Mugu Beach at Point Mugu State Park

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Mugu Beach is the first publicly accessible beach area south of Naval Base Ventura County off of PCH, located adjacent to the prominent Mugu Rock. For the most part this is the most quickly accessible beach to Camarillo and Conejo Valley residents. There is paid parking ($12 for the day last time I was there) as well as parking available on PCH. Not a big beach, not a fancy beach, but quite convenient. The more popular Sycamore Cove Beach is just 3.3 miles southeast of Mugu Beach.

LOCAL AREA BEACHES STRETCHING FROM OXNARD TO MALIBU

Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

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Sycamore Cove Beach is located at 9000 Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu. This beach is one of the closest and easiest to get to from the Conejo Valley and Camarillo via Las Posas and PCH.

Sycamore Cove Beach in the background. Sycamore Canyon Campground entrance on left.

Sycamore Cove Beach in the background. Sycamore Canyon Campground entrance on left.

The beach is popular with families looking to barbecue and enjoy quick and easy access to the beach. There are also porta-johns and restrooms available. Very limited parking on PCH (read the signs carefully as you don't want to get ticketed) but plenty of paid parking available (generally $12 to $14 for the day).

Dogs on a leash are allowed in day use areas, campgrounds and beaches within Point Mugu State Park. Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or dirt roads.

A view of Sycamore Cove Beach from the south.

A view of Sycamore Cove Beach from the south.

On the northwest end of the beach you can walk underneath PCH to the other side of PCH, where Sycamore Canyon Campground is located. From there, you can take Sycamore Canyon up to Newbury Park (about eight miles).

PCH is above. You can safely get from Sycamore Cove to Sycamore Canyon under this bridge (though at high tide can be a challenge). Beats risking your life crossing PCH!

PCH is above. You can safely get from Sycamore Cove to Sycamore Canyon under this bridge (though at high tide can be a challenge). Beats risking your life crossing PCH!

Due north of Sycamore Cove Beach is Thornhill Broome Beach/Campground, which along with Sycamore Cove and Sycamore Canyon is part of Point Mugu State Park. Across from Thornhill Broome is the large sand dune that makes for some fun climbing.

The humongous sand dune walking distance from Sycamore Cove.

The humongous sand dune walking distance from Sycamore Cove.

Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630 for more information.

Public Beach Access Between Sycamore Cove and County Line Beach in Malibu

Between Sycamore Cove Beach at 9000 Pacific Coast Highway, which is part of Point Mugu State Park, and County Line Beach, across the street from Neptune's Net and Yerba Buena Road at 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, there are three or four access points to the beach.

Look for the brown "Coastal Access" signs.

The first access point is just over a mile southeast of Sycamore Canyon at about 10302 Pacific Coast Highway. There is parking on PCH and an old staircase adjacent to a Call Box.

The not particularly well taken care of steps to the beach at (approximately) 10302 PCH.

The not particularly well taken care of steps to the beach at (approximately) 10302 PCH.

Another access point is another 1/2 mile east is at approximately 9999 Pacific Coast Highway, near the juncture of Deer Creek Road. You'll see another brown Coastal Access sign and blue Call Box. Park on PCH and look for the staircase. I call this 26 Steps Beach.

Staircase at 9999 Pacific Coast Highway

Staircase at 9999 Pacific Coast Highway

The final southeast stretch of PCH between the access point above and Neptune's Net has even less distinguishable areas, but you can pull over to the side and park over most of this stretch (except when there are No Parking signs). 

CLICK HERE FOR PUBLIC BEACHES STRETCHING FROM OXNARD TO MALIBU

Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria Through Ventura County to Malibu

My kids and I love going to the beach but for many years we seemed to go to the same ones all the time. So I stopped by the Automobile Club and asked them if they had a brochure on all the local area beaches open to the public. They shrugged their shoulders and said no such guidebook existed. They handed me a fold out map, which was of no use to me as I wanted to know exactly how to get to these beaches, if they have restrooms, parking, etc.

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Then I started searching around for information and found bits and pieces in various locations that were marginally useful. So I decided to consolidate this information into one place where I could find out about where to go to the beach around Ventura County on up the coast to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara and down to Malibu. So I hope you find the following links helpful in finding local area beaches in Ventura County and surrounding areas!

Carpinteria to Ventura

Oxnard to Malibu

Santa Barbara Area Beaches

This took a lot of time to compile over 60 local area beach areas, so I truly hope you benefit from these lists! So enjoy and provide feedback if you have comments and/or additional information.

