Everything to See and Do at the Malibu Lagoon

by Erica Garza

Where the Malibu Creek pours into the Pacific, the Malibu Lagoon beckons with its wetlands, hiking trails, sandy beach and tidepools. While here, expect to share this pristine piece of coast with monarch butterflies, grunion and other wildlife species. The Malibu Lagoon is also beloved by surfers who have dubbed the beach “Surfrider,” and landed the beach in various classic surfer movies, such as Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo

Whether you’re a surfer, hiker or sightseer, there’s something to love at the Malibu Lagoon. Use our guide to discover everything you can do and see here, along with the best time of year to visit.

What to Do at the Malibu Lagoon

The Malibu Lagoon encompasses 22 lush acres of wetlands, vibrant gardens and a sandy beach, with “Surfrider” offering nearly a mile of ocean frontage. A big hit with surfers, including novices and pro surfers alike, the state beach was dedicated as the first-ever World Surfing Reserve, solidifying its surf prestige for the ages. Be sure to check the surf report first before packing up your board and wetsuit.

The nearby Malibu Pier is a popular fishing spot, while the sandbar and tidepools keep wildlife-lovers happy with more than 200 species of migrating and native birds like brown pelicans, shorebirds, hummingbirds and much more. The Malibu Lagoon is also a great vantage point to spot the migrations of monarch butterflies and gray whales, as well as the unique mating ritual of grunion. And around the rocky tidepools, take a peek at crabs and sea stars, but ideally when the tide is low. Check the tide chart for the Malibu Lagoon first.    

For hikers, the trail here is an easy one at just two miles, but it’s packed with history. Along with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and wildlife, you’ll have a chance to visit Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum too, which contains an inspiring collection of artifacts and photographs depicting the history of Malibu, spanning the early Chumash Indian era through the Spanish settlement.

When to Visit the Malibu Lagoon

The best weather in Malibu typically comes in the spring and fall with little rain and clearer skies. Surfers tend to hit the waves from September through November when the water is warmer and clearer, though you’ll probably still want to wear your wetsuit. Spring and fall are also best for spotting a diverse array of shorebirds.

The Basics: Parking, Restrictions and More

The Malibu Lagoon is located at 23050 and 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265. The beach is open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day, and parking costs $12 (all-day) or $3/hour. Dogs are only allowed in the parking lot. There are restrooms and showers here and picnic tables are located to the west side of Malibu Creek Bridge. 

What’s Nearby

Make a day of your visit to the Malibu Lagoon and don’t miss these other nearby adventures:

  • Malibu Pier
  • Surfrider Beach
  • Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum
  • Elevated comfort food at Rockwell Kitchen

Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in TIME, Glamour, Health, VICE and Good Housekeeping.