Point Dume is a rocky promontory located at the western terminus of Santa Monica Bay between Dume Cove and Westward Beach in Malibu, California. It is situated about 1.75 miles from Paradise Cove and can be accessed from a hiking trail at the Point Dume Natural Preserve or from Westward Beach. Either option features breathtaking ocean views and spectacular cliffs.
Distance: 1.25 miles
Duration: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 226 feet
Kim and I were in the Malibu area to meet friends for lunch at the Malibu Café. After a cold beer and ridiculously overpriced lunch, our friend MJ told us about the beautiful hiking trails at Point Dume along the coast. She had previously led us on a couple of interesting hikes including the Beachwood Canyon Stairs and Mt Hollywood. So we were definitely interested.
We hadn’t come to Malibu prepared to hike. But MJ said the Point Dume Hike was more of a short nature walk than a hike. So the next day, Kim and I drove up to Point Dume to check it out.
Point Dume Natural Preserve
The actual name of the hiking area was posted as the Point Dume Natural Preserve even though the maps refer to it as Point Dume State Beach. Parking is limited to about ten spaces along Cliffside Drive. There’s a fairly large state beach parking lot north of the preserve at Westward Beach that will cost you about $12 to park, but we took our chances with the free parking at along Cliffside Drive. After driving back and forth a couple times, a spot opened up and we nabbed it.
There’s a fairly large state beach parking lot north of the preserve at Westward Beach that will cost you about $12 to park, but we took our chances with the free parking at along Cliffside Drive. After driving back and forth a couple times, a spot opened up and we nabbed it.
We didn’t know much about the hike other than there was a hill to climb and some pretty good views of the ocean. Since we weren’t expecting to do any hiking during our Malibu trip, Kim and I showed up at Point Dume wearing denim shorts, cotton shirts, and flip flops. Eerily reminiscent of our impromptu May Lake hike in Yosemite National Park about a month prior.
We met a nice gal named Venus near the trailhead. She had also managed to find a parking spot and was going to meet a friend who was rock climbing on the cliffs. Unlike us, Venus was dressed in hiking clothes and wearing trail shoes.
Point Dume Natural Preserve Trailhead
The initial trail led straight toward the ocean before branching off into several different directions. The obvious main trail hooked to the right, straight up the hill. Kim and I were curious where the other trails went, so we decided to poke around a bit. Venus was in a slight hurry to find her rock climbing friend so we bade her farewell and sent her on her way.
Dume Cove Beach Access
Before climbing up the hill, we found an interesting looking fenced-in pathway that appeared to go straight down to the beach. I later found out that was indeed a path leading to the beach at Dume Cove. We decided to check it out on our way back and started up the hill in our flip flops.
Kim ponders the beach access trail down to Dume Cove
The trail up the hill consisted of deep, soft sand making it difficult to walk in flip flops. We took our flip flops off and before long our feet were getting scorched. Plus there were little pieces of jagged rock in the sand which jabbed into our feet every few steps. Soft sand or not, we put our flip flops back on and eventually made it up the hill to a bluff overlooking Dume Cove.
From here, you could see Dume Cove and then Paradise Cove in the distance.
Point Dume hilltop overlooking Dume Cove
We reached the top of the hill and hiked down the other side toward the ocean. With expansive views of the ocean beckoning us forward, we took our time and thoroughly enjoyed the walk
Point Dume State Beach Viewing Platform
A few minutes later, we arrived at a wood observation deck or viewing platform that overlooked the ocean. It was well maintained and provided a nice place for a short break. The views were nice, of course, but not much different than the views from the other parts of the bluff.
We later found out that this observation deck is also used to watch for California gray whales between December and April. Maybe that’s where the whales gather. In any case, we were just there for an impromptu short hike. So we pretty much just soaked in the views.
Point Dume Observation Deck
After a good look in every direction, we saw an interesting looking trail near the deck that ran northerly along the edge of the bluff. We didn’t know where the trail led. But since we also didn’t have any idea where we wanted to go, it looked promising.
