Put-In/Takeout: Zuma Beach/Surfrider Beach or Malibu Lagoon
Distance: Almost 10 miles
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Time of Year: July-September
Wind Direction: NW, WNW
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About the Run: This idyllic downwinder is a must-do for Southern California paddlers. The route is roughly 9.7 miles of scenic beauty running from Zuma Beach to the Malibu Pier.
The starting point is at Zuma Beach near lifeguard Tower 4. Zuma is located at 30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. The beach has a large amount of onsite parking accessible by paying a $10 entrance fee. Alternatively, there is a drop off lot immediately before the entrance kiosk where you can unload boards and carry them approximately 150 yards to the water.
Launch near the tower and head southwest. The first significant landmark is Point Dume. Point Dume is a California State Park and well worth a visit in its own right. The point is spectacular from the water and one can safely paddle between the rocks protruding from the water off the point and the rocky cliff. From Point Dume it is literally a straight shot down the coast to the Malibu Pier.
After Point Dume, the coastline curves inward mimicking two elongated crescents lying end to end. Paddle in a relative straight line along the top of the crescents from Point Dume towards Malibu Bluffs Park. The park itself is difficult to distinguish from the water. As a reference point, look for wide green lawn of Pepperdine University’s campus along the hill on the east side of the Pacific Coast Highway. The campus’ tall white bell tower can be seen for miles. Paddle past the Malibu Colony, an exclusive row of beachfront homes and just as the houses end the coast curves inward once more towards the Malibu Pier. Paddle past the world famous Surfrider Beach at Malibu Beach State Park and in for a soft finish in the generally placid water to the left of the pier.
Great eats in the area include the Paradise Cove Beach Café at 8128 Pacific Coast Highway which serves excellent Huevos Rancheros for breakfast as well as a large selection of traditional bar and grill lunch and dinner items. You will have to pay to park at Paradise Cove, but the café offers validation for a more than sufficient time to linger over your meal. The on-the-beach locale is reminiscent of Hawaii, complete with indoor and on-the-sand seating. For fantastic fresh seafood, check out the Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Café at 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy. If you are in the mood for a burger, fries and a shake, then stop in at Ruby’s Diner on the Malibu Pier for a classic American diner experience.
There are three primary parking options at the finish: the first is along the road where one can find limited free parking. These spots are desirable and typically go quickly. Second, is in the county lot along “The Wall” at Surfrider Beach, where fees range from $6-$10. The third option is on the north side of the Malibu Lagoon at the Malibu Beach State Park for $10.
Nearby Rentals: Poseidon Stand Up Paddle at 1654 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, (310) 694-8428. Owned by brothers Christian and Matt Shubin, Poseidon hosts the Tommy Zahn Memorial Paddle Race each July along this route. The guys do a fantastic job at organizing the event and it should be on everyone’s must-do list for next year.