Right along the Pacific Coast Highway up a way from Santa Monica — or over the mountains from the 101, a bit south of Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road — is the Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach, and the Malibu Surf Shack.
The Malibu Surf Shack is pretty much across the street from the Pier. This small, friendly shop is chock full of hanging surf boards and wet suits. Outside are large stashes of Surfboards, Boogie Boards and Stand Up Paddle Boards awaiting rental. In a truck across the street is a selection of single and tandem kayaks.
If you’ve never kayaked in the ocean it can look a bit daunting. Unlike a lake, there are waves many months of the year. (I’d forgotten that fact when I set out to do this.) The guys from the Surf Shack allayed my fears. The first bit of water, about 1/4 way out to the end of the pier has the waves, but then you’re quickly behind them. To get out there, you wait as the waves pass. They come in sets, so after a set you get into your kayak and paddle out quickly. From there on there are no worries. The staff at the surf shop will tell you about the number of waves in a set and give you directions. In December the water is smoother, so you won’t even have to think about waves.
Soon it struck me that I was on the other side of the pier, out in the ocean, behind a bunch of surfers, watching as the waves formed between our kayak and the surfers, enjoying the show as they rode in on the waves. (There was some fancy doubles-riding going on, too!)
If you rent the kayak for two hours you can head up the coast enough to see some nice kelp beds. The water is particularly clear in the winter months. You may also be treated to a show of playful dolphins.
While there, the owner and staff talked me into some more adventure —Stand Up Paddle Boards! (I’d never even heard of these.) Apparently they’ve been known in Hawaii for ages but are new to the US just in the past few years. These are large boards on which you can lie down, kneel, sit, or stand. As with the kayak, you get out past the wavy part. I did this by paddling out on my knees with my butt resting on the board, as did the others I saw. Once past that point, you can get up on your knees and then stand. The paddle is one-sided and has a long handle. You paddle a bit on one side then the other.
I wasn’t up to standing up fully, but not for fear of falling into the water. (In fact, the water was so inviting that I went in after bringing my board in.) Several others were on the water, out behind the surfers and proceeding up the coast, making it seem effortless.
Malibu is also a great place to enjoy a great meal. One of my favorite casual places — The Fish Grill — is right there, right below the Malibu Surf Shack.
There's also the Beachcomber on the pier. They have a nice brunch, and a great clam chowder. You can sit inside, sit on the boardwalk, or sit by the bar. And if you bring a group you might love their private tiki room.
If you prefer a casual burger and shake, there's Ruby’s Dinner at the end of the pier.
Don't let the end of the summer season and name autumn put you off of our coastline's fabulous water sports!
If you're reading this in October or even early November, or plan to visit around then, and are thinking you miss this opportunity, don't lament. It may actually be the best time to enjoy our Pacific Ocean and relaxation such as kayaking. The summer crowds are gone. Parking is free and easy along PCH. With the air not so warm and the water having actually warmed up in August, the water is more enjoyable and not shockingly cold. The water is clearer in winter, too.
Malibu Surf Shack
22935 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu, CA 90265
If you're not familiar with a water sport, you can always learn. The Malibu Surf Shack has lessons — and guided kayak rides.
Activities/Rentals — Summer Rates 2010 (EDIT)
Surfboard Rentals: $xx for the day
Boogie Board Rentals: $xx for the day
Stand Up Paddle Boards: $xx for 2 hrs.
Single Kayaks: $xx for the day
Tandem Kayaks: $xx for the day
In addition to rentals, the Malibu Surf Shack has group activities: Guided Stand Up Paddle Group, Stand Up Paddle Board Lessons, Guided Kayak Group, and Surf Lessons.
Malibu Surf Shack Group Activities
Guided Stand Up Paddle Group
Sunday mornings at 10 — $45
Guided Kayak Group
Saturday mornings at 10 — $35
$100 for 1 1/2 hours including wet suit and board
Stand Up Paddle Board Lessons
$100 for 1 hour including board and paddle
Activities/Rentals — Winter Rates '09
Surfboard Rentals: $25 for the day
Boogie Board Rentals: $15 for the day
Stand Up Paddle Boards: $40 for 2 hrs.
Single Kayaks: $20 for the day
Tandem Kayaks: $25 for the day
You can kayak or board just about anywhere along the coast. Head up to Ventura, down to Marina del Rey or Newport Beach. Catalina has great kayaking too (but it costs a lot to get there).