Malibu has been notorious in the realms of surfing and film for decades, but it was only 25 years ago that our intimate beach town officially became a city.
Since incorporating, the ‘Bu has continued to appear in Hollywood hits and made strides in environmentalism and the arts—often with the help of local celebrities. But most of all, the residents of Malibu have worked to sustain our beloved coastal lifestyle.
With another year upon us, we look back on some of Malibu’s most famous moments over the last quarter century, from community milestones to favorite films.
The City of Malibu
Twenty-five years ago, Malibu looked much like it does today—and that’s a good thing. Plans for a freeway, high-rises along the oceanfront, and a nuclear power plant actually set things in motion for incorporating our charming coastal town. A group of passionate residents pulled together to defend Malibu’s natural beauty by opposing high-density development and eventually incorporated Malibu as a city on March 28, 1991.
A Culinary Icon
Photo credit: Henry Hargreaves
Nobu Matsuhisa’s world-class Japanese fusion cuisine has been a focal point on the Malibu restaurant scene for nearly two decades, with flavorful signature dishes like tiradito, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and black cod miso attracting epicureans from all over the world. Since opening in October 1999, Nobu has relocated to its more well-known beachfront property on the PCH—a modern space that hovers over the coastline and offers ocean views from nearly every seat.
Moments in Film: Pearl Harbor
From Gidget to Grease, countless classics have been filmed on the sweeping beaches of Malibu—and many, like the historical hit Pearl Harbor, have taken their place among Hollywood’s iconic greats. Despite being set in Hawaii, the 2001 war feature was actually filmed mostly in LA and on the surrounding coast, including Westward Beach, which you may recognize during the beach scene with Danny (Josh Hartnett) and Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale).
Moments in Film: Pirates of the Caribbean
With one-and-a-half miles of scenic caves, tide pools, and stunning coastal bluffs, Leo Carrillo State Park is no stranger to the film industry. In recent years, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has been perhaps the most popular film to showcase Leo Carrillo’s recognizable shores. Look for identifying features in the rum scene, in which Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) are marooned on a deserted island.
Moments in Film: The Notebook
“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” Every fan of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook remembers the compelling scene where Allie (Rachel McAdams) pretends to be a bird while Noah (Ryan Gosling) looks on from the beach before agreeing to her request. The oceanfront bluffs in the background may look familiar, especially if you tend to frequent El Matador State Beach to the north of Malibu Beach Inn.
The Only Luxury Resort in Malibu
Following a multi-million-dollar renovation, Malibu Beach Inn reopened in 2007 as the only luxury resort of its kind in Malibu. The head-to-toe renovation resulted in completely refinished interiors and exteriors, the addition of a new dining room, and expanded meeting space—with natural materials and a coastally-inspired color palette chosen to complement the neighboring shoreline.
A Greener Malibu
Photo credit: City of Malibu
At the heart of Malibu, Malibu Legacy Park opened on October 2, 2010, providing a beautiful setting to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the environment among coastal bluffs, prairies, native woodlands, and wetlands. What visitors may not know is that the park is also at the center of the city’s $50 million commitment to improving ocean water quality. An innovative system captures up to 2.6 million gallons of stormwater and urban runoff per day for treatment, keeping our ocean pure, then uses the clean water to irrigate the park.
Surfrider Beach Dedication
Surfrider Beach has been a premier surfing destination in California for generations—with countless celebrities hitting the beach and professional and beginning surfers paddling out daily. On October 9, 2010, it became the first World Surfing Reserve dedicated by Save the Waves, a coalition established to protect global surf destinations.
Celebrities Protect Our Beaches
With ocean storms frequently eroding our beaches, some of Malibu’s more high-profile residents, including Dustin Hoffman, Ray Romano, and Pierce Brosnan, came together in 2015 to preserve our coastline for future generations. The result: a $31 million commitment, allocated over a 10-year period, to replenish the ever-shifting sands of Broad Beach.
An Ocean View from Every Room
Just before the summer of 2016, Malibu Beach Inn saw a second transformation under the guidance of renowned interior designer Waldo Hernandez and new owners Simon and Daniel Mani. Along with custom furnishings in every guestroom, Carbon Beach Club restaurant and the hotel common areas were completely reimagined. Teak floors and a palette of blue-gray, dark blue, and beige were added to complement the nearby ocean—embracing the effortless luxury that Carbon Beach is known for. Best of all? The view of the Pacific from any room in the hotel.