A Day at Paradise Cove in Malibu
I recently took a family vacation to Los Angeles, at the suggestion of my girls. They’ve been to Europe a handful of times, yet somehow had never seen the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t have agreed more with them, that it was about time we finally head to the West Coast!
I lived in California in my early 20’s, in San Francisco, and used to make the trip down to L.A. all the time to visit my aunt and friends. The Pacific coastline is beautiful – stunning – and I’ve always wanted my kids to see it. Initially I had planned to take them from L.A. up through Big Sur, but with some important road closures still in effect, I decided to save Big Sur for another time. I figured Malibu, just 25 minutes north of L.A., would be the perfect spot to take them for their first West Coast beach day.
Thanks to my aunt, who we were staying with and who orchestrated much of the organizing and figuring out where would be the best spot in Malibu with the kids, we spent the day in a magical, serene cove called Paradise Cove. And Paradise it was…yes it completely lives up to the name!
Set in a scenic nook just off the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), Paradise Cove is a beautiful swath of beach surrounded by towering, sandstone cliffs that give it that extra Malibu-esque vibe. Because it’s a cove and somewhat contained, you can’t help but feel like you’re in your own little slice of Malibu cool, and, because it’s somewhat contained, it’s the perfect spot to take the kids.
In addition to its beauty and location, what makes Paradise Cove so ideal is its overall ease of spending the day there. There is a restaurant on the beach called the Paradise Cove Cafe, as well as beach beds, chaise lounges and umbrellas available for rent, lifeguards, restrooms, even sand toys for the kids to play with. If you want a carefree beach day with no hauling around of the cooler, food and drink, this is the place for you. We all know how the schlepping can sometimes get exhausting with the kids, and this time we wanted the total ease of having amenities. Yes, we wanted a beach with amenities – call us crazy!
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Of course, along with the amenities, came a price tag. Parking is a big one at $35 Monday – Friday, and $50 on Saturday and Sunday. However, if you eat at the café (spending $30), you can get up to 4 hours validated and pay $8. Over 4 hours, you have to pay the full parking price. We stayed more than 4 hours, but went on a Monday not on a weekend, so paid the $35. While that may seem high, we felt the overall experience and quality of the day was enough to justify it.
Here’s why: first of all, going to Paradise Cove and renting a couple of beds for the day, overlooking the Pacific, cliffs, and my girls splashing in the water all day, was exactly the kind of California day I was looking for. That’s how I wanted to spend my day. So I was ok with the price. My girls had a BLAST and still talk about Paradise Cove to this day. Because it’s not a huge beach, it was easy to keep track of them. My aunt and I lounged on the crisp, white beds (complete with towels) with our books in tow, gazing out and watching the girls.
Another thing I loved about the cove was the restaurant, the Paradise Cove café. I love this place! Set on the beach, apparently it’s the only spot in Malibu where you can eat with your feet in the sand. The overall vibe is surfer/bohemian, with fantastic looking tropical cocktails floating around on waiters’ trays. I expected the food to be not so good because it’s all about the scenery, but it was delicious. My Chinese chicken salad was one of the best I’ve had, and my aunt’s Cobb delish as well. The portions are so big that we easily could have shared a salad and still had left over. At first the prices seem high for lunch, but considering all that you get, it’s worth it. There is a fun kids menu as well, making it a place that caters to both families as well as California hipsters, surfers and beachgoers.
In front of the café, out on the sand, are a whole bunch of Adirondack chairs lined up for those who just want to have lunch and chill in the sun after. There are also terraces you can rent for groups throughout the property, making it a place where all types of beach-goers can hang. There is also a pier down the way, which we walked along and enjoyed gorgeous views of the cove, the ocean, the cliffs, and the never-ending sea. There was also a lot of activity on the pier with fishermen doing their thing, which made it fun for the girls.
Spending the day at Paradise Cove in Malibu was one of the best ways we could have experienced Malibu with the kids. It was beautiful, no stress, and one of our favorite days of our trip.
For other Malibu experiences, check out the popular Zuma, Point Dume and Surfrider beaches. I took my girls to Matador beach just to see it from atop, because it’s one of my favorite beaches in California, and the most dramatic of them all, but Matador doesn’t come up on too many lists for kids’ beaches. There are major drop-offs up high, and the route to get down to the beach can definitely mess with someone’s vertigo!
Point Dume has a beautiful state park and preserve which offers nice hiking and exploring. We only drove through it, but saving this one for next time.
On the way or way back, there is of course the Getty Villa. We didn’t have time to visit it, but we did go to the Getty Museum and explored the gardens, which my girls loved. Based on that, I’m sure they’d love the Getty Villa as well.
There are many other fun things to do with the family in Malibu, including the Malibu Library, Malibu Country Mart, playgrounds, eateries and more, but we were perfectly content spending the day at Paradise Cove, followed by a driving tour of more of the beaches and the Santa Monica canyons.
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