Upon first moving to Los Angeles, it was my mission to go exploring every weekend. The voice of Anthony Bourdain often popped into my head, admonishing any “sitting around” that was done while I could be wandering this new world I just entered. My number one priority was to find the best beaches.
Being from Minnesota, water life was no stranger to me. Many summer days were spent along the gravel shores of the state’s 10,000 plus lakes. I’m always an advocate of surrounding one’s self in nature as much as possible, so I figured my weekends were best utilized by finding some pieces of the salty shore to enjoy.
As I met new friends and long-time California residents, I always asked which beaches they suggested. Time and time again, the overwhelming suggestion was El Matador Beach.
Matador, for short, is a truly pristine escape from the hustling city life of Los Angeles. Sprinkled with rocky terrain the likes of which has only been seen in movies and supermodel shoots, this beach is the picturesque paradise that comes to mind for every West Coast dreamer.
Overall Rating:★★★★ ½
The shoreline is spectacular, filled with sandy coves and hideaways in the rocks. However, the beach is small, so you’re bound to be surrounded by other LA locals on a weekend afternoon. Along with some small rocks scattered throughout the water, the larger formations make for an astonishing site. Nearly every time I’ve visited Matador there has been a photo shoot for everything from engagements to swim lines and more.
Beautiful blue water always seems to be waiting at El Matador Beach. At least, definitely more blue than most beaches near the city. Relatively shallow depths make the ocean easy to walk into and approachable even for those who aren’t totally comfortable swimming in the ocean.
A tiny pay parking lot is available at the top of the park, but I suggest street parking along the PCH. If you’re
coming to Matador, you’re going to be getting some exercise (see Accessibility below), so what are a few extra steps? Grab that sweet free street parking and walk over to the pay parking entrance to head toward the water.
If you want the beautiful views of El Matador Beach, you’ve got to work for it. By this, I mean I hope you’ve been using that Stairmaster at your gym. You’ll need to scale down a few flights of steep, sandy, and narrow stairs barely wide enough for two people to pass just to get to shore. But before you even reach the first step, you’ll have to maneuver down a dirt and gravel cliffside wide enough for only one person to walk at a time. This is not for the faint of heart, and I hope you’re ready for a workout. Just remember not to enjoy the beach to the point of exhaustion. You have to walk right back up those stairs before you can even think about going home!
My one and only whale sightings! I visited the beach with family during the spring and from atop the park cliff, before beginning our descent toward the stairs, we spotted the massive dark shadows floating in the abyss with fountains of water coming from their spouts. If you’re lucky enough to visit the beach during times of whale migrations, El Matador Beach is a spectacular viewpoint. Also, pelicans and seagulls galore! The birds have always flown freely over this beach and provided some great entertainment.
If you’ve been to El Matador beach, or have suggestions for more beaches to visit in SoCal, let me know in the comments below ↡