Originally a New Yorker, I dreamed of coming out to California my whole life, probably after seeing one too many episodes of Baywatch or Beverly Hills 90210, or maybe a combination of both. But seriously, I had always longed for a tranquil, sunny and geographically beautiful location in which to plunk myself down and call home. I found that in Los Angeles, my adoptive home, and a place where I have lived and created memories and roots over the last seven years of my life. To be more specific, California's coastline and mountain range has truly inspired and centered me, even during the tough times in life. I feel some type of mystical connection with the Pacific Ocean.
Among the many captivating locations in Southern California, I have grown particularly fond of Malibu, and I officially declare it as my favorite city in Los Angeles. After crazy work weeks of non-stop phone calls, Internet, deal making and breaking and all of the things that stress us out during the week, I escape to Malibu every weekend where I become whole again and all seems right with the world (and that's saying a lot!).
Since PR.com has readership from all over the world and Malibu, California is a famous destination, I decided to write about my favorite places and things in Malibu as an insider's guide to enjoying this amazing jewel of a community along California's coastline.
Along with myself, I have enlisted my friends at Malibu Magazine to be your concierge for this article. Mia Dinelly is Publisher and Editor in Chief of Malibu Magazine, and Jason Rouse is Creative Director.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): Jason, tell me about surf culture in Malibu. Why does Malibu and surfing go hand in hand?
Malibu Magazine (Jason): It's the history of Malibu. Malibu Surf Rider, First Point [Beaches] all the greats used to come here and surf. When you couldn't even get up here, guys were paddling from Topanga [California] to come surf at Third Point. It's one of the most perfect points in California. Everybody still knows each other, and it's just got a great energy to it when it's good.
PR.com: So there's a sense of community and you see the same faces?
Malibu Magazine (J): Absolutely. It's changed over the generations but the old guys are still there. It's interesting, because it's really kind of a rootsy surf crowd mixed in with high profile celebrities surfing with you. It's pretty nuts. You try, as a Malibu Magazine, to capture the roots of Malibu which is kind of a rootsy, eclectic crowd, artists, musicians, yet you do have these high profile celebrities.
PR.com: Do you think that tarnishes it or enhances it?
Malibu Magazine (J): No, it's always been like that. The [Malibu] Colony in the forties was built those houses were initially celebrity houses. It seems to work, because they don't come here to stand out.
PR.com: What is the best beach for surfing?
Malibu Magazine (J): Third Point.
PR.com: Where is that?
Malibu Magazine (J): The top of Surfrider Beach, right where The [Malibu] Colony starts.
PR.com: That's my favorite beach! What are some of your favorite restaurants and stores in Malibu?
Malibu Magazine (J): The Malibu Country Mart
(Mia Dinelly Interjects)
Malibu Magazine (Mia Dinelly): Two extremes would be: for good but pricy sushi would be Nobu. It's great for people watching, versus a great hamburger or veggie burger and John's Garden, coming off the beach. John's Garden is right on Cross Creek Road, in The Plaza.
PR.com: What advice would you give to somebody who wants to learn how to surf?
Malibu Magazine (J): Malibu Mike! He's a good friend of ours who teaches people how to surf all the time.
PR.com: From beginning level?
Malibu Magazine (J): Yes.
Malibu Magazine (M): He's been in Malibu for years doing this. He works all the way from Zuma [Beach] to Third Point [Beach], with lessons and rentals. He guarantees that in your first lesson you don't pay if you don't stand up.
Malibu Magazine (J): And he's a character.
PR.com: So for anyone who wants to learn how to surf in Malibu, call Malibu Mike! So Mia, are you from here?
Malibu Magazine (M): Originally I was born in Hawaii. I was raised both in Hawaii and Los Angeles. When I was ten or eleven my family came to Malibu and wanted to get a house here for the summers. At the time I was going back and forth from Los Angeles to Hawaii because [my parents] didn't want me to lose that [Hawaii] culture. They gravitated towards Malibu, so we were sharing houses in The [Malibu] Colony. I was involved with all the camps, Pepperdine [University] Tennis Camp and different ones. I remember getting in that car and driving up The Pacific Coast Highway with my parents and getting involved in the community from a kid's perspective.
PR.com: Don't you feel a sense of calm and centeredness when you're here?
Malibu Magazine (M): Without a doubt. If you feel like you're off balance, just take a walk out into the community, [or] a walk on the beach, and immediately it creates some kind of balance. I think that's a little bit of the mystery of Malibu. The beauty is there, you know that. I remember taking a deep breath and saying, "this is where I want to be, and somehow be a contributing factor to this community."
As someone who loves Malibu, Mia Dinelly couldn't understand why there wasn't a magazine that covered everything that Malibu is, from the geography to the lifestyle to the local businesses and people who are contributing so much to the community. Malibu Magazine is a direct reflection of how supportive Malibu residents are of their fellow business owners and fellow residents. If you are in town, pick up a copy of the magazine at any local newsstand and let it be your guide to many of the restaurants, boutiques, events and other happenings taking place in Malibu, California. It's a great guide for getting plugged into the local scene.
