Driving westward on PCH, you are sandwiched between cliffs on your right and beach homes on the left. Where the homes are packed tightly together you can't see the beach and the homes show only featureless walls and garage doors on their PCH side. Fabulous balconies, cantilevered architecture, and spiral staircases are all on the beach side. Along the way you will also find open areas which have not been developed (or have been un-developed) and you can see the rocky-sandy beaches, breaking waves, pelicans and other sea birds, with the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean passing over the horizon to Hawaii and beyond. Surfers abound early in the morning, taking advantage of the favorable onshore winds for max waves.
After Big Rock comes Las Flores, the historical boundary of the Rancho Malibu where travellers were turned back by May K. Rindge's locked gates. Duke's on the left was the Las Flores Inn and later the Malibu Sea Lion, landmarks for decades. In the vicinity of Carbon Canyon Road, the Carbon Beach homes along the ocean are some of Malibu's most exclusive, but you can't tell that from the bland side on PCH, only from the beach. After passing the Malibu Pier, world famous Surfrider Beach, and the Malibu Lagoon, PCH crosses over Malibu Creek to Cross Creek Road. This is today's commercial and geographic center of the Malibu coastal strip. Between Cross Creek and Malibu Canyon Road you will find the largest shopping centers such as Malibu Colony Plaza and the Malibu Country Mart, as well as the private Malibu Colony, the original Hollywood beach escape village.
As you pass the Malibu Colony Plaza Shopping Center on your left, PCH rises to meet Malibu Cyn Road, with Pepperdine University on the right and Malibu Bluffs Park on the left. A side trip up Malibu Cyn Road for 15 minutes takes you thorough the magnificent canyon cut through the Santa Monica Mountains by Malibu Creek, a mini-Grand Canyon, leading to Malibu Creek State Park on your left, just south of Mulholland Drive. Malibu Creek State Park was one site where numerous movies and TV shows were filmed.
PCH West of Malibu Canyon
Back on PCH, from Malibu Cyn Road, PCH runs along the cliffs for a few miles, past the palm studded compound overlooking the beach that once belonged to Cher (27422 PCH), then descends again to beach level with great views of Dan Blocker beach and the private, gated entrances to movie star's estates. Kanan Dume Road (CA-9) is just west of Ramirez Canyon, home of many of the rich and famous and the site of Barbara Streisand's 23 acre, five house Malibu compound, donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1993 and now open to the public for tours.
Beyond Kanan Dume Road, the area on the beach side is Point Dume, a giant rock arrowhead pointing into the water, seen in the lower left of the map. As PCH descends to Zuma Beach, on the west side of Point Dume, you can turn left onto Westward Road and travel along the beach to the Point Dume Rock at the end, or enter the popular Zuma Beach (small fee to enter the public beaches). Continuing along PCH past the broad sands of Zuma Beach (sunset photo, right) you will come to Trancas Canyon Road and shopping on the right with Broad Beach Road on the left. Broad Beach is one of the top, top neighborhoods of Malibu with homes worth tens of millions and a star-studded roster of residents. Broad Beach Road runs parallel to PCH for a little over a mile, then rejoins the main route.
West of Broad Beach Malibu continues for miles of scenic highway, with beach and mountain views, as it becomes more rural and distant from Los Angeles. The only numbered road north through the mountains is CA-23 -- Decker Canyon Road -- that snakes through the hills and canyons to Westlake Village. At the Ventura County line on PCH, just west of Leo Carrillo State Beach and Mulholland Highway, Malibu officially ends Just beyond is the County Line neighborhood, with Neptune's Net, County Line beach, and homes both on the beach and landside, the last community to the west with a Malibu address. Continuing west beyond the last County Line homes, you enter Point Mugu State Park offering a scenic drive all the way to Point Mugu, the split rock west of Sycamore Beach.