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At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Arroyo Burro Beach Park in Santa Barbara

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Arroyo Burro Beach is a beach park managed by the County of Santa Barbara. It is also referred to as Hendry's Beach, as the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach is located here at 2981 Cliff Drive. Decent sized parking lot with restaurant serving up moderately priced meals and drinks indoors/outdoors, seven days a week from 7:30am to 9:30pm. Arroyo Burro Beach is a sandy beach, good for surfing, boogie boarding and fishing, with an adjoining park with grassy areas with picnic tables. Restrooms available. From the 101 take Las Positas Road south to Cliff Drive. Turn right and travel 1/2 mile to the park entrance. More information at www.countyofsb.org/parks/day-use/arroyo-burro-beach.sbc.

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Arroyo Burro also has a great doggie park! Dogs are required to be on leash through the parking lot but there's an area where dogs can run around in the ocean. Self service dog wash stations provided by County Park. Details at www.countyofsb.org/parks/dog.sbc.

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Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu

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Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beachcombing, as well as tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. Giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds (though the campground was damaged by the Woolsey Fire of November 2018). The park also features back-country hiking.

Among the many great features of Leo Carrillo, the most engaging activity for me and the kids is the tidepools. They are exposed twice daily at low tide and provide hours of engagement with sea stars, anemones, mussels, sea slugs and more among the thousands of rocks on shore.

Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays. During the summer, children's programs are available.

Trails include Yellow Hill Fire Trail for panoramic views of the beach and the Channel Islands, and the steeper Nicholas Flat Trail, which brings you to a pond.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

There are 135 family campsites at Leo Carrillo with restrooms and token-operated showers (which accept ONLY one dollar bills...plan ahead). Visit ReserveCalifornia.com and search for “Leo Carrillo SP” to make reservations.

The park was named after Leo Carrillo (1880-1961), actor, preservationist and conservationist. Leo Carrillo served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years and was instrumental in the state's acquisition of the Hearst property at San Simeon. Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid, an early 1950's TV series.

Leo Carrillo State Park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. The park office phone is 310.457.8143. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616 for more information.

Parking is currently $12 in the parking lot for the day (or $3 per hour)...but free on PCH if you can find a nearby spot. There is plenty of parking spots available in the lot. After you park, you can walk in a tunnel underneath PCH to get to the beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campground and north beach (north of lifeguard tower 3). Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or south beach (south of lifeguard tower 3).

DIRECTIONS

The most direct way of getting to Leo Carrillo from the Conejo Valley is via Westlake Boulevard (CA-23) (aka Decker Canyon) south, which for some is a fun 14 mile drive, but for others, not so much. It is a bit winding, hilly, steep at many junctures. I take this route during daytime hours but coming home I'm not too keen on it. After getting to PCH, turn right and drive 2 1/2 miles to get to Leo Carrillo.

Another more popular, though less direct route is via Kanan Road. Either take Kanan Road straight down to PCH, turn right (west) on PCH about 9 miles to Leo Carrillo, or take Kanan to Encinal Canyon, which is about a 3 mile drive on PCH to Leo Carrillo.

Lastly, if you are in Newbury Park, you can take Potrero Road west to Las Posas down to PCH. In about 11 miles you will reach Leo Carrillo.

Rincon Beach Park at the Ventura/Santa Barbara County Line

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Rincon Beach Park is near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Carpinteria. Just take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway. Take Bates to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms.

If you make a left turn off of Bates, there's a separate parking lot for Rincon Point, part of Carpinteria State Beach, one of the most popular surf destinations in the world. There are a couple of restrooms on this side also, albeit not particularly pleasant ones to use.

Campfires are not allowed on the beach.

To learn more about Rincon Beach Park or to reserve the picnic table, visit www.countyofsb.org/parks/parks02.aspx?id=8078 or call 805.568.2465.

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains, stretching from Newbury Park on the north to five miles of ocean shoreline on the south. The park includes 14,000 acres of land with over 70 miles of trails popular with hikers, cyclists and runners.  It is truly an amazing place, with rocky peaks that include the prominent Boney Mountain State Wilderness that looks over the western Conejo Valley.

The sign in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park indicating you are entering State-managed Point Mugu State Park.

The sign in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park indicating you are entering State-managed Point Mugu State Park.

You can actually hike, run or bike from Newbury Park, from the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area managed by the National Park Service down to the ocean via Sycamore Canyon "Sycamore to the Sea," which is about an 8 mile trip one way. But do be aware - the initial 800 foot drop from Rancho Sierra Vista into the canyon via Big Sycamore Canyon Road is a bit more challenging coming back up.

