by Nick Marshall
If you want to get as close as possible to our region’s iconic nature, you’ll be glad to know that Malibu camping is popular year-round thanks to our mild winters and warm summers.
In addition to deciding what type of camping spot you’re looking for (more on that in a minute), our top tip is to book ahead — because competition for spots is as fierce as it is on the famous surfing line-ups offshore. Also, make sure you stop into Rockwell Kitchen for a healthy snack on your way through town. You can even fill up your cooler for some tasty appetizers to share around the fire pit.
1. Point Mugu State Park
In the spirit of Southern California surfers, Point Mugu has a variety of campgrounds where you can grab your board and run to the ocean straight from your tent. The park itself covers 13,000 acres and has more than five miles of shoreline to explore. Come in spring and you may even spot a whale or two.
There are three campgrounds to choose from:
Thornhill Broome Campground
With camping right on the beach, it feels like your own slice of wilderness. But you’ll also find picnic tables, fire rings and token-operated showers if you want to hold on to some creature comforts. Thornhill Broome is a well-known summer hotspot so book well ahead. Pets on a leash are welcome.
Sycamore Canyon Campground
Due west of Thornhill Broome you’ll find Sycamore Canyon Campground, a pleasantly shady spot under the sycamore trees. There’s room for tents, trailers and RVs year-round. Head down to Sycamore Cove or nearby Zuma Beach for the surf or explore the network of trails and canyons inland.
La Jolla Campground
The walk-in, tent-only campground here is something of a backpackers’ haven under the oak trees. You’re close to the trailhead and immersed in wildlife. The amenities are simple but the views never cease to amaze.
2. Leo Carrillo State Park
Cross under the Pacific Coastal Highway from the campground at Leo Carrillo State Park and you’ll find 1.5 miles of beautiful beaches on your doorstep. A busy site in summer, it attracts a laid-back hiking and surfing crowd. Kick back in the evenings around the fire rings and picnic tables — there’s a camp store nearby for any last-minute provisions. If you’re camping in your RV, there are electrical hookups on all sites.
3. Malibu Creek State Park
Hot for hiking? Malibu Creek State Park is for you. You could spend days exploring the 15 miles of trails that wind among the gorges, pools and canyons in this 7,000-acre park. There’s even a popular hike up to the M*A*S*H film set. Pick this one for a shady campground against a mountain backdrop with all the amenities.
4. Malibu Beach RV Park
It’s not quite glamping, but the comfort level definitely goes up a notch at Malibu Beach RV Park. It’s the perfect stopover if you’re exploring the Pacific Coast Highway, with 142 full hook-up RV sites and 35 tent sites. Park up and savor your personal ocean view. You can also stock up on propane and other supplies in the store and refresh your summer wardrobe at the on-site laundry.
5. Malibu Lagoon State Beach
For campers who want to be close to the Surfrider Beach to catch some waves or the famous Malibu Pier for fishing, Malibu Lagoon State Beach campground offers simple tent camping on a first come, first served basis. It’s a quiet, secluded campground that is also a notable birdwatching hotspot.
Here’s the small print. All our local campgrounds get busy in summer so don’t count on heading out on a whim and finding a spot. On the flip side, the benign Mediterranean climate allows for year-round camping. Wherever you’re staying, you can book your stay through California State Parks.