El Matador: A Guide To Swimming & Scenic Views – TheTravel

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Looking for somewhere to enjoy those picturesque Californian beaches? If one is in Malibu, then consider El Matador Beach and enjoy its stunning views that attract photographers from far and wide. El Matador is one of the most stunning beaches in the United States and is a favorite for photographers and models. Parking is limited, so plan one’s trip to find a spot.

The West Coast is full of stunning views and hidden gems for anyone planning an epic road trip. Those who plan to make a Pacific West Coast trip should put Oregon’s Neskowin Ghost Forest (that’s slowly reappearing on the beach) on their bucket list. Another unusual West Coast attraction is Glass Beach at Fort Bragg in Northern California.

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El Matador Beach Location & Getting There

El Matador Beach is part of the Robert. H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. The state beach includes three small separate but distinct beach areas, namely El Pescador Beach, La Piedra Beach, and El Matador Beach. Of these beaches, El Matador is the most popular and the closest to Malibu.

  • Location: 10 Miles Up The Coast Of Malibu (Highway 1)

Each of these beaches has public access with parking on top of the bluffs, and there are steep paths leading down to the beaches. Visitors can explore each of the beaches’ coves and attractions.

Parking is somewhat limited – so finding a spot to park can be rather annoying. If one is forced to park on the road, pay attention to the road signs to avoid getting a parking ticket. The upshot is that if one does find a place to park, then the beach will not be crowded (due to the limited parking space). Sources vary on whether the parking is free or paid.


  • Parking Spaces: Only 20 Parking Spots

The parking is well-marked, with picnic tables up on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Gaze out and breathe in the fresh sea air while admiring the dramatic eroding formations of the bluffs.

Related: 10 Beaches To Visit In Los Angeles Before Summer Is Over

The Breathtaking Scenic Views Of El Matador Beach

El Matador is famous for its stunning sea stacks, and its beauty makes it a popular spot for pro photographers. Photographers often go there to shoot swimsuit models and the stunning golden hour sunsets. El Matador Beach and some of the other beaches in the area are considered some of the best in the country.


The northern end of the beach has caves and arches in the rocks. The beach is a long stretch of sand decorated with massive rocks and sea caves. The largest cave is connected to the base of the bluff facing the ocean.

  • Best Time To Visit: Sunset & Low Tides

One tip is to visit El Matador Beach at low tide so when the natural features are the most visible. From the point of view of the natural beauty of the beach, the main attraction is the massive rock with its series of small arches (some are large enough to walk through – others are crawl spaces). The dramatic craggy rock formations seem to have just risen out of the Pacific Ocean.


See the tide pools (see starfish, crabs, and anemones in the tidal pools) and have a fun day out on one of California’s best beaches underneath the cliffs.

Related: These Are California’s Best Beaches, According To Your Favorite Beach Activity

Swimming At El Matador Beach

There are no services at El Matador – so bring everything one will need for the day (like beach towels, sunscreen, lunch, and picnic gear).

While the beach may appeal idyllic for swimming, most of El Matador is a no-swim zone, and it is not a good beach for swimming. The rocks in the water by the caves make it hazardous. Still, there are some parts of the beach where visitors can swim – and it’s even popular for snorkelers.


  • Swimming: Much Of The Beach Is Not Swimmable

El Matador Beach is not primarily a swim beach; it’s more of a great spot for strolling around some of Southern California’s most stunning coastal formations, sunbathing, and admiring the breathtaking sunset views.

If one would like to go for a dip, then be careful to read the signs of where it is safe to swim. There are plenty of better beaches in California if one’s primary mission is to go swimming or surfing.


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