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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Malibu

Malibu

Los Angeles - Southern California, United States

Surf

Malibu is a spot that has been known about for a long time. Its name originates from the Indian word ‘Humawilo’ which means ‘the surf sounds loudly’ and it’s a spot which had so much surfing significance throughout the 20th century that Paul Gross a former editor of Surfer Magazine wrote “It’s the exact spot on earth where ancient surfing became modern surfing”. You’ll find Malibu Beach, also known as Surfrider Beach, and its pointbreak in Santa Monica Bay, less than an hour away from Los Angeles. This long pointbreak divides into three sections which go from Malibu Lagoon until the old wooden pier from 1905, covering a distance of 400 yards. 

Like all of the best pointbreaks in the world, Malibu is located at a river mouth. This together with the correct exposure and thousands of years of erosion and sedimentation created an adequate coastal morphology which is capable of generating this type of long wave. It’s no coincidence that very close to Malibu, a little further north, you’ll find the world class right Rincon which has similar conditions and dynamics. In 1927, Tom Blake and Sam Reed were the first to go in with their paddleboards, followed later by Pete Peterson and Gard Chapin. In 1929 the connecting road from Santa Monica and Oxnard was opened to the public, the same road that today crosses Malibu Creek State Park, and the impact was so big that Malibu was already considered as California’s surfing capital in the forties.

malibu-surf

New materials arrived in the fifties and this lead to new and revolutionary boards being created by the likes of Bob Simmons, Joe Quigg, Dave Sweet and the youngest Dale Velzy and Matt Kivlin. The heavy wooden boards were history as the new Malibus appeared. They were much lighter thanks to the use of balsa wood, fibreglass and the revolutionary polyurethane foam which was used by Simmons. With these advances Malibu was converted into the epicentre of surfing in California for many years. During these years, the surfers of the era like Terry 'Tubesteak', Jeff 'Moondoggie' Griffin, Dewey Weber, King Lance Carson, Mike Doyle and Mickey Muñoz spread the beach lifestyle. In 1962 others like Butch Linden, Johnny Fain, J Riddle and Jackie Baxter formed the first Surfers Association in California.

The legend Mickey Dora deserves a special mention, he was the most high profile surfer during those years. The flow he transmitted, his driving and body adjustments on the board gave him the nickname ‘the cat’. His biographer David Rensin described him as an idol and practically everyone in Malibu in the sixties wanted to surf, walk and act like him. Surprisingly though, Mickey Dora didn’t share the Beach Boys’ philosophy and he replied with comments like “Guys who live at the beach get waterlogged. I’m there for the waves, nothing else.” He was a rebel and although he benefited from his great popularity there, he abandoned Malibu as he was tired of the fame and the crowds. Despite that, his spirit still continues in many locals under the Dora Rules motto. In the seventies with the evolution of surfing waves like Pipeline, the barrel became the maximum expression in surfing and changed the focus of attention to places like Pipeline and G-Land, causing Malibu to lose its position as a cutting edge spot, but it maintained its importance. From then on shortboards began to dominate and a new generation of surfers arrived, some of those were Angie Reno, Jay Riddle, Jeff Ho, Kirk Murray, Davey Hilton, and Allen Sarlo. Malibu’s significance is reflected in films such as Big Wednesday or The Endless Summer and in them you can see what the spirit was like at Surfrider Beach and capture the times when waves were shared.

All of this has changed a little as the level is now very high, the rivalry and crowds are somewhat normal but it’s also true that tradition has taught everyone that rides this legendary wave how to behave in the water. Recent times highlight surfers like Anthony Petruso, Dillon Perillo and the longboard brothers Marshall and Kassea Meador. Overcrowding and contamination is the main inconvenience and because of this, in 1984 the environmental group Surfrider Foundation began to help find a solution to the environmental problems in Malibu. Above all, let us not forget that the old Malibu was the reference point for world surfing, representative of the surfing culture and the evolution of shaping from the forties until the seventies.

Conditions

The best swell orientations are S, SSW and WSW as they can pass, without obstruction, between the islands that are located in front of the coast. They arrive between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn after the Pacific storms, which can occur anywhere from lower Mexico to New Zealand. It works from 2 to 10 feet, the best being 5 or 6 feet with long periods of 14 or 15 seconds and N wind. The strong WNW and NW swells with long periods can generate good waves in the winter with the advantage that it's less exposed to the predominant NW winds than the other spots. It works with all tides and divides into three sections or main peaks if it doesn’t have the maximum quality. If it’s a good size with high period and the bottoms are in good condition and you can link all of its sections.

First Point is a perfectly shaped classic wave which is closest to the beach and if the conditions are good it's the most consistent and the preferred wave for longboarders. It has the most protection from the wind and holds the best without changes in the bottoms. Second Point is very manoeuvrable at mid tide. At low tide it’s the fastest section and when it’s a good size it can be linked with the First Point. Third Point has always been the favourite for the new schoolers as it’s faster, hollower, and with good bottoms and conditions it produces barrels at mid tide. Third Point breaks better in the summer and autumn. Its dynamics aren’t always the same due to it having the most exposure and being nearest to the river mouth, the sedimentation of the cobblestone bottom is changeable in accordance with the season or prolonged weather periods. It's always a good idea to check Topanga if there is a big W swell. It's a spot with good rights just 5 miles south and is usually less busy than its big sister Malibu.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Right pointbreak
  • Wind
    N - NE
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    S - SSW - SW
  • Bottom
    Sand and Cobblestones
  • Size
    1 to 10 ft
  • Time of year
    From June to November
Suggested Spots
  • 82 km from Malibu Santa Barbara - California, United States
  • 124 km from Malibu Orange County - California, United States
  • 444 km from Malibu Santa Cruz - California, United States
  • 2229 km from Malibu Colima - Pacific Coast Mexico, Mexico