Top 8 Hidden Gems in and near Malibu

Longing for a different side of the coastal city? Check out these 8 hidden gems in and near Malibu.

Last updated: May 14, 2024

El Matador State Beach – A Valuable Treasure in Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in and near Malibu: Explore Malibu like a local

8 of the Best Hidden Gems You Must Visit in the Malibu Area

Malibu, a 21-mile strip of the California Coast, is one of the most expensive beach cities in the USA. The city has gained its enormous popularity by virtue of Hollywood movie stars, top athletes, pop stars, and entertainment executives. The majority of them reside in oceanfront homes and enjoy beach activities from their own backyards.

Picturesque ocean views further contribute to Malibu’s reputation as the ultimate beach destination. I, however, insist that there are a lot of places to explore in and around Malibu, farther away from the Pacific. Without further ado here are 6 hidden gems in the City of Malibu and its surrounding areas that not all locals know about.


1. El Matador State Beach

Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Long, narrow stretches of white sands, abundant sea caves, steep cliffs, rock formations, sea stacks, clear water… El Matador State Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Pacific Coast. Thanks to its astounding scenery, this Malibu beach entices all kinds of photographers and swimsuit models. During sunset, El Matador itself becomes the biggest muse and inspiration for outdoor and nature lovers.

Due to its remote location and small parking lot, the beach rarely gets overcrowded. Access to this hidden gem in Malibu, however, is not that easy. It starts with a narrow trail at the parking lot. The path eventually goes down until it meets steep stairs that take the beachgoers to the ocean.

TIP: The secluded beach in Malibu is free to visit. Parking fee, however, is $8. You can park for free along Pacific Coast Highway (make sure to avoid no-parking zones) and walk to the beach. Although it’s tempting, especially for Malibu residents, dogs are not allowed in this little hidden spot along the coast.

El Matador State Beach | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in and near Malibu: El Matador State Beach

2. Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Address: 17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is one of the finest hidden gems near the City of Malibu. In fact, even some of the oldest residents of Malibu don’t know about the existence of this serene paradise.

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine encompasses a main temple and beautiful gardens with a big lake in the middle. Like a magnet, the gardens allure with their lush greenery, opulent flowers, and man-made waterfalls. If you want to meditate, head to an old Dutch windmill that now serves as a Chapel for Silent Meditation.

How to Visit: The secret lake gardens near Malibu are open to visit free of charge Wednesday through Sunday. Prior reservation, however, is required to accommodate all visitors with the limited parking spaces.

Hidden Gems in Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems near Malibu: The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

3. Malibu Creek State Park

Address: 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302

It may sound funny but none of our trips to Malibu Creek State Park was planned. Trying to find new, off-the-beaten-path places to explore near Malibu and Santa Monica, we would stumble upon a side road with a sigh that stated the name of the park. The rest of that trip would be a story to unfold.

And we did collect some of our cherished memories in this hidden gem outshined by other favorite places in Malibu. Home to the actual film set of the classic M*A*S*H TV series, Malibu Creek Park is a gorgeous place off the tourist path intersected by scenic hiking trails and gurgling Malibu Creek and dotted with wide meadows, secluded caves, and large rocks to climb on.

How to Visit: There is no entrance fee to visit this secret place in the Malibu area. Parking fees, however, range from $3 per one hour to $12 per day, per car.

4. Malibu Hindu Temple

Address: 1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302

Even if you don’t care about Asian temples in the Greater Los Angeles Area, you can’t not acknowledge the impeccable architecture of Malibu Hindu Temple. Although the name of the temple suggests that it belongs to the Malibu area, this hidden house of worship is part of Calabasas.

The temple complies with the finest South Indian architectural traditions. On top of that, it gathers devotees of many Hindu deities. It’s unusual, as in Hinduism each god deserves its own house or temple.

The walls of this secret spot on the outskirts of Malibu impress with engraved figures of Hindu gurus and other religious characters. An inner courtyard presents sculptural artwork in the form of the most significant Hindu deities. It’s by far one of the most extravagant hidden gems you can find near Malibu.

