Most Angelenos have day-tripped up to Malibu, 27 miles of striking coastline that is home to tech tycoons, media executives and those movie stars who don’t want to flaunt it in Beverly Hills. Head north on the Pacific Coast Highway (locals call it the PCH or the 1), the legendary road that traces the ocean from San Diego to the Golden Gate Bridge, and hang a left towards the ocean. The real appeal of Malibu, however, isn’t the town itself, but the hiking. The trailhead to the 3.8-mile-long Escondido Falls Walk is clearly signed off the PCH, and gently rises 150 feet to a stunning 200ft-tall waterfall.
And don’t forget the ocean: Carbon Beach is as wide and as picturesque as any swathe of Mexican sand. But if you’re looking to catch some private waves, follow signs to Latigo Beach. Its staircase entrance is intentionally hard to find – which means that long, slow point break might be yours alone, even on a hot summer weekend. Competitive surfer Chris Stiegler (malibusurfcoach.com; $95) has 28 years of experience in getting first-timers up on their feet at nearby Point Dume within an hour or so. For those seduced into a longer stay, Malibu’s latest retreat, Aja Malibu (ajamalibu.com; $5,000, a week, all-inclusive, based on two sharing), is a 23-acre holistic resort set in the hills above the ocean, where just eight guests at a time embark on a seven-day health programme.