Sometimes being adventurous isn’t that easy…
Descending the steep cliff side stairs to a slice of sand near Point Dume, can feel like arriving on a deserted island. There aren’t any cars as far as the eye can see, just a small tuck of shoreline accessible by foot — and only by those who are willing to follow a winding dirt path.
For hundreds of years Point Dume was a sacred site for the Chumash people. Even today, with sedate, 1950s ranch-style houses rapidly giving way to post-modern mega-mansions on almost every lot, this is still a landscape scattered with the broken fragments of ancient lives.
According to State Parks documents, “The Chumash lived at Point Dume around A.D. 1080 – A.D. 1200, based on information recovered from archaeological testing at the site.”
However, archeologist Gary Stickel makes the case that an archeological find made in 2007 at a site less than two miles from the Point Dume Headlands, pushes the occupation date for the area back 11,000 years. The find, described as a Clovis projectile point, was turned up by a backhoe during construction of a residence. The projectile point is, so far, the only one of its kind found in the vicinity.
The story of Point Dume is full of history and intrigue. The Chumash Indians foraged the tide pools for fish and shellfish, and the Point was also used as an important communication relay between their villages. The top of the Point formed a vital communication link between villages in Malibu, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. If you stand on the tip of Point Dume you can see Surfrider Beach to the east, and the top of Boney Ridge to the West.
Westerners first discovered Point Dume in 1542 when Spanish explorer Cabrillo passed the Point on his way up the California coast. It wasn’t until 1793 George Vancouver named this area in honor of Padre Francisco Dumetz of Mission San Buenaventura. George, who spelled it incorrectly on his map simply as Dume, and the name never changed.
When most people think about Los Angeles, outside of the celebrities and movies, they think beaches, surfers, blondes, hot weather, convertibles, and the likes of. While I’m not convinced that’s really the meat of Los Angeles, in Malibu, it rings very true. Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, and head towards Zuma Beach, drive all the way to the end where you reach Point Dume.
Being so close to Hollywood, and full of such beauty, this is a popular place for the movie industry to film. Perhaps most interestingly, it was home to important scenes in Planet of the Apes, the climactic ending where he sees the Statue of Liberty and realizes he is still on earth… spoiler alert if you haven’t seen that movie from thirty years ago. Also, the seaside mansion of Tony Starks in Iron Man and its sequels, and also where horror-movie star Vincent Price had his ashes scattered.
I would suggest spending a good amount of time here, as there is so much to take in. Some of the spotlights include, the cliffs that are on the south side of the beach, the coastline view back to Malibu, and the small little deck that is built into the side of the cliff. And don’t forget to check out Pirate’s Cove!
It’s crazy how in a city as crowded and popular as Los Angeles, you can still find places like this hidden paradise.
No trip to Malibu would be complete without spending time in the beautiful landscape that makes up the Point Dume national preserve. The views throughout the hike are PHENOMENAL. And even though many things have changed in Malibu since the time the Chumash lived there, but from the top of the Point, looking out across the open ocean, or up the coast to Sequit Point in the distance, the view looks much as it must have to the ancient Chumash.