Are you ready for Malibu, camping on the beach, with the wind in your hair and rays on your skin? While some of Malibu’s beaches are private property and therefore off limits, there are plenty of publicly accessible beaches for you to set up your tent. Most will only see these beaches in movies and on TV. The sands here are shared with the uber-rich and famous including Jack Nicholson, Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears and Halle Barry, to name a few.
Can You Camp on the Malibu Beach?
YES! There are multiple campsites that have direct access to some of the most beautiful beaches in California.
- Leo Carillo State Beach – Great for camping in Malibu with direct beach access
- Sycamore Cove Beach – Cozy little strip of beach access
- Thornhill Broome Beach – Slightly rocky but less crowded than the other beaches in the Malibu area
- Zuma Beach – Popular touristy beach. Typically crowded but with plenty of parking and amenities including bathrooms and places to get food
- Amarillo Beach – Eastern beach on Malibu Road. There are access pathways between houses on the road
Most of the campgrounds are on the West side of Malibu. Point Dume state beach is the dividing line between Western and more accessible Malibu and Eastern more privatized Malibu. Let’s see the sites that allow you to camp on the Malibu beaches.
Leo Carillo State Beach and Park
The Leo Carillo State Beach boasts over 1.5 miles of Pacific coastal beaches with loads of natural tide pools, caves, offshore reefs and canyon streams. Self described as the “haven for adventurers” there’s something here for the entire family. From fun recreational activity like whale watching, sunbathing, and fishing to more adventurous activities like kayaking, windsurfing, and camping.
The park is named after a star of Broadway and television who is also a great-grandson of Carlos Carillo, the last governor of California during Mexican rule. Leo started off as a comedian and spent over 40 years in show-business. Hos most popular role was that of a sidekick in a popular TV series “The Cisco Kid”.
Back in 5,000 BC the area around Leo Carillo park was occupied by natives. They went by the name of Chumash. The Spanish settled the land in the mid to late 1700s, which brought unnecessary change to the Chumash way of life and introduced unknown and incurable diseases. The Chumash people had nearly disappeared by the 1920s.
Sycamore Cove Beach
Head a few minutes West of Carillo and you’ll run into the Sycamore Cove Beaches. These beautiful white-sand beaches are located off Big Sycamore Canyon just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. These Malibu beaches are flawless and ripe for camping. It’s a small stretch of beach so if you’re heading out to camp on the weekend be sure to get there early to get a pleasant spot. Parking is $14 for the day or $3 per hour. As with most beaches, it can get very windy. An in-ground wind shield if recommended if staying for extended periods of time.
You can’t get to the Sycamore Cove Beaches to camp without seeing some incredible landscape and scenery along the way. The monstrous sand dunes are sure to catch your eye. Rather than stay on the beach the whole time, lots of outdoor sporting enthusiasts venture to the top of the dunes to enjoy the amazing views. You can bring your dogs while camping on this Malibu beach, but they must remain leashed at all times.
Thornhill Broome Beach
The Thornhill Broome Beach is another one of Malibu’s eye-catching beaches. This beach is located just west of of the Pacific Coast Highway in the Western part of Malibu. The beach is fairly rocky, so I’d recommend bringing your wet shoes with you if you plan to explore the area. The best part is this beach is rarely packed, even on the weekend. This is probably because of the rocky terrain. When you turn around and face East from the beach, you’ll see one of those glorious sand dunes and it will call your name to come climb to the top! Don’t resist the urge, let your inner child run wild. You’ll sleep much better and feel good.
Zuma is your quintessential Californian Beach. Located very close to Point Dume in Malibu, this beach boasts 1.8 miles of beach access and an astounding 100+ acres of sandy area. This beach can get crowded during the summer months as it’s a popular tourist vacation spot. Like all the Malibu beaches we’re considering for camping, Zuma is just off the Pacific Coast Highway.
This Malibu beach has something for everyone including diving, fishing, surfing, swimming, and volleyball. It includes all typical facilities from a state beach including restrooms, picnic tables, beach wheelchairs, and showers. This beach also appeases the tourist crowds with food carts and restaurants. There are food trucks at both north and south ends of the beach. Many whale watching enthusiasts prefer the Zuma beach as they can watch gray whales make their winter migration.
Although Zuma Beach is a popular tourist attraction, there are plenty of parking lots. The beach offer eight separate lots and over 2,000 parking lots. Zuma is one of the must-visit beaches in Malibu.
Amarillo Beach is East of Point Dume and south of Malibu Bluffs Park. This beach is sprawling with multi-million dollar houses whose backyard view is the beach. There are several public access corridors between these beautiful homes that you can use to access the Amarillo Beach. If you’re in the mood to hike, you could go up to Bluffs Park and go on some trails then come down to cool off at the beach.
If you’re going to Malibu camping on the beach can be a fun experience. We’ve discovered five gorgeous beaches that I would strongly recommend visiting if you’re looking to camp in the Malibu, California area.