Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

The Santa Monica Mountains soar to the sky.  The wild beauty of the Pacific and its shoreline fills the senses.  Hike rocky shores below steep cliffs, unpopulated secluded beaches, and popular Southern California strands on this 3-day, 32-mile Walkabout. 

Start this Walkabout at Leo Carrillo State Beach near the Ventura/L.A. County line.  Day 1 (7.9 miles) hikes a series of state and county beaches separated by rocky points that may require some bouldering or a hike along the bluffs.  Except for the forces of erosion and a few human staircases, this protected shoreline has remained unchanged since this land was Chumash.

Flocks of shorebirds stop on their migration along the Pacific Flyway.  Pelican, gulls, and shore birds feed in the bountiful waters.  Harbor seals and sea lions rest on rocky outcroppings.  A school of dolphins may glide by, just beyond the surf, black dorsal fins cresting with each breath.

End the first day at Zuma County Beach.  Take a swim, and enjoy the people-watching.  Then check into the Malibu Country Inn, a refurbished classic 1950s style SoCal motel.  Your room may have a private deck and even a fireplace.

Day 2 (11.4 miles) hikes to Malibu.  Leaving Zuma, you ascend Pt. Dume, a towering ancient volcanic cone, 200 feet high, rising abruptly at the ocean’s edge.  A state nature preserve, this is a great place to pause and watch for gray whales as they migrate between warm Baja mating and calving lagoons and the rich feeding waters of the arctic sea.

There are challenging stretches when you will need to leave the shore to hike coastal bluffs or through the neighborhoods.  Our guide describes when to set out so you can hike around rocky points at low tide.  Round Malibu Point and stroll Surfrider Beach.  Explore the preserved coastal wetlands of Malibu Lagoon.  Pelicans, cormorants, ducks, coots, and night herons relax in the calm waters.

Set out on the graceful arc of Carbon Beach on Day 3 (12.4 miles).  Hike shore and sidewalk before reaching expansive state Beaches – Will Rogers and Santa Monica.  The Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier comes into view.  Hike along the water’s edge or stroll the South Bay Bicycle Trail.  Either way is a celebration of Southern California beach life – surfing, volleyball, swimming, sunbathing, Frisbees, rollerblading, kites, bikes, and dogs  End your day in Santa Monica.  Check out the tacky pleasures of the pier and the plentiful bars and restaurants on Third Street Promenade.

Enjoy fun inns and great dining.  This shoreline is wild, challenging, and beautiful - a treasure of bountiful sea life, rugged coastline, exquisite beaches and towering mountains.  Leave the car behind, and take a Walkabout on the Malibu Coast.


The Malibu Coast Walkabout is one of the multi-day hikes found in “Walkabout Malibu to Mexico: Hiking Inn-to-Inn on the southern California Coast.”  It can also be purchased as an individual guide.

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