Leo Carrillo State Beach Travel Guide

  • Casual, Open-air Dining
    Casual, Open-air Dining
    by KimberlyAnn
  • Fast Food Along the Pacific Coast
    Fast Food Along the Pacific Coast
    by KimberlyAnn
  • The Entrance to Dukes
    The Entrance to Dukes
    by KimberlyAnn

Leo Carrillo State Beach Things to Do

  • Bird Watching

    Because Leo Carrillo encompasses varied habitations, a bird watcher will enjoy a great variety of birds. You may observe brown pelicans, sea gulls, grebes, and cormorants (see phto 2). Loons, and surf scoters may be seen in the winter. In the campground I spotted scrub jays, plain titmice, sparrows, brown towhees, rufus sided towhees, a strikingly...

  • Watch the Wildlife

    In addition to the marine life a variety of birds visit the beach here. I did not see that many birds; but did have this little guy who was nice enough to pose for me.

  • Lifeguard Station

    There is a lifeguard station at Leo Carrillo State Beach to help look out for your safety. It is located near the north end of the beach.

  • Admire the Views

    Leo Carillo State Beach has a wide variety of types of beach. The open sandy beaches, reefs, and the tidepools. The views are great.

  • Search the Tidepools for Life

    Kids of all ages enjoy searching the tidepools for signs of life. The tidepools are the home of numerous types of marine life like: Seastars (or Starfish); Sea Urchins, Mussels and Clams.

  • Study the Tidepools

    When you first enter the beach area, there is a sign on the left giving some very useful and interesting information about the tidepools and the life living there. As the sign says: Please be careful when observing the marine life in the tidepools and do not disturb them.

  • Willow Creek Trail

    Leo Carrillo is not only located along the Pacific Coast, but it is also located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Willow Creek trailhead can be found near the entrance station to Leo Carrillo. There is a day use fee to enter the park, and a day use parking lot is located near the trailhead. The trailhead is for two trials, the Willow Creek, and...

  • Settle Into a Cozy Cove

    From the bluff walk that I described in the tip above, you can access two coves. (see photo 2) Each one has a short set of stairs, of about 28 to 30 steps, that will take you off the bluff and down to the small, sandy coves. You will find the first cove just north of the main lifeguard lookout station located on the bluff. Watch the tide, as the...

  • Title Enjoy a Hike Along the Bluff

    Walk the path that runs along the bluffs between the South Beach area and the North Beach area. Much of this walk runs along the edge of the bluff, providing you sweeping views of the beaches, coves, and ocean. You can walk into a cove from here, or take a pair of binoculars or a scope and look out across the ocean to see what sea birds or mammals...

  • Visit North Beach

    The North Beach area is a long, open area of sand and Pacific Ocean. Unlike the southern section there are not rocky reefs or tide pools. This makes North Beach better for wading along the shoreline. This section of the beach seems to be popular for all activities that one enjoys on the sand, swimming, boogie boarding, and kite surfing. Located on...

  • Visit the South Beach Area

    In the southern part of the Leo Carrillo, along highway 1 you will find an area of beach that seems quite popular with surfers. We saw surfers riding the waves along this section of the park every day that we were visiting. The people that you see in this photo are all surfers. This is also a good beach for any activity that you enjoy on the sand...

  • Visit the Tide Pools

    Leo Carrillo has one of the finest tidal pool areas that I have ever visited. Located on the south end of the park along highway 1, rocks and sea caves extend out into the ocean. As the tide goes out, you will discover that the now exposed rocks and pools are teaming with sea creatures. Muscles carpet the rocks, and turquoise sea anemones (see...


Leo Carrillo State Beach Restaurants

  • Casual Eatery With an Ocean View

    Neptune’s Net is popular with tourists and locals alike, for its casual dining, fast food, and a great view. You may see everything from fancy sport cars to motorcycles parked out front. My favorite part about Neptune’s Net is the location. Located across the highway from the ocean, you will have a nice view of the Pacific. I enjoy sitting on the...

