Hi there!

 

So, is renting a car REALLY the only way to see Malibu?!

Well surely, renting a car will offer you a lot more conveniences than being in Malibu without a car.

But if for one reason or another you just absolutely will not be renting a car when you have a few days in Los Angeles… and you don’t want to spend money on an Uber to Malibu… then does that mean you have no choice but to miss out on Malibu and the California Pacific Coast Highway?!

No!

 

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Getting around Malibu by bus. Best things to do in California Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

 

 

There IS a bus that goes to Malibu.

But taking this public transportation option to get to Malibu means that you WILL have to lower your expectations a little bit compared to having the freedom of driving your own car.

 

Will there be a lot of walking? Yes. (One of the best activities will involve a bit of walking, but there are still some good alternatives too if you don’t want to walk.)

Do you need to be careful when you’re walking? Yes. (It’s not exactly the safest walk so you do want to take extra precautions but it’s still possible.)

Are you better off making it a well-planned day? Yes. (For the bus timings. Depending on time of day, the bus in Malibu will come every 30 minutes to 1 hour or so.)

Will there possibly be a lot of waiting? Yes. (Or not, if you time it well!)

And most importantly…

Will there be lots of ocean views along the California coast?! YES!!

So basically… if you are determined to have a GREAT day in Malibu without a car, and you don’t mind any of the above, then I do think it’s VERY possible to have a VERY good day in Malibu!

It’s all about setting your expectations reasonably!

If you don’t mind these things…

Then it’s totally possible to have a PERFECT day in Malibu with tons of ocean views along the Pacific Coast Highway!

 

 

4 best things to do in Malibu in one day without a car

aka perfect day trip from Santa Monica or from Los Angeles!

 

 

1. Pacific Coast Highway of Malibu

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. How to see PCH from LA without a car. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

 

2. Classic Malibu sign

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. How to see Malibu sign from LA without a car. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

 

3. El Matador state beach

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Best beaches in LA without a car. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

 

 

4. Corral Canyon hike

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Best hikes in LA without a car. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

 

Day trip to Malibu from Los Angeles or from Santa Monica?

I stayed in Santa Monica, so my day trip to Malibu was from Santa Monica.

If you haven’t decided on an area of Los Angeles to stay yet, then I think Santa Monica can be a good area to stay, especially if you want to make a day trip to Malibu without a car.

Santa Monica is closer to Malibu than downtown LA. This means it’s possible to find a direct bus to Malibu from Santa Monica, and it also means less time getting to Malibu!

Santa Monica is also right on the coast which means it’s a beach town. It’s also where you’ll find the famous Santa Monica pier which has a festival-like atmosphere, and it’s also a good spot for a sunset in LA. The famous Venice Beach is also just down the street (and coast) from Santa Monica.

 

Put in future dates below (partner website) to see hotel costs in Santa Monica! Or zoom out to see hotel prices in downtown LA.

Among the cheapest places to stay will be the HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel.


Booking.com

 

 

🌴

 

 

 

And now…

This is how I did one day in Malibu without a car!

Day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

  • Bus from Santa Monica to Malibu
  • Walk from bus stop to classic Malibu sign along Pacific Coast Highway (10 minute walk)
  • Continue walk along Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu sign to El Matador State Beach (30 minute walk)
  • Beach walk at El Matador State Beach
  • Walk along Pacific Coast Highway back to bus stop
  • Bus to near Corral Canyon in Malibu
  • Hike the Corral Canyon loop trail (1.5 hours)
  • Bus from Malibu to Santa Monica!

Food options along the way: Trancas Country Market (grocery store), Sabor a Malibu (food truck), Malibu Seafood (oceanfront restaurant)

 

Here are a few more details!

 

Bus from Santa Monica to Malibu

Cost: $1.75
Landmark for google maps: Trancas Country Market

I started my day off in Malibu by going from downtown Santa Monica to as far as the bus goes on the Pacific Coast Highway.

And that’s to Trancas Canyon.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Malibu bus 534 route. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by 534 bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

See tips for taking the bus from Santa Monica to Malibu.

 

 

Trancas Country Market

Right near this bus stop is a gas station, Starbucks, and grocery store. All places you can go to for snacks and water!

The Trancas Country Market is the grocery store, and they also sell hot food and quick cold food options. And right out in front of the store is a place where you can eat too. You can pick up some snacks here right after you arrive to Malibu by bus, or if you have some time on your way back before the next bus arrives, then you can stop by later!

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Where to eat in Malibu. trancas country market grocery store. from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Where to eat in Malibu. trancas country market grocery store. from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Where to eat in Malibu. trancas country market grocery store. from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Walk along Pacific Coast Highway from bus stop to classic Malibu sign

So after you’ve loaded up on water and snacks, you can start your walk on the Pacific Coast Highway aka PCH!

This will be about a 10 minute walk to the first stop, the classic Malibu sign that welcomes you to Malibu and the 21 miles of scenic beauty along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to Malibu sign. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to Malibu sign. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

See the overlook around Malibu sign

Cost: FREE!

