As the world continues to find ways to adjust to the new normal, getting out and exploring the bounties of nature has become increasingly important — and there’s no better place to do so than Malibu, where year-round sunshine and pleasant weather offer an idyllic setting for outdoor activities at any time.

With breathtaking beaches framed by the Santa Monica Mountains and hidden coves not far from Malibu Beach Inn, water enthusiasts especially have ample opportunities here to take in some of the best scenery in Southern California.

One of the most accessible and enjoyable ways to experience this coastal beauty is on a kayak. Easy to learn, naturally in line with social distancing guidelines, and opportune for all ages and ability levels, this eco-friendly sport is becoming increasingly popular for locals and visitors alike. Malibu’s picturesque coves and 21 miles of coastline offer some truly world-class kayaking opportunities, with a variety of areas that cater to every level of experience.

Unlike water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving, kayakers don’t need to seek out the “perfect” spot to enjoy the open waters — no matter where you paddle, there’s always something to be discovered, including several spots that are favorite destinations of locals in Malibu. However, there are a few places around Malibu that provide especially incomparable access to the area’s most beautiful and intriguing views. To help you plan your aquatic adventure, we’ve selected six of our favorite locations along the shoreline, plus our go-to shop for rentals, insider tips, and lessons.

Where to Rent, Learn, and More

Since 1972, Malibu Surf Shack has served locals and guests alike with advice, rentals, lessons, and more for all water sports. The shop overlooks the world-famous Surfrider Beach and is Malibu Beach Inn’s primary outfitter for guests when it comes to renting kayaks. In addition to rentals and lessons, Malibu Surf Shack also offers two-hour kayak tours that include sights such as Malibu Pier, the Malibu Lagoon, and, more often than not, special guest appearances by the abundance of marine life in Malibu, including dolphins, sea lions, and otters.

History Up Close at Malibu Pier

Malibu Pier in California

For history-loving kayakers, Malibu Pier is one of the best places to immerse yourself in Malibu’s fascinating past as you paddle. Originally intended to support the ranch of Frederick Hastings Rindge, the pier was built in 1905 and served as a hub for ships carrying loads of grain, fruit, building materials, and other ranch necessities. Just west of the pier you’ll spot the historic Adamson House, built by Rhoda Rindge and her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson in 1929 as their beach house. The Spanish Colonial Revival home is a National Historic Site, a California Historical Landmark, and a California State Park.

Today, the pier serves as the epicenter of activity in Malibu. Surfers flock to the area for the excellent waves, and stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers glide along the shallows of Surfrider Beach. From your perch in the water, watch as sport fishers cast their lines into the water from the pier in search of halibut, mackerel, bat rays, and thresher sharks.

Zuma Beach

A sunset at Point Dume in Malibu, California

Best suited for more experienced kayakers, Zuma Beach is a 1.8-mile stretch of white sand and surf that can be on the rough side. It is a perennial favorite of residents and visitors for its top-notch surfing, windsurfing, and fishing conditions, and is also a fantastic place to watch grey whales as they begin their winter migration in December.

Leo Carillo State Park

Leo Carillo State Park
Photo: Traveler100 / Wikimedia Commons

For those seeking a more tranquil experience, head to Leo Carillo State Park. Named after the actor, preservationist, and conservationist, the park has a mile and a half of idyllic shoreline with caves, tidepools, and reefs that are favorites of Malibu scuba divers and kayakers alike for exploring. Its rock arches make for breathtaking photos (especially at sunset) and its quiet waters offer a peaceful respite.

Point Mugu

Point Mugu

If you’re feeling especially adventurous and are an experienced kayaker, paddle the eight-mile stretch from Leo Carillo State Park to Point Mugu. The journey takes approximately four hours, and greets you with views of rocky bluffs, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands, and the much-photographed Point Mugu Rock. It’s a striking backdrop to take in from the water at all times of the day.

Paradise Cove

Paradise Cove
Photo: manfred matticka / Wikimedia Commons

The striking sandstone cliffs, calm waters, and white-sand beach at Paradise Cove have lent themselves to several movies and TV shows over the years, including Gidget, X-men, Baywatch, The O.C., and Indecent Proposal. Its beauty has been immortalized on the cover of the Beach Boys’ Surfin’ Safari album cover, and its tidepools make for ideal kayak explorations. Paddle southwest along the shoreline for approximately two miles for poster-worthy views of Point Dume.

El Matador

El Matador coastline

One of the most stunning beaches in all of California, if not the world, the other-worldly arches and sea stacks of El Matador extend a mystical feeling to the beach. Paddle along the north end and you’ll find the largest cave, located at the bottom of an enormous flat rock and best explored at low tide. El Matador is one of the most popular destinations in Malibu due to its breathtaking beauty, but from the water you’ll be able to take it all in with as much space as you desire.

For more insights into top kayaking destinations and for help arranging rentals and lessons with Malibu Surf Shack, our reception team is here to assist you.