California Trachts: Malibu Edition
A Surf Escape Guide for Family Surfers
By Shawn Tracht
As a surfer, grazing daily at the newest surf magazines and internet websites, we are constantly elbowed in the face with more and more travel journals from guys and gals who have taken off around the world and scored perfect barrels in warm weather. The problem with this for a family dad, is that the idea of surf travel begins to create an itch in you that can only be satiated by getting out there and finally taking a trip. That being said, when you have a family, ditching the wife and kids to go on an fully inclusive surf trip to Indo or Central America probably isn’t the best way to nourish a good family life. Omniscient of that fact, some sort of surf escape get-a-way must be devised at least a couple times a year.
So… in an effort to help with some ideas to get you out there, and bring the family along, one answer is to to take off a couple hundred miles up or down your coastline to spots that you know are going off, and are also romantic for your significant other and are family oriented for the kids.
In this addition of California Trachts, we followed the South swells of summer to Malibu, and found just what we were looking for: an epic little Inn and restaurant steps from the beach and with in striking distance of Malibu’s legendary point breaks.
The Waves in Malibu
If you’ve never been to Malibu, it is the hippie scene of Los Angeles. Even though the conglomeration and pandemonium of a city that houses almost 10 million people lies just over the hill, Malibu, is only accessible by the two-lane Pacific Coast Highway, so the slow drive from the city keeps many wannabe ocean-lifestyler’s stuck in the heat of the inland valley. That being said, though the percentages of beach goers are low, near 10 million people thinking about the beach still crowds a perfect point break. Over a hundred people strewn down the point is still a normal day at Malibu Point when the South Swells are pumping. However, this is one of those places where when you get on the right wave, you’ll be racing and carving for 300 yards plus!
Another thing about Malibu Point is that it has three main breaks, so even though the line-up looks unmanageable from the beach, if you spend a couple minutes studying the point, you can usually find your niche. You’re probably not going to show up here and get thirty waves in two hours, but the few you ride can really be worth it…if you don’t get dropped in on that is.
First Point Malibu is closest to the road, and this is more of the longboard wave. Second Point is further up, and is noticeable because of the big gap between the longboarders and where the shortboarders are sitting. Third point is all the way up at the top, and is more beach breaky. Some guys will even go left on a few a-frame peaks at third point. Moreover, when your on vaction and the weather is hot, the water is warm, and the swells are pumping, the crowd sort of fades out of your mind because you’re not stuck at home in one foot slosh anymore.
The good news is that Malibu Point isn’t the only good wave in Malibu. As long as you time a good South Swell, there are a few perfect cobble stone points right off of the highway. Maybe my favorite is Leo Carillo. North of Zuma Beach, it breaks right off of these two huge rocks that stick up out of the ocean, and the wave peels all the way to the beach. When it’s big, the sets actually break behind the rocks, and the dudes sitting outback have to clear the rock section when they take off deep. If you surf the place all day long, like I did, every hour or two a guy will get held up in the lip on take off and end up in the rocks, “awe dude, I just went through the cheese grader man, did you see that? …How’s my board? I think I just ruined my wetsuit.”
My best bet for catching a lot of waves here was sitting just inside of the rocks, waiting for the guys on the outside to pull out of set waves that they were afraid of taking off on due to the rock factor.
Lastly, if the swell is small, County Line is a really fun beach break with a point that can also get going. It’s located at the north end of Malibu. As the swell gets over head, other spots like Big Dume and Super Tubes have been known to churn out some amazing barrels, however, these spots, like most good barrels, are localized. Topanga Point is also a great wave, and if you don’t want to surf a main spot, Malibu is literally point break city, with random great points viewable from the highway and within a lengthy hike in.
Where to Stay
Lush grounds, Southern California warm weather and an ocean view completed the tri-fecta of a perfect vacation location. At the Malibu Country Inn, a spacious suite with a fireplace and an ocean view made us feel free. In the room, we had a jacuzzi tub and a king size bed. This was perfect for the kids to bathe, my wife to be pampered, and a bed big enough to fit us all comfortably, which is unlike home where we all cram into our queen bed.
Ivy was the hotel manager, a Hawaiian who was born and raised with the Aloha spirit. This is another reason I love going to small Inns and B & B’s. The staff thrives only if the hotel does well, thus, they’re generally always friendly and welcoming. The Malibu Country Inn was no different. We were stoked with our room, and would just suggest you ask for one of the suites or the newly renovated rooms, as they were the best.
Steps from the Beach
Just steps from our suite was Zuma Beach, which pounded with some heavy beach break barrels. Growing up in Southern California, I remember and miss the lengthy soft sand beaches scattered with lifeguard towers. In the early morn, my son, on top of my shoulders, and I strolled down the hill and along some mini trails to the open beach. Again, cell phones and electronic devices turned off and left at home, he got all of my attention, and we were both stoked. We raced up and down the beach until I got tired, we sat on lifeguard towers gazing into the sea, and I told him about when I was a kid and how I thought life was best lived. This time made me happy, and it made the whole trip worth it. It is a memory that when I dream back of it right now, makes me jealous of my own past.
Our Favorite Place to Eat: Kristy’s Wood Oven And Wine Bar
Both because of it’s decadence, affordability for such a nice restaurant, and welcoming atmosphere, we always had lunch on the property of the Malibu Country Inn at Kristy’s. The food was elegant, yet filling, which is core to a surfer’s appetite, and for lack of a better cliche, mouth-watering. For me, taste and a full belly was essential. For my wife, presentation and taste…and all were fulfilled.
We started off with crispy calamari, stacked finely, and topped with a drizzle sauce. Each bite reminded me of how proud I was to be the dad who could bring my family on a summer vacation and treat them to such a meal…even though I was just a middle class surfer. From shrimp scampi to a burger that topped a good steak at most restaurants, we couldn’t have lived the dream any more than we did at Kristy’s Restaurant.
Ensuing Weeks After the Trip
Though a surfer always dreams of perfect waves in exotic foreign countries, taking off by yourself on those trips when you’re married with kids just doesn’t fit the genre of family life. That being said, we surfer’s still need to fulfill our needs for great waves and travel, and this jaunt down the coast definitely did just that.
As for the family, they couldn’t have been more stoked on dad! I was able to add variety and vibrancy compared to the summers in the past which were stagnant with normal routine.
In final, the ensuing month or so around home brought a renewed sense of companionship and fun with the family. The memories of running the beach with my son and treating my wife to some romantic dinners kept the stoke of life alive. I scored head high perfect waves, and even though it wasn’t in Indo, I didn’t really care. I took care of my own needs as a surfer, as well as my family, which means I’ll hopefully be getting to do this mini surf travel thing a heck-of-a lot more, and hopefully you will too.
Kristys Wood Oven & Wine bar: malibucountryinn.com/kristys Telephone: (310) 457-2602