The paved hill drops into the canyon via Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

The paved hill drops into the canyon via Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

There are four main canyons in Point Mugu State Park. Sycamore Canyon is perhaps the most well known, stretching practically the entire north/south length of the park, where at the bottom of the canyon you'll find the 58 space Sycamore Canyon Campground at 9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway (make reservations at ReserveCalifornia.com).

The Sycamore Canyon Campground connects to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, which is your access point to a day of fun and adventure in Point Mugu State Park trails.

The Sycamore Canyon Campground connects to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, which is your access point to a day of fun and adventure in Point Mugu State Park trails.

The La Jolla Valley Natural Preserve is on the western side of the park, with a main access point near Thornhill Broome State Beach at the Ray Miller Trailhead to the La Jolla Canyon Trail which connects with the Loop Trail. Another access point to La Jolla Valley is the Chumash Trail trailhead, a rocky, steep trail across from Point Mugu Beach. La Jolla Valley was purchased by the State of California in 1966 and was established as a Natural Preserve in 1972.

Wood Canyon is in the northwest section of the park, where you will find the north/south running Wood Canyon Fire Road, which connects to the Guadalasca Trail, among others.

Serrano Valley is accessible from the south off the Big Sycamore Canyon Fire Road/Trail about a mile north of the beach. A beautiful, serene, area, with a connection to the Old Boney Trail that takes you to the Danielson Monument in the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

The main beach areas in Point Mugu State Park, running southeast to northwest, are Sycamore Cove, Thornhill Broome and Point Mugu. Sycamore Cove is a fun day-use park popular with families for gatherings with BBQ grills and picnic tables. Learn more about beaches in the Malibu area at this link.

This is the PCH overpass where on low tide you can walk underneath here to get from Sycamore Cove Beach to Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds and hiking in Point Mugu State Park. In higher tides, this area can be dicey, so be careful.

This is the PCH overpass where on low tide you can walk underneath here to get from Sycamore Cove Beach to Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds and hiking in Point Mugu State Park. In higher tides, this area can be dicey, so be careful.

If you are looking for beachfront camping, try Thornhill Broome Beach, with just over 60 spots available for RVs and tents. No hookups here and only porta-johns available, but can't beat the views! And across the street you can't miss the Giant Sand Dune!

Day use parking at the various sites is available for $12. There is very minimal street parking at Sycamore Cove but plenty of street parking adjacent to Thornhill Broome Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campgrounds and beaches. Dogs are not allowed on the back country trails or dirt roads.

Keep driving northwest on PCH and you'll past the famous Mugu Rock and see Pt. Mugu Beach, which also has day use parking, with some parking on PCH. Learn more at the California State Parks website at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630.

Mugu Rock up ahead, driving north on PCH from Thornhill Broome.

Mugu Rock up ahead, driving north on PCH from Thornhill Broome.

Lastly, let's cover some of the highest peaks in Point Mugu State Park. The Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, ever so prominent from the Conejo Valley, is located in the Park. But Boney Peak itself, at 2828 feet, is actually in the Circle X Ranch area managed by the National Park Service, along with Sandstone Peak, the highest spot in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3111 feet.

Boney Mountain range overlooks the western Conejo Valley.

Boney Mountain range overlooks the western Conejo Valley.

Other peaks include Tri Peaks at 3010 feet, Laguna Peak (the peak which has equipment from Naval Base Ventura County below), La Jolla Peak and Mugu Peak

Map of Point Mugu State Park courtesy of National Park Service.

Map of Point Mugu State Park courtesy of National Park Service.

El Pescador Beach in Malibu

El Pescador Beach ("The Fisherman") has the distinction of being the closest beach in terms of auto mileage from central Thousand Oaks, located at 32900 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of the intersection of Decker Canyon Road and PCH. Along with La Piedra Beach and El Matador Beach, El Pescador is part of the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. 

El Pescador Beach is located about 2 1/2 miles east of Leo Carrillo State Beach and 5 miles west of Zuma Beach. Along with the other 2 beaches, El Pescador has a parking area (for a fee) and a porta-john and not much else. Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. There is also limited parking on PCH available, but be sure to look at the signs to make sure you don't park in a "no parking" zone.

Steep, uneven stairs lead you to the beach. Not particularly stroller friendly as a result, but it's not that far to go. This beach never seems to be particularly busy, so...shhh...don't tell anyone else about it.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Rincon Point in Carpinteria

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Rincon Point is home to one of the most popular surfing spots in the world. Accessible near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Downtown Carpinteria. Take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway towards the ocean. On the right is access to the City of Carpinteria's Rincon Beach Park and on the left is access to the Rincon Point parking area. Open 6am to 9pm daily, with a not-particulary-nice porta-john available in the parking area.

There is a trail that takes you to the beach area from the parking lot. The area is also surrounded by beach homes.