  • A Popular, Ocean View Malibu Restaurant

    Dukes is a popular restaurant located on the ocean side of the Pacific Coast Highway, offering you wonderful ocean views as you dine. In 2013 Bravo’s reality cooking completion series, Top Chef Masters, featured Dukes in one of their elimination rounds. Dukes was introduced by the program as “One of Malibu’s iconic restaurants”. This is one of my...

  • Leo Carrillo State Beach Hotels

    0 Hotels in Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach Shopping

  • My Favorite Grocery Chain

    Ok, this is a little, well maybe a lot, out of the way, depending on how you feel about mountain driving, and I am talking about twisty mountain driving along a narrow road with no shoulders. We live in mountain country, and this might be the most twisty mountain road we have ever driven on, so even though Trader Joes is only about 16 miles away,...

  • A Great Little Grocery

    About five miles south of Leo Carrillo, on the North end of Malibu, you will find the small How’s Trancas Market. We did most of our grocery shopping at How’s while we were camped in Leo Carrillo. This market has basic needs, along with some excellent meats and deli products. Their steaks are a high quality of prime beef, the chicken Tamales,...

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Leo Carrillo State Beach Warnings and Dangers

  • Park Warnings

    The campground is in a wooded, mountain valley setting, so rattlesnakes and ticks can be present. Although there was no poison oak around our campsite, there is poison oak in the area, so watch for it. While at the beach if you see seals and sea lions, stay away from them, as they can bite. Be aware of ocean conditions and tides. If a lifeguard is...

  • A Warning for Campers

    There was one thing about camping in Leo Carrillo that we didn’t like: ANTS. After being there a few days, I suddenly saw a few ants on our kitchen counter---the next day there were a stream of ants coming and going. We solved the problem by changing our habits. We left no food on the kitchen counter at all. I sprayed the counter down with 409...

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Leo Carrillo State Beach Off The Beaten Path

  • El Madador State Beach

    There are a number of state beaches in the Leo Carrillo area, but El Matador was our favorite, as it is a very scenic beach. We visited this beach twice, both times taking a walk along the shoreline. Located along highway one, south of Leo Carrillo, a sign will tell you where the beach is. From the parking lot, you will descend stairs, leaving...

  • Nicholas Flat Ridge Trail

    To get to this trailhead, use the driving directions in the Nicholas Flat Trail Pond above. After you go around the gate and follow the dirt path to the area where the trail forms a L shape, you will continue straight, rather than going to the pond. After a time you will see a sign labeled Nicholas Flat Ridge Trail. This trail leads you up hill...

  • Nicholas Flat Trail and Pond

    The Nicholas Flat Trail is a 4 mile one way trail that leads from the Leo Carrillo Campground to a pond near Decker School Road. The ranger I talked to suggested finding someone to drive you to the entrance on Decker School Road and hiking back to the campground from there. Since we did not have anyone that could do this for us, and since we wanted...


Leo Carrillo State Beach Sports & Outdoors

  • Parasailing

    If you want a little more speed with your surfing try parasailing. You use a parasail to grab the wind and pull you along on a board. It is definitely an acquired skill but is loads of fun.

  • Sailboarding

    Sailboarding is another popular sports activity at Leo Carrillo State Beach. Your sailboard and plenty of sunblock.

  • Surfs Up!

    Leo Carrillo State Beach is popular with the surfing crowd. If you've never surfed maybe you can talk one of the locals into lessons. Bring your surfboard and plenty of sunblock. If you don't have either, there are plenty of surf shops in nearby Malibu.


Leo Carrillo State Beach General

  • Getting to the Beach

    The parking area for Leo Carrillo State Beach is across the Pacific Coast Highway, and costs $10 per vehicle. You gain access to the beach by walking under a brightly painted bridge. As soon as you enter the beach area you see the ocean and the tidepools. Watching the kids search the tidepools for ocean life, and breathing the clean ocean air.

  • Walking Under Highway 1

    To visit the beaches, the bluff walk, or the tidal pools, you will walk from the campground or the south day use parking lot to an underpass that will allow you to walk under highway 1 to the beach areas. If you are camping, the walk will be lengthened, depending on how far from the entrance gate your campsite is. You will have a longer walk to the...

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