WHERE is Malibu?
Malibu is a 27-mile stretch of California coastline that runs from Topanga on the south all the way up to Ventura County line on the north. Malibu virtually “hugs” the Pacific Ocean making it a most coveted destination for living. Combined, Malibu’s incorporated and unincorporated areas cover about 45,000 acres. Within these areas lie various beaches, high and low canyons as well as flat-topped hills known as mesas. Such a varietal landscape also includes enclaves of differing climates that create an extraordinary environment, one that is almost mythical.
WHAT characterizes Malibu?
As I’ve been describing other areas of Los Angeles as gems and jewels, Malibu would be the Hope Diamond. Having lived here 18+ years, I still find it the most elusive, even enigmatic area in Los Angeles and still feel like a tourist when I’m there. That said, I could vouch for residents who feel the complete opposite, true ownership and belonging.
Malibu immediately conjures images of surf and sand. Whether you have some vague memories of Gidget (which by the way, and crazily coincidentally, my mother’s first cousin directed all of the Gidget movies) or Baywatch when it filmed at Paradise Cove, or more recently as the home of Hannah Montana, the association with surfing and the style that accompanies “the surfer” come to mind.
Less familiar, and perhaps more significant, Malibu is steeped in rich history. The Native American Chumash people from whom Malibu got its name, originally settled the area. The Spanish brought the California mission system to the area in the early 1800’s after which a large portion was passed to Frederick and Rhoda May Rindge. Their legacy of going to all lengths to keep the area private may well have triggered the mystique I associate with Malibu. It wasn’t until the 1900’s that the state won a court case against the Rindges; and PCH, the famous Pacific Coast Highway, was built. The Rindge house, currently known as the Adamson House is a California Historical Landmark that is now part of Malibu Creek State Park.
Additionally, Rhoda May Rindge opened a tile factory in 1926 that lasted for six years before a terrible fire destroyed it. In that time, however, tiles were used throughout the county as decoration and became an integral part of the Los Angeles architectural styling. The tiles are considered highly collectible.
In 1991, the city of Malibu was incorporated, driven by residents’ desires to keep large public works projects from extending to their sheltered environment. Having won incorporation, it seems to me that Malibu has been able to secure an essence of privacy and self-control that many Los Angeles cities do not evocate. To Malibu’s credit, it adds to the allure and the ever-increasing wonder of many tourists and residents.
The beaches of Malibu are simply awesome and probably, locals aside, the biggest draw to the area. Zuma beach is pristine, family-friendly, dotted with cafes, and even has clean bathroom facilities. The most seen and scene beach is probably Surfrider Beach next to the Adamson house. You can always count on seeing a steady of stream of surfers there and surely you’ve caught scenes from 50’s and 60’s surf movies like Gidget, which were all filmed at that same spot. For an intimate beach day where you can nestle beside giant boulders and between notched cliffs, head to El Matador State Beach. Other beaches, like Paradise Cove, charge a fee and enforce tighter regulations for beachgoers. Many of the world’s most renowned celebrities and million/billionaires have beach homes and understandably, they have aimed to maintain privacy at the smaller beaches behind their homes.
When not in flip-flops, there is nothing more sublime than a day outing spent at the Getty Villa, an art museum that is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum. It sits at the lower edge of Malibu and it is sometimes attributed to the Pacific Palisades neighborhood. To me, it signals the beginning of the Malibu lifestyle. It is elegant, beachside, and mystical. It has an air of exclusivity and yet the people who work there could not be friendlier. Every time I visit, I am blown away by its splendor. The setting, the antiquities and the gardens are breathtaking and a must for Angelenos and tourists.
WHO is in Malibu?
Barbara Streisand and Bob Dylan. Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Goldie Hawn and Pamela Anderson. Dustin Hoffman and Diana Ross. Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber. Haven’t even begun. Should I go on?! An embarrassment of riches, for sure, for one city of only 13,000 residents! Since Malibu housing includes anything from mountain mansions, to huge beachside dwellings to retro ranches, new townhouses and old bungalows, there is a fit for many budgets but not much for the economy-minded budgets. Having some of the most expensive real estate in the country it is bound to attract the well-heeled and 2%ers. At the same time, I’ve encountered renters who live the bohemian/writer/artist/surf life in Malibu. Additionally, and uniquely, Malibu currently is a center for addiction rehabilitation centers and while the residents with those needs live there, the growth of that industry has likely drawn new professionals to the area.
DINE AT THE TOP:
Tra di Noi
DINE IN THE MID (range):
Cholada Thai Beach
La Costa Mission
DINE ON A BUDGET:
Lily’s Café & Pasteries
DRINK RESPONSIBLY AT:
Blue Lounge Bar
Coral Beach Cantina
Spruzzo Restaurant and Bar
SHOP TIL YOU DROP:
(Divided by shopping areas not individual stores)
Malibu Colony Plaza
Malibu Country Mart
Malibu Lumber Yard (name of center)
Point Dume Plaza
LIVE (and thrive) HERE:
Condos average: (coming soon)
Single Family Residences: (coming soon)
A one-bedroom apartment averages: (coming soon)
Malibu, of all my favorite places in Los Angeles, has been the most difficult for me to “get.” When I first moved here, I spent a shopping day at the Malibu Country Mart on Cross Creek. The very trendy stores being shopped by preppie or practically barefoot customers right from the beach perplexed me. And like shopping on the Mediterranean, the ages of the shoppers had a much wider range than in most of Los Angeles. A third were over 65. The restaurants had a classic presence and the diners were in bathing suit cover-ups. My black-colored city fashions never felt so out of place, not even in the other beach towns. Then a friend urged me to take horseback riding lessons up on Point Dume. Was the teacher serious that I had to pay handsomely to spend 45 minutes grooming the horse and 15 riding? She was; I did, twice. I’m a fish out of water in Malibu; the Surfrider waves and I have never been drawn to each other. And still I know when I’m in Malibu, awestruck at El Matador and mind-boggled by sunsets at Geoffrey’s, I am in a very special place. Malibu is an admirable community that is philanthropic, arts-minded, ocean loving and discreet. After 18 years, I’m starting to “get” it and like the Hope Diamond, I’ll just admire its beauty, visit now and then, and imagine the stories of those who’ve worn it.
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