I have my own favorite places that I frequent in Malibu that I highly recommend, whether you are local to LA, or on vacation. So, here is my personal guide:
COOGIE'S BEACH CAFE
When visiting any locale, the day usually begins with a great breakfast or brunch, and I highly recommend the brunch at Coogie's. Coogie's is a restaurant located in The Malibu Colony Shopping Center, right off of the Pacific Coast Highway. There is indoor and outdoor seating, and the menu and service are fabulous. Outdoor seating allows you to take in the tranquil Mountain View in the distance. The scrambled eggs and zucchini bread are delicious! When my parents were out here visiting, they liked the zucchini bread so much that my mother emptied the basket, that wasn't finished, into a plastic baggie in her purse for the ride back to the hotel. According to the chef, some of the more popular breakfast selections are: The Spicy Bayou Scrambled Eggs and the Coogie Cakes - whole wheat pancakes with banana and strawberries mixed in. You may encounter a 15 minute wait during brunch hours, but it's well worth it! Star gazing is an extra perk of dining at this delicious café: John McEnroe, Tony Danza, Gabriel Reece, and Shirley MacClaine are regulars.
MALIBU COUNTRY MART
Malibu Country Mart is an eclectic combination of clothing and accessory boutiques, fine dining, outdoor style eateries, coffee houses and a playground where parents and children gather frequently to swing, slide and play in the sandbox. For daytime, try Howdy's Mexican Grill, complete with outdoor seating or The Malibu Mutt for a burger or sandwich. For sushi and star gazing in the evening, Nobu is a good choice. Planet Blue is one of the most popular boutiques in town and is broken up into two stores: clothing and accessories, and beauty supplies and accessories. Looking for the best skin and hair treatments on the market? You will find them here! I especially love a skincare line called Zorica of Malibu. Zorica is a Malibu local who creates her own skincare line using Malibu as her inspiration. The facial cleanser and face cream are amazingly gentle and soothing to the skin. I am also a huge fan of her body lotions. Right now I am using "Malibu Ocean Mist" spray on lotion. It is the beach in a bottle! If you are visiting Malibu and the thought of leaving is devastating, take one of these little bottles with you, and the sweet beachy scent will bring back wonderful memories each time you spray it on your body. ;-)
TOLA LIFE SPA
I am a spa junkie! I admit it. I can't resist a good massage. I also love natural plant based aromas, such as Aveda Products. I recently had the pleasure of visiting this Aveda Concept Spa in the heart of Malibu. The word "Tola" originates from Sanskrit, meaning "A Balance." When you enter Tola Life Spa, the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. My first service was an Elemental Nature Facial. Vanessa, my esthetician, guided me through a door to an oasis of candlelight, fountains, and the sweet smell of essential oils. I was given a pair of slippers, a robe and ushered over to a comfy chair where my feet were cleaned as I drank Aveda Herbal Tea. Vanessa then had me fill out a questionnaire to determine my elements. My main elements were Infinity and Earth. I then chose my massage oil: Vanilla; and Vanessa began my facial treatment. I was covered with blankets and received a mesmerizing shoulder and scalp massage as she cleaned and purified my skin. Needless to say, my face felt like a baby's bottom after my treatment.
My massage therapist, Alicia, walked into the room, with spring water and more Vanilla massage oil (which I love!) and I received a basic Swedish massage. Alicia was great and followed my instructions perfectly (arms, legs and lower back, please!). What can I say, my body holds some stress. Both Vanessa and Alicia were wonderful and paid attention to every detail. The service at Tola Spa is just impeccable! And what can be more relaxing then visiting a spa in Malibu, California. It doesn't get any better, let me tell you :)
I then had the privilege to sit down with my massage therapist, Alicia, to get the inside scoop on this incredible day spa. According to Alicia, the key to their quick success and amazing reputation lies in their detail to personal attention of each client, and the unique décor which provides a true feeling of escape. We then talk about their Hydrotherm Massage, which is extremely popular and unique to only Aveda Concept Spas. The Hydrotherm Massage at Tola Spa is done on two water filled pillows, where you don't have to turn over during the massage. You are able to lie on your back throughout the entire treatment. According to Alicia, you get the sensation of floating while lying on the water filled pillows. This is the most popular treatment requested by pregnant women. The warm soft floating sensation eases their discomfort, and for women who are in their third trimester and can't lay on their stomach, it is ideal!
In addition to massage and skin treatments, there is a hairstylist and colorist on staff who uses, what else, Aveda's Natural Hair Color. This place is a gem and a must visit, when in Malibu. Tola Spa is located in the Malibu Colony Shopping Center at 23755 Malibu Road.
If you are looking to get a drink and mingle while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, then Moonshadows: The Blue Lounge is right up the road on The Pacific Coast Highway. Moonshadows is laid back and casual, not at all pretentious. There is an indoor bar and an outdoor bar (that I prefer). Outdoors, the DJ spins while locals hang out and enjoy the breathtaking view. Inside, you can dine on fresh seafood for lunch and dinner. Get a table right next to a window and you will see beautiful ocean sprays crashing up against rocks. Very romantic! ;-)
I'm sure you've heard the old saying - for those of us from the East Coast, anyway - "Once you go to California, you're not coming back." Well that one holds true for me. I've been bit by the California bug pretty bad, especially the one in Malibu. So, I'll leave you with this. The only disclaimer I must proffer for this article is this: Warning! If you visit Malibu, California, you may never want to leave.