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El Matador State Beach

Attractions, Beaches Malibu
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
We're thankful to have beaches that could (and do) grace travel agency posters.
Photograph: Amy Mew, Courtesy Wikimedia We're thankful to have beaches that could (and do) grace travel agency posters.

Small, beautiful and dominated by rocky outcrops, El Matador looks not unlike a European beach. Six miles north of Malibu and 25 miles from Santa Monica, it's past just past Leo Carrillo Beach, accessible via a steep gravelly path. Wear shoes and don't bring too much gear. There are no lifeguards or other facilities, so you should be able to find some privacy on the beach; spread your towel in the cupped hands of the rocks—watch out for high tide. Arriving early or staying late should reward you with a memorable dawn of sunset. El Matador and nearby El Pescador and La Piedra beaches collectively form the Rober H Meyer Memorial Beaches. All three are worth a visit. Pony up $8 in the self-pay parking lot or snag a spot on PCH.


Venue name: El Matador State Beach
Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy
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Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

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This beach offers beautiful views at sunrise and sunset! However, the amount of beach to lay out on or explore can be limited during high tide. It is also a popular photography location and there is almost always a shoot going on - which can be distracting, but also fun to watch! Parking is limited at a single dirt lot located at the top and also requires a fee; but, if you're an early bird or just plain lucky, you may be able to snag one of the limited spots located on the east-side shoulder of PCH. Regardless of parking and photo-shoots, this beach is a must-see with its unique sea caves and large rock formations. 


This is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California as far as landscapes go, but it's definitely not the best spot to spend an afternoon laying out in the soon. There aren't any facilities (other than a port-o-potty), you need to hike down a bunch of steps and the beach, depending on the tide, is just a small sliver of sand. But the rocks and caves here are just stunning. Come around sunset and you absolutely won't regret it.


El Matador is a great place to escape the level of crowds that come with most Malibu beaches, but the rocky beach can limit the amount of space to spread out on a sunny afternoon. You'll almost always see a photo shoot going on here (those rocks and caves!), and an occasional topless sunbather. Get there early to score parking!