Many elderly people and visitors with small kids wouldn’t even try to attempt this precarious descent, peering into the sandy stretch of land from the towering bluffs.

California State Parks’ authorities tried to close the stairs and barricade the entry to the beach from the Point Dume promontory. But yellow tape with black CAUTION wasn’t enough to keep regular visitors from enjoying the cliffs from the top and the bottom.

Today you can’t find even a trace of the old staircase that connected Point Dume Natural Preserve with Point Dume State Beach. The new stairs are three, maybe four times longer than the flimsy old structure, sturdier, and safe to walk down and up. 

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve | Roads and Destinations
Point Dume | Malibu’s secret beach
Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Archives from Point Dume

Point Dume State Beach

At the bottom of the staircase lies a narrow beach, mostly sandy when the tide is high. At low tide, the rocky ground right below the white sandy stretch is exposed. So you can walk “into” the ocean, search for tiny creatures hidden among algae-covered rocks, and watch seabirds foraging for food right off the shore. 

The guarding bluffs protect the beach from any winds. When the temperatures rise, you can hardly feel any breeze near the foot of the cliffs. It’s significantly warmer here than atop the Point Dume’s promontory where the winds are unrestrained and the views are unobstructed.

Watching Marine Wildlife

Watching marine wildlife off the coast of California is an activity for a day. Large, gregarious pelicans dive straight into the ocean, grab whatever swims near the surface, and gracefully land on the water with the prey in their long bills. 

Often seals and sea lions emerge from the water near Point Dume as if checking if there are any large areas (more than just a few rocks) where they could haul out as a group. There is none. Or at least not in this part of the California Coast. Large communities of pinnipeds can be found on beaches in La Jolla, San Diego, or nearly four hours north at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.  

My favorite marine animals to observe from Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve are dolphins and occasionally whales. The latter are a frequent sight between January and April when they migrate from Alaska to their winter feeding grounds in Baja California and then back to the Last Frontier, ready to relish the influx of fish in the colder home waters.

Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Low tide at Point Dume Beach
Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Point Dume: The view from the stairs

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