What Exactly is Beach Access in Malibu?

The Malibu Life February 12, 2024

What Exactly is Beach Access in Malibu?

Malibu Beach Access

When looking for a home in a coastal community, you may hear the term “beach access” thrown around. But what is beach access? What does it mean? Doesn’t everyone have beach access in Malibu? I mean, it just means getting to the beach…right?

The simple answer is yes - it does mean getting to the beach. However, what you may not know is that there are many ways to get to different beaches. Not everyone can get everywhere all the time. The easier it is to get to a beach where less people are, the more it will cost you when purchasing real estate.

Sounds confusing huh?  The purpose of this blog is to simplify this whole beach access thing. Let’s go through the different types of “beach access” in Malibu.

Just because you may live 50 feet from the beach does not mean that it is easy to get to. Let’s say you live on Pacific Coast Highway but on the land side - not the beach side - and you want to go to the beach but there is a row of homes across the street from you. You can’t just walk through someone’s house because it’s convenient. To get to the beach, you have to get in your car and 1) drive to a public beach or 2) head to a “coastal access” to get there. Coastal accesses are pathways to the beach that start at public points. Some are located between homes and are 50 feet long while others are long paths or stairs from the highway or a public street or parking lot. 

If you buy a home without “beach frontage” or “beach rights”, you have “public beach access.” “Private beach access” is more desirable by many home buyers in Malibu and it can come in many different forms: 

  • Access to a private beach club that is limited to people that live in a specific area
  • Access from your property to the beach via a footpath - to a private or public beach
  • Access to your own private beach on your property via a footpath or just by stepping out your back door

 

Let’s address each one!

 

Access to a private beach club that is limited to people that live in a specific area: There are two clubs like this in Malibu. One is in the center of Malibu and is called the La Costa Beach Club and the other is located in the west end of town and is called the Malibu West Beach Club. You will often hear the term “deeded rights” when discussing these beach clubs. This is because you can only join the club if you own a property within the area that has the rights to join - such rights can often be found on your grant deed.

The La Costa Beach Club offers volleyball courts, picnic tables, and beach access those with deeded rights.

 

Access from your property to the beach via a footpath - to a private or public beach: Once again, the right to use a footpath and beach can also be “deeded.” This is the case on Point Dume where some homes come with a “beach key.” This beach key allows you to open a gated footpath to get to a beach that only people that have a key to the footpath can easily get to. Sometimes pathways are on private property in gated neighborhoods where several owners share the same footpath. And sometimes you have your own private stairway or path through your own property down a bluff or hill to get to a public or private beach. And while this doesn’t seem all that special, it can be very valuable because in most instances, you can not build steps or paths to the beach anymore - even if it’s on your own property.

 

Access to your own private beach on your property via a footpath or just by stepping out your back door: It goes without saying that owning beachfront property is the easiest way to get to the beach.  Sometimes homes are on stilts and the ocean goes under the house which means you can only get to the beach at low tide. Sometimes there is a large stretch of dry sand in front of your house no matter what the tide is. And sometimes your beachfront home is elevated on a bluff and you have to walk down 150 stairs to get to it. All have different desirability levels.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that in Malibu, a private homeowner only owns the beach on the home’s side of the mean high tide line. What does that mean? Basically, if the sand gets wet, that’s not your sand. The public can walk, sit on and use it. Legal issues get more complicated than this but that is a simplified way to understand private beach ownership.

Local realtors know what properties have the type of beach access you may be looking for in Malibu. It’s important to understand the intricacies of beachfront homes, title issues, and legality of private beach rights when purchasing homes in Malibu. Call an expert.

For more help on the intricacies of Malibu property, purchasing in Malibu or anything included in this post, please reach out and let us know how we can help you!

 

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