Picturesque Point Dume Cliffs
Once again, we encountered soft sand on the trail. But this time we kept our flip flops on. It was a beautiful cliffside trail with sweeping views of the deep blue Malibu ocean waters and coastline.
The Cliffside Trail toward Westward Beach
We continued on this picturesque trail as it curved to the right and suddenly we saw a very rugged but impressive looking cliff that jutted out into the ocean. We could see people on it so we knew there had to be a way to get there. We also saw a trail that ran along the edge of cliff apparently consisting of soft sand. From where we stood, it looked pretty dicey.
With both of us wearing flip flops, I wasn’t sure we’d be hiking to the end of the cliff. But not knowing where else to go we decided to at least check it out.
Kim’s awesome Pirate’s Cove and Point Dume Cliff pic
The closer we got to the cliff, the more doable it looked. Kim walked ahead while I took a video. The trail was fairly wide and reasonably easy to navigate. But you still couldn’t get careless. Especially wearing flip flops.
We bumped into some tourists from Russia and had them take our picture on the cliff, overlooking what we later discovered was Pirate’s Cove.
Me and Kim on the Point Dume cliff above Pirate’s Cove
We walked to the end of the cliff and enjoyed the views. Kim perched on the edge of the cliff for a quick photo. I didn’t want her to linger on the edge. Especially wearing flip flops. There was no need to prove anything.
This was the slide of the cliff that pretty much dropped straight down amidst jagged rocks. A misstep would likely be catastrophic.
Kim on the edge of the Point Dume cliff
As we started back from the end of the cliff, we got a good look at the Westward Beach side of the cliff. It was very smooth compared to the Pirate’s Cove side.
Westward Beach Rock Climbers
We saw rock climbers taking turns going up the sheer side of the cliff. Although this cliff may not be that big a deal for experienced rock climbers, it definitely looked like a precarious affair. We watched from the side as the climbers scaled the rock. Seemingly with ease.
I later found out from my mountaineer and canyoneer friend Mika, that rock climbers regard this cliff as an easy climb. It sure didn’t look easy to me.
Rock climber on the cliff at Point Dume
Westward Beach was located down below the cliff. From high up the cliff, it looked truly beautiful. The views were postcard like and I was kicking myself for not bringing my good camera, a Nikon DSLR. Good camera or not, we kept taking photos and wondered if we’d find a reasonably doable way down the cliff to Westward Beach.
Neither one of us had any desire to climb down the rocks but we also didn’t want to go around Robin’s Barn to get there.
High above Westward Beach
Fortunately we discovered a slot on the cliff with a very narrow path that appeared to lead down. Not aware of any other way down, we followed the slot path down. We held on to the walls of the slot as needed to keep from sliding. It was fairly steep and flip flops were definitely not the best choice for this path. Fortunately, it didn’t last long.
This slot ended up being somewhat of a “shortcut” to a wider path leading down to the beach. It was much more doable than it first appeared.
Point Dume slot trail to Westward Beach
Once down to Westward Beach, we watched the rock climbers for awhile. We didn’t see Venus and never found out if she had ever found the spot and her rock climber friend.
It was hot, so we decided to cool off in the water. Even if we could only go in ankle deep due to our denim shorts. We still got splashed by a couple of rogue waves but we didn’t mind due to the heat.
Get a taste of the Westward Beach ocean spray
After cooling off, we headed back up the hill on a different trail that led directly from Westward Beach to the north end of the Point Dume Natural Preserve. Once we got back to Cliffside Drive, we realized that we had forgotten about the tide pools we had wanted to check out on our way back. That would have to wait till next time.
The Point Dume hike in Malibu, California gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Even though it’s barely over a mile long depending on which trail you take, it’s a beautiful hike with fantastic ocean views. And though it’s a fairly easy walk up and down, I rate it as a moderate level hike due to the rugged cliffs you’ll walk alongside and the sketchy sections of trail. Add it all up and this is a must do hike if you are in the area.