Zuma Beach (Malibu, CA)

On Thursday we received a call from Chris’s cousin saying that he was in California and would love to get together! We hadn’t seen him in forever and just happened to have a fairly open weekend (rare for us) so we threw together a super last minute road trip and headed down to Malibu! I chose Zuma Beach as the meeting place because it was close to LA (where they were staying) but allowed us to avoid LA traffic and ride the PCH on our way home.

The night before we grabbed a hotel in Valencia (because it was cheapest) which meant that we were approaching Malibu through the mountains. It was an incredibly beautiful drive and I highly recommend taking this route (Kanan Road) for the views!

Entering Malibu via Kana Road
You’ll want to stop at any scenic overlooks you find on Kanan Road! Gorgeous!

We arrived first at Zuma Beach and got to pick the spot to set up camp. The parking lot itself was 1.6 miles long and there was plenty of parking and beach space all the way down. Bathrooms and food stands were spaced along the beach, but we ended up choosing to be next to the Malibu Makos Surf tents. The kids love to watch the surfers and we were interested in grabbing some lessons for Chris and his cousin.

We paid the $15 parking fee and ended up with a great spot only steps from our tent. Chris’s cousin parked along the highway for free. Either way, there was plenty of parking to be had. says Zuma Beach has enough parking spots for the Super Bowl!

The kids ready to play at Zuma Beach
The kids didn’t waste any time heading to make sand castles!

The one issue I had with this area, is there were not very many options for lunch! The snack shacks on the beach were cash-only but provided ATMs inside. I was willing to pay the $3.50 ATM fee, but the ATM turned out not to work anyway. If you want to get lunch on the beach, bring cash!

After the snack shack failed me, I took the kids in the stroller over to Kristy’s Village Cafe. The food was good and the service was exceptional for a take-out order, but it cost a lot more than I usually spend on lunch. Next time I’ll just pop into¬†Vintage Grocers next door and pick up food from the deli.

The boys were already in their surfing lessons by the time we returned with the food, so HJ and I had our picnic while K snoozed in the stroller. I had planned on asking HJ to nap after lunch, but she was so happy in the sand I just let her be.

Chris surfing
Chris is the surfer in this photo! This was his first time surfing and he was able to get up a bunch of times! He is annoyingly good at almost everything.

Before you get to Zuma Beach, you should know there are signs up everywhere (at least in front of the stretch of beach where we were) saying this water is for surfing ONLY. No wading, no swimming, no body boards. It sounds overly cautious, but strong rip tides can develop here. The kids did a little ankle wading but mostly stayed on the beach building sand castles. There were tons of nice rocks to decorate with!

Building a sand castle together on Zuma Beach
Building a sand castle together!

The boys had a great time during their surf lesson. Malibu Makos charged $200 for an hour lesson for the 3 of them, but it lasted closer to 2 hours! They were all able to get up and catch at least one wave and they were all famished when they got out of the water. We’d definitely recommend them and they made reservations and payment really easy.

Posing with the surfboard!
Surf lessons are a great activity to do with visitors! So very “California”!

Overall we had a really great experience on a beautiful beach! The ample parking is a huge plus and next time we may bring a larger cooler and just leave it in the car. It was that easy to go back and forth.

This also became the most Southernly California beach we’ve visited as a family! That won’t last long though, you know we like to go exploring!

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