Nested between two famous beach spots in Los Angeles, California is a small and local beach called Topanga State Beach. It’s about 10 minutes north of Santa Monica and 10 minutes from the heart of Malibu, which lies west of Topanga along the world-famous Pacific Coast Highway 1 (PCH). If you make it north of Santa Monica, the highway starts trending to the west and winds right along the shore, which offers fantastic sights even while sitting in your car.
If you want to search out this small and rugged beach, just drive up PCH until you reach a stoplight called ‘Topanga’, and you are there. There is a pay parking lot and free parking on most of the shoulder along PCH. Finding a place to park in the summer is not very easy and may require patience. It is also fairly dangerous to pull into a spot on the road, as the traffic is in a hurry to get through this area and you’re inches away from your toes getting rolled over.
Once you have gotten your feet on the staircase down to the sand, you can melt away the Los Angeles stress for as long as you like. There is some sand on the beach, but as soon as you hit the water, the rocks will start grinding your feet. For surfers, it keeps the beach crowds to a minimum and hitting anyone besides another surfer is not very likely. For the most part it is a quiet beach without crowds of kids running and spraying you with sand. However, I have seen a few surfers get into altercations because they are a little territorial. When the waves get big, the attitudes will be more evident.
You will find it is monitored by life guards (Yeah, like Bay Watch). There are public bathrooms and a shower to clean off the ocean and sand. There is not any food on this beach, however, there are a couple of little restaurants in the shacks across the street. When I went on the day of this photo, I saw a new wine-tasting bar (Rosenthal’s, http://www.rosenthalestatewines.com), and it was enormous and packed. I think that is another reason why parking has gotten really tough.
If this spot isn’t for you, there are many more with a wide variety of flavors within a 5 – 10 minute drive from here.