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A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park).

A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park).

THE BEACH BOYS INCLUDED A REFERENCE TO RINCON IN SURFIN' SAFARI:

At Huntington and Malibu

They're shooting the pier

At Rincon they're walking the nose

We're going on safari to the islands this year

So if you're coming get ready to go

Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Path - Pacific Palisades to Torrance

We love driving down to Will Rogers State Beach from time to time, bring the bikes and enjoy the Marvin Braude Coastal Bicycle Path along the Pacific Ocean. 

This fun 22 mile path takes you from Pacific Palisades as far as Torrance.  Depending on how far you want to go and if you have kids with you, there are so many spots to stop along the way. 

To get to Will Rogers State Beach from the Conejo Valley, take the 101 to Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road south to PCH, then about 9 miles down PCH to Will Rogers (17000 PCH), just east of Gladstones and Sunset Boulevard. Parking at Will Rogers varies based on when you go; I last recall paying $10.

The path doesn't actually start at Will Rogers Beach as it is a walking path only at this point. Ride the bike through the parking lot to the start of the bike path at Temescal Canyon Road. And, you're off!

From the start of the path, here are some approximate distances to destinations:

  • Santa Monica Pier - 3.2 miles
  • Venice Pier - 5.8 miles
  • Marina del Rey - 8.7 miles
  • Playa del Rey - 9.9 miles
  • Dockweiler Beach - 12.5 miles
  • Manhattan Beach Pier - 16.5 miles
  • Hermosa Beach Pier - 18.2 miles
  • Redondo Beach Pier - 20.4 miles
  • Torrance Beach - 22.3 miles (endpoint)

With younger kids, the Santa Monica Pier makes a perfect 6 1/2 mile round trip destination as you can stop, eat lunch and have some fun at Pacific Park, then ride back. Or kick it a few notches and ride to/through Venice Beach for all the action. 

Pacific Park up ahead

Pacific Park up ahead

There are plenty of restrooms water stops and of course non-stop BEACH to enjoy here, making this one of my favorite destination for bicycling with the family. And of course, you don't have to park at Will Rogers...you can park anywhere on PCH in and around the bike path to enjoy it.

Of course you do have to be careful of sand on the path, pedestrians/beach goers crossing and walking on the path, other cyclists, runners, roller bladers and crowds.  

Detailed map at file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dbh/docs/189949_2013-BIKEMAP85x11Web-Ready(highres).pdf

CLICK HERE FOR DOZENS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY BIKE PATHS BACK UP IN THE VENTURA COUNTY AREA!

El Matador State Beach in Malibu

Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach is made up of a number of cove or cliff-foot strands known as "pocket beaches" along the west end of Malibu, including El Pescador, La Piedra and El Matador. Let's take a closer look at El Matador Beach.

El Matador Beach is located at 32350 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of where Encinal Canyon Road intersects with PCH. A dirt path, then several sets of steps, leads to 18 acres of narrow, sandy beach with beautiful rock formations and caves. Because of the unique nature of these formations, undoubtedly you will encounter many folks taking photos.

Of particular interest at El Matador State Beach are the rock formations, sea stacks and caves 

Of particular interest at El Matador State Beach are the rock formations, sea stacks and caves 

A view east towards Point Dume from the bluffs above the beach.

A view east towards Point Dume from the bluffs above the beach.

There is a parking lot with limited room for 25 or so cars where you can pay $3/hour or $10 for all day (as of July 2017).  You can also park on PCH, but on the north side...for whatever reason parking is prohibited on the south side of PCH. This means you have to cross PCH, which can be a challenge.

Porta-johns are available. Dog are not allowed on California state beaches.

More information at www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=145.

CLICK HERE FOR OTHER PUBLIC BEACHES STRETCHING FROM OXNARD TO MALIBU

Not a lot of beach available when the tide rises in the evening, so do be careful.

Not a lot of beach available when the tide rises in the evening, so do be careful.

Surfer's Knoll Beach in Ventura

Surfer's Knoll Beach is located in Ventura adjacent from Ventura Harbor Village and as its name implies, is geared towards surfers, as well as others looking to relax and explore. Riptides are common here so be careful if you're a novice swimmer. There are restrooms and showers but no lifeguards on hand. There is a relatively small parking lot available at 1596 Spinnaker Drive; parking is free.

One great thing about this beach is that it is one of the few almost completely westbound facing beaches throughout the area, meaning...it is a great place to catch the sunset! And several of the Channel Islands - Anacapa and Santa Cruz.

Though this is a nice, sandy beach, a better beach for kids/families is just north up the road at Harbor Cove Beach, which is calmer water, protected by jetties.