There is a natural splendor to Malibu’s coastline that has captivated photographers since the rise of surfing culture in the ‘60s. It exists in the curve of each wave, in the city’s quintessential SoCal architecture, and in the laidback lifestyle that comes with a stay on California’s iconic Golden Coast.
To help modern-day photographers capture this beauty that is the ‘Bu, we have curated a list of the city’s most Instagram-worthy photo backdrops. While there are number of stunning places to happen upon, here are the top contenders—all within a short walk or drive of Malibu Beach Inn.
Malibu Wine Safari
Photo: Malibu Wine Safari
Vineyards always make for a beautiful backdrop, especially when you add exotic animals to the picture. Just 20 minutes from Malibu Beach Inn, Malibu Wine Safari offers 1,000 acres of vineyards and a collection of four-legged residents including alpacas, zebras, giraffes, bison, and camels. Sip local wine from Bisous to Zinfandel while you snap photos with the animals.
El Matador State Beach
The staircase that descends 150 feet from the bluffs to El Matador State Beach provides a photo moment in and of itself. Once on the sand, seek out the sea arch, a notorious rock formation that you can walk beneath, and the coastal caves. The arch looks especially lovely at sunset – both from the beach while the waves wash in and from high on the bluffs south of the arch.
The Getty Villa
A recreation of an ancient Roman country house (Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy), the immense Getty Villa is a stunning feat of architecture in wood, bronze, glass, and travertine. The house has four gardens filled with fountains, arbors, and reflecting ponds, and indoors, the intricately detailed rooms are accented with artwork that spans 7,000 years from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Leo Carrillo State Park
Next to El Matador State Beach, the tide pools and sea caves of the rugged Leo Carrillo State Park offer photographers a bounty of starfish and fascinating finds from the sea. The beach itself holds a certain beauty too, framed by cliffs on either side and often besieged by waves crashing against the rocks. Make sure to bring water shoes for your exploration; you may even come across seals, hermit crabs, and other marine life as you wander the coastline.
Photo: Malibu Farm
From the brightly colored organic cuisine to the photo-worthy décor and Pacific backdrop, Malibu Farm restaurant is the perfect place to begin your Instagram tour. Order a fresh acai bowl or Swedish pancakes, then turn your lens to the restaurant’s interior: Rustic benches draped with white fur contrast beautifully with the azure hues of the ocean.
After perusing the yoga-inspired clothing and accessories at lululemon Malibu, step outside and into the hallway of lanterns for a creative photo opportunity. The whimsical installation next to the shop features a collection of woven lanterns strung overhead and, spanning across the white brick wall, a mural in blue tones reminiscent of watercolors.
A leisurely hike from Winding Way (3.8 miles roundtrip) will lead you to the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. At 150 feet, Escondido Falls descends over three tiers of rock and, when water supply is high, forms a pool next to a tumble of moss-covered boulders at its base.
To reach the falls, park in the small lot on Winding Way and walk about a mile through the Malibu hills to the cul-de-sac at the end of the paved road. Keep walking until you see the sign for Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls, then follow the dirt path into a forest with small river crossings and beautiful scenery. At the first of three waterfalls, head up the steep trail to the right and follow a more exposed path past the second waterfall and on to your destination.
Point Dume State Beach
The dramatic landscape of Point Dume has been featured in many iconic films and television shows for its sheer cliffs, scattering of rocks, and azure waters. Spend some time on the beach, then head up the bluffs to a viewing platform, rumored to be the best in Malibu for gray whale watching, and the summit, where you can see the entirety of Santa Monica Bay, the northern coast of Malibu, a stretch of the Santa Monica Mountains, and Catalina Island in the distance.
The Terrace at Carbon Beach Club
At Malibu Beach Inn, our gourmet restaurant is suspended directly over the water on Billionaire’s Beach. Recently remodeled by famed designer Waldo Fernandez, Carbon Beach Club showcases blue-gray tones and bold artwork indoors and clear-glass panels on the elegant terrace. Take in unobstructed views of the sea and Malibu Pier while you peruse the wine list and dine on Mediterranean-inspired cuisine from wild king salmon to Bucatini Pomodoro.
Corral Canyon Overlook
One of the most spectacular views of the Pacific from above awaits in Corral Canyon Park, a 1,000-acre reserve next to Malibu Creek State Park. You can find the park’s 2.5-mile trail loop next to Malibu Seafood on the PCH. Set off into the canyon, and after a brief hike, you will come to a point that overlooks the curved coast of Malibu and rolling hillsides dotted with purple sage.