Nilza lived in Pasadena, California, where she enjoyed adventuring as far as she could around SoCal on her days or weekends off.
Nestled off the Pacific Coast Highway of California, on Paradise Cove Road, you will find white sand that touches the ocean and looks exactly how you imagine Malibu should—pristine. Though Paradise Cove Beach is a public California beach, it sits in front of the privately-owned Bob Morris Paradise Cove Beach Café. Unsurprisingly, the naming and location of these two destinations create some slight confusion for visitors looking to access and enjoy this Malibu highlight.
A trip to Paradise Cove by way of Paradise Cove Café may not be for those on a budget or looking for a cheap beach day. However, if you find you are in California and willing to spend a little extra money to feel some vacation vibes, here are the things you need to know to plan a peek at this Pacific Ocean paradise.
Pricey Beachside Parking
Being a public beach means that the general public has free access to the area. It does not, however, mean free or even reasonably priced parking. If you are visiting Paradise Cove by way of a car you have two options:
- The free option is walking to the beach area/café after parking in an open, unmetered space off the Pacific Coast Highway.
- The paid option is to skip the walk and enjoy the ease of valet parking. Don't forget to read the parking pay structure details closely so you know what to expect:
- Beach Parking, Over 4-hour limit, or Lost Ticket: Monday-Friday $35, Weekends and Holidays $50
- Café Parking (with restaurant validation following $30 purchase minimum requirement): Monday-Friday $6, Weekends and Holidays $8
The $30 purchase minimum you need to spend at the restaurant is only valid for one parking ticket. This means if you are meeting up with others to enjoy a meal or drinks at the restaurant and have multiple cars that require validation, you may have to spend the minimum separately. If you are lucky, you may get a waiter who is relaxed and willing to validate everyone’s tickets regardless of the technical minimum. Rest assured the menu is priced in such a way that you should have no difficulty spending the required minimum.
Do You Like Piña Coladas and Okay Food?
With an 840-mile coastline, California has no shortage of public beaches to choose from. Though Malibu has always been on my list of California beaches to see, a huge draw that led me to Paradise Cove Beach and Café were their famous and instagrammable drinks poured directly into carved out fruit.
If you are an avid yelper, you will find many criticize the food served at the Café due to inconsistency between the quality and high prices. I will admit I am not a picky eater and I found the food to be fine. Nothing I ate was worth raving about or criticizing, but I did not come with the intention of eating a full meal.
My friends and I ordered the guacamole which is served in a large margarita cup. The guacamole was delicious but contained lettuce as a filler, something I have never experienced before in guacamole. I did not mind the lettuce filling, but my friends commented they felt as if they were eating a salad.
Since we had yelped the Café beforehand, we did not arrive with high expectations of the food; we came for the ambiance and fun drinks. Virgin or spiked, Paradise Cove Café offers a variety of beverages, iced and blended, that can come in a hollow pineapple, baby watermelon or coconut. The price of these beverages will not be displayed next to the alluring menu photos, but you can expect to pay a little over $14 per beverage if you get it with alcohol.
In the spirit of environmental sustainability, the café does not utilize plastic straws. Instead, drinks come with a pasta noodle to sip from. If you’re gluten-free ask for an alternative to the pasta straw. This eco-friendly initiative aligns with the City of Malibu’s campaign to eliminate single-use plastic products. We cannot expect to continue to enjoy beauties like that of Paradise Cove without a little bit of consciousness of the effect plastic waste has on our beaches.
Make the Most of the Sun and Sand
With an hour and a half spent in the shaded outdoor dining area of the restaurant, my friends and I had two and a half hours left of parking time to enjoy the beach and cove. If you need to change into a swimsuit, the restaurant has a gendered changing room outside, separate from the establishment.
The beach area directly in front of the café offers open and unreserved wooden chairs under umbrellas or completely un-shaded if you would like to get some sun. Many of these seats are taken by individuals waiting for their table in the restaurant or those who have opted to order food, snacks or drinks from the Café’s small convenience store and to-go food booth. You can opt to bring your own food and drinks if you would like to picnic along the beach. For those wanting to enjoy an adult beverage on the sand, alcohol is allowed on the beach as long as it is beer, champagne or wine. For those who want the VIP experience, there are pre-set luxury beach chairs, beds, towels, and umbrellas for rent next to the restaurant.
Past the rental chairs and beds, you will find the rocky cove area that many enjoy walking. The yachts in the distance give you the feeling that you have escaped to a private island to enjoy some sand and sun. The small cliffs of the cove offer cool shade when you need to take a break from the sun.
During low tide, you can explore the exposed tide pools where small sea creatures like anemones live. Due to the private nature of the beach, it is not as crowded as other California beaches, even on a Saturday. Do not forget to set an alarm on your phone if you valet park because time goes by faster than you would anticipate when you are relaxing on the beach.
Some key items to remember to bring along to best enjoy the beach:
- Beach towel(s) or a blanket
- A book or magazine
- Plenty of sunscreen or tanning oil if you prefer to get some color
- Water bottle(s)
A Few Hours in Paradise
Though Paradise Cove will not become a frequented spot for me, it is one I recommend others experience and enjoy at least once. If you go in with low expectations of the food and expect to pay a bit of money for parking and menu items, you will find you thoroughly enjoy your four (or more) hours in paradise. If you have been or end up going, please leave a comment below with your experience!
If you've been to Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, what rating would you give it?
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
© 2018 Nilza Marie Santana-Castillo
Fin from Barstow on May 21, 2018:
Sounds like a really relaxing getaway