One of the beautiful things about visiting Southern California is that the weather is pleasant pretty much year-round. High season stretches from May through October. These are the prime beach-going months when temperatures are typically in the low 70s. If you’re hankering to surf big waves, late August and September are when you’re most likely to find 10- to 12-footers. During the rest of the year there are almost always surfable waves in the two- to four-foot range.
During high and shoulder seasons, Malibu’s most popular beaches can be crowded, especially on weekends. If you like a little solitude with your sand, look for the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. The park’s three “pocket beaches”—El Matador, La Piedra, and El Pescador—are tucked under the cliff strands, hidden from the highway. Access the beaches via the short but steep walking paths. This is also a great time to hike in the adjacent Santa Monica Mountains where you’ll be treated to expansive views of the ocean. Or catch supper from the historic and sedate Malibu Pier. The most likely haul: Pacific mackerel, halibut, bonito, white sea bass, or yellowfin.
Even during low season, between December and March, the temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees. The annual Polar Plunge, held each year in February to raise money for the Special Olympics of Southern California, would make a Minnesotan chortle: the water temperature in Malibu hovers between 55 and 60 degrees, roughly the same as the air.
No matter when you visit, don’t miss the Getty Villa, a museum dedicated to the arts and culture of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Oil magnate John Paul Getty once lived on the property that’s tucked into a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If art isn’t your thing, the grounds are spectacular so bring a picnic, stroll through the gardens, and enjoy the ocean view. Admission to the grounds and museum are free, though reservations are required and can be made the day of an intended visit; parking is $15.