There are tons of beaches in Southern California. I live across the street from the beach. But the best beach by far in this area is Zuma Beach and Westward Beach in Malibu. I include them both because one leads into the other. They have lots of clean sand, great waves for surfing, and ranks among the healthiest beaches for clean water conditions in LA County so I don't think twice about getting in! Zuma is huge, great for kids and big parties. Has lots of facilities and is easy to get to. Westward is small but more exclusive. You have to climb rocks to get to its most coveted point but the view is breathtaking. Below summarizes my trip and cool facts about the beaches.
We went on a Monday during the day so the beach was fairly empty and it was a beautiful day! We walked along the sand and admired the incredibly clean water. Zuma Beach has been a popular filming location. It was a frequently used site for the television series Baywatch as well as numerous films, television episodes, and advertisements. The beach is referenced in the 1978 TV-movie Zuma Beach starring Suzanne Summers. Westward Beach has been used for innumerable films, television shows, and advertisements for decades. Planet of the Apes's famous final scene was filmed near here (on the cliff face of Point Dume). Countless advertisements, both film and print, that require beach scenes are shots of Westward Beach.
It was low tide so we were able to climb the rocks over to Westward Beach and Pirate's Cove which was the real treat. Westward is geographically situated on Malibu's westernmost promontory known as Point Dume. This beach is small and seemingly private as it is harder to get to. We were the only ones in the area so we had the whole beach to ourselves. Westward Beach is marked by a shorter sand shelf than Zuma, a veritable pipeline, making the waves of less duration and higher impact. Westward Beach is recommended for strong swimmers, as the wave action compared to Zuma Beach is stronger, can push down on swimmers, and delivers more of a "crunch." Zuma Beach hosts several premier surfing events each year.
Zuma/Westward Beach can be accessed directly from PCH, and lies between the major access corridors Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road and Kanan-Dume Road to the south, and Las Posas Road to the north. Parking is available on the road as well as a fee parking lot. We parked on the street and saved $7. If you're looking for the quintessential beach experience I would venture to one of theses!