Hindu Temple, Asian Destinations in Los Angeles  | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in and near Malibu: Malibu Hindu Temple

5. King Gillette Ranch

Address: 26800 West Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302

King Gillette Ranch is one of the most secluded hidden gems near Malibu. The 588-acre property got its name from its former owner, razor-blade tycoon King Camp Gillette.

The ranch consists of the Visitor Center, an enormous Spanish Revival mansion, and a big park with a large pond. Although the building keeps its doors closed, the park invites the visitors from all walks of life. So rest assured there are plenty of picnic tables and benches for impromptu picnics or lunches.

While photographers find the beautiful scenery of this secluded spot irresistible, frequent visitors often get off the beaten path and enjoy a few short trails perfect to escape the beach culture of Malibu. Some of these hiking journeys can take you to Inspiration Point, a knoll with the gorgeous views of the surrounding area.

How to Visit: The hidden ranch north of Malibu is open daily, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. A two-hour free parking is available at the Visitor Center. If you stay longer, the parking fee is $7.

Hidden gems near Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in and near Malibu: King Gillette Ranch

6. Paramount Ranch – One of the Hidden Gems near Malibu Destroyed by Fire

Address: 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301

You should’ve heard the word “Paramount” at least once. The majority of people associate this name with Paramount Pictures, a classic Hollywood studio. But wait, it’s not the only “Paramount”. Somewhere in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, there is a secret cowboy town. Its name is Paramount Ranch. And yes, it’s another hidden gem near Malibu you can’t miss.

The working movie ranch served as a movie set for Hollywood movies, specifically Westerns, during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Such American classics as “Gunsmoke”, “American Sniper”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, and many others came to life at the ranch.

After the era of the Western films ended, the hidden cowboy town also lost its popularity. Today Paramount Ranch with its Western-like buildings still remains one of the most interesting places near the City of Malibu.

Update: Unfortunately, the Malibu area had almost entirely lost this secret place in the Woolsey Fire in 2018. We found only a church and an old train station intact during our latest visit. The National Park Service and local communities proposed to rebuild four other structures. The renovating project started in spring 2023. And it’s predicted that the favorite hidden gem near Malibu will be fully restored by fall 2024.

Hidden gems near Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in and near Malibu: Paramount Ranch

7. Sycamore Cove Beach

Our newly-discovered hidden gem on the California coast, Sycamore Cove Beach sits 20 miles north of Malibu. A place of subtle coastal beauty, the beach is shielded from scenic Highway 1 by picturesque outcroppings. To the right of it, a secret tunnel runs under the road and connects the cove with Sycamore Canyon and the rest of Point Mugu State Park, one of the most beautiful state parks in California.

TIP: The secluded beach in the Malibu area is equipped with fire pits and picnic tables. The number of picnic spots is limited, however. So the early bird definitely gets the fattest worm here.

Hidden gem in Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems near Malibu: Sycamore Cove Beach

8. Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve

One of the most secret hidden gems of Malibu, Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve is tucked behind a residential area 2 miles off Pacific Coast Highway. Or at least it was one of the most beautiful secluded beaches that mostly locals from Malibu and Santa Monica had the privilege to enjoy a few years ago.

The area is more visited now. In fact, a small parking lot (about 10 spots) with two trailheads is almost always busy. Yet compared to other places in Malibu, Point Dume is still a hidden gem where you can escape the bustle and bustle of the big city by immersing yourself in nature.

Whether you long for ocean views that promise glimpses of California marine wildlife or long walks on the beach protected by towering bluffs, this secret spot along the coast of Malibu goes above and beyond to fulfill your wishes.

TIP: If the small parking lot in front of one of the most scenic hidden gems in Malibu is busy, head west to Birdview Avenue and then toward Westward Beach. Here you will find a large, paid parking lot that will surely have an open spot for you.

Hidden gems in Malibu | Roads and Destinations
Hidden gems in Malibu: Point Dume State Beach

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