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu sign, 21 miles of scenic beauty Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu sign, 21 miles of scenic beauty Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu sign, 21 miles of scenic beauty Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu sign, 21 miles of scenic beauty Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Walk along Pacific Coast Highway to El Matador State Beach

Then after you’ve finished up around the Malibu sign overlook, you can continue the walk to El Matador State Beach.

This will be about a 30 minute walk along the PCH with more scenic views to get to this beach.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to el matador state beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Beach walk at El Matador State Beach

Cost: FREE!

There’s a short trail to get down to the beach that will give you great scenic views of the California coast. Once you get down to the beach, you can continue walking along the beach for more views! There are rock formations and small coves around here.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - El Matador State Beach, California state parks. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

See more photos of the El Matador beach walk.

 

 

Walk along Pacific Coast Highway back to Trancas Canyon bus stop

On the walk back, I checked google maps for when the next bus would depart so I could know whether I can take my time to get back to the bus stop, or if I should move along so I can catch the next bus.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to bus stop from El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to bus stop from El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to bus stop from El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to bus stop from El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - walk Pacific Coast Highway PCH to bus stop from El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Sabor a Malibu food truck

There’s a food truck along this stretch of the PCH in Malibu, so you might even consider stopping by on your way back for food!

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu food truck on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

See the Malibu food truck menu.

 

 

Bus to near Corral Canyon in Malibu

Cost: $1.75
Landmark for google maps: Malibu Seafood

So this bus will be headed back in the direction of Santa Monica.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - bus stop near El Matador State Beach. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - bus to corral canyon hike and malibu seafood restaurant. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - bus stop near corral canyon hike and malibu seafood restaurant. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - bus to corral canyon hike and malibu seafood restaurant. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Hike the Corral Canyon loop trail

Cost: FREE!

This hiking trail won’t exactly get you “into nature” but it will offer you amazing ocean views and views of the PCH from above!

The start of this trail is right near a bus stop. (This also means it can be a great hike near LA without a car!) This is good if you’re in Malibu without a car, but it also means that you can hear the cars going down the highway for most of the hike. So it’ll keep you feeling like you’re not far from civilization, but at the same time, you’ll probably be all alone on the trail!

You can start the trail from the parking lot, and this trail goes in a loop.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - corral canyon hike trailhead start parking lot. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Corral Canyon loop trail hike. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Corral Canyon loop trail hike. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Corral Canyon loop trail hike. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Corral Canyon loop trail hike. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Corral Canyon loop trail hike. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

Malibu Seafood oceanfront restaurant

And, after your hike, the restaurant right near the trail could be a good place to refuel! There’s outdoor seating and you can finish off your day by eating with ocean views!

If you’re running low on water, you can buy a bottle of water from the restaurant too.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best places to eat in Malibu on PCH in one day itinerary - Malibu seafood oceanfront restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best places to eat in Malibu on PCH in one day itinerary - Malibu seafood oceanfront restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

See the Malibu Seafood restaurant menu.

 

 

Bus from Malibu to Santa Monica!

Cost: $1.75

Since you’re again headed back in the direction of Santa Monica, you’ll go to the same bus stop that you got off at.

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by 534 bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by 534 bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by 534 bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Getting around Malibu by bus from LA or Santa Monica to Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway PCH. day trip from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

And if you’re back in Santa Monica by sunset, catch the sunset at the Santa Monica pier!!

 

One day trip to Malibu without a car. Best things to do in Malibu in one day itinerary - Malibu to Santa Monica pier sunset. from Los Angeles LA Santa Monica. California travel blog

 

 

More quick tips for a day trip to Malibu

  • Google maps can be a very good way to navigate Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Malibu by bus
  • Exact change only on the bus so have dollar bills and quarters
  • See how to take the bus to Malibu (and also how to take the bus from LAX if you’re flying into Los Angeles!)
  • When you’re walking on the Pacific Coast Highway, walk on the left side of the road so you’re facing traffic
  • The speed limit along the PCH in Malibu is mostly 50mph, so cars are going this fast or slightly faster probably. So try to walk as far from the road as you can when you’re on the shoulder
  • This might sound like common sense but look both ways before you cross the street! And do a quick check both ways again after you see there are no cars coming! With cars going fast, more can appear quickly!
  • Bring a small flashlight – just in case! Even if you plan to leave Malibu before dark, things might take longer than you expected, or once you’re there you might decide that you want to catch the sunset in Malibu from a restaurant with ocean views which could then have you leaving Malibu once it’s dark! Make it an actual flashlight – it’ll be brighter than your phone. The point is to help you be seen by cars in the dark on the road. You may also consider packing some reflective strips or gear.
  • Bring water and snacks! You don’t want to start lacking energy, and having both can help you stay energized for your big day in Malibu!
  • Uber is an option if you decide you don’t want to take the bus on the way back.

 

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Getting around Malibu by bus. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog

 

And if you’re looking to spend a few days relaxing in California, there are several different types of wellness retreats in California to choose from.

 

HAPPY ONE DAY IN MALIBU!

 

Day trip to Malibu without a car. How to spend one day in Malibu itinerary from Santa Monica or from LA Los Angeles. Getting around Malibu by bus. Pacific Coast Highway PCH. California travel blog