The sounds of ocean waves are used as sleep aid noises for insomniacs. The manufacturers of scented candles mine the coast for every scent they can to project calm through the olfactory senses. Even the color blue has been shown to engender a feeling of relaxation. If serenity has a home base, it’s probably the beach.

Sometimes, though, you need all that serenity to cancel out the stress of the beach – fighting through the crowded parking lots, searching for a place to lay down a blanket, shutting out the noise from the Bluetooth speakers of fellow visitors.

Malibu, thankfully, tends to be calmer than that, in part due to its slight isolation up the coast from Santa Monica. And with 20-plus miles of coastline, there are always hidden beaches in Malibu.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Carbon Beach Malibu

It’s not just our bias (though we are biased): The beach steps from Malibu Beach Inn consistently makes lists of “hidden gems,” be they written by journalists or locals. Depending on the tide, it can be a thin strip of sand, meaning that visitors are often more likely to try their luck at nearby Point Dune or Malibu Lagoon. It keeps the ocean view clear and the sand clean. Best of all, you can couple it with dishes from the Carbon Beach Club’s surfside menu, like Rocky’s Grilled Chicken Club.

Getting here: Walk downstairs from your room. No, really, that’s it.

Latigo Beach

One internet travel magazine ranks the water at this hidden beach as the twelfth bluest in the nation. How they arrive at such a statement, we don’t know, but there’s no question that the ocean looks stunning here. In a way, Latigo is one of Malibu’s “newest” beaches: access to the coast here went through several rounds of fights with residents before the Coastal Commission ruled in favor of the public in 2020. Now, the public easements are better maintained, and the directional signage is as clear as the water is blue.

Getting here: Be careful. Latigo Shore Drive is often patrolled by ticket-wielding cops. Taking a rideshare to either entrance point is a good choice.

Big Rock Beach Malibu

At high tide, the “beach” at Big Rock doesn’t exist, as the water laps at the backs of the homes lining the coast. But at low tide, the water recedes to reveal a pristine patch of sand and plenty of room for a visitor or two. In 2022, Big Rock received an A+ from the non-profit Heal the Bay for water quality and cleanliness, thanks to the great water circulation, the presence of few storm drains, and its minimal human footprint. It’s a great space for an afternoon of beachside reading and sunset chasing.

Getting There: There’s a stairwell to the sand next to 19948 Pacific Coast Highway, but very little public parking (aside from the spots on the Pacific Coast Highway). It’s less than four miles from Malibu Beach Inn, however, making for either a long yet lovely walk along the beach or a short ride share trip.

Staircase Beach

This western Malibu gem is at the western edge of Leo Carrillo State Beach, steps from the Ventura County line. It’s a favorite of surfers thanks to its isolation, but its lack of steady crowds is also a big plus for sun-seekers looking for a hidden beach in Malibu. Of note: there are no services here (like restrooms), and the beach itself isn’t easily accessible, which often keeps families away. It’s also a small walk from Neptune’s Net, the Malibu seafood restaurant mainstay and motorcyclist favorite – just be careful crossing the Pacific Coast Highway.

Getting here: There’s a lot at 40000 E. Pacific Coast Highway – ditch the car there and walk the switchback trail down to the sand (oddly enough, there’s no staircase).

Point Dume Beach

Another cherished gem along Malibu’s coastline is known for its iconic cliffs and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The beach offers a more secluded and serene experience compared to some of the busier spots nearby. Visitors can enjoy exploring the tide pools, taking leisurely walks along the shore, or simply relaxing on the soft sands while listening to the soothing sounds of the waves. The hike up to Point Dume’s bluff rewards with panoramic vistas that are perfect for capturing unforgettable sunsets or spotting migrating whales during the right seasons.

El Matador Beach

With its dramatic rock formations and picturesque coves, is a photographer’s paradise. Tucked away along the coast, this beach feels like a hidden oasis where visitors can escape the crowds and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Malibu. The rugged cliffs and sea stacks create a unique backdrop for beachgoers looking to unwind and soak up the tranquility of the ocean. Exploring the hidden sea caves and watching the waves crash against the rocks adds to the allure of El Matador, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a peaceful beach experience in Malibu.