California Dreaming

This entry has been contributed by writer Laura Hernandez who is the original California Girl. If you dreamed of Malibu, imagined you were Gidget, wished Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys were singing about you, you’re a California surfer girl at heart. Laura is the real thing so enjoy your time on the beach with her! Before she gets us going, here’s a little bit about Laura.

Laura has a Master’s in Cultural Anthropology and is an actual Law School graduate. While still in law school she worked as the Death Penalty Law Clerk in a Public Defenders’ Office in Southern California. She writes about those adventures and integrates stories about growing up on a horse ranch near the beach as the eldest of many kids, and the only blonde in a half-a-Mexican family.

Despite having more education than people should be allowed to have, she tries to maintain her sense of humor, writes almost everyday around her full time job, kayaks in the summer; and only occasionally sips coconut rum through her Mickey Mouse bendy straw.

She tries to find time to surf in Hawaii since she noticed too late that there is no beach in her Northern California town. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and is a member of the Board of Directors of Writer’s Forum in Redding, California.

Beachy: California Dreaming

Laura Hermandez 2011

Malibu Beach is the beach of my childhood and the beach of my dreams. Maybe yours, too.
When I was a kid you got to the beach by parking parallel to Pacific Coast Highway; a crazy, screaming zoom into the shoulder of a fast moving, two lane road where you could easily get creamed by a Mercedes or karoomed off the road and into the sea! Then you walked about 4 blocks worth through a swamp with stinky puddles and cattails along the dirt path to the sand. And yes, you carry all your stuff. No snack stands, no drinking fountain. No lifeguard.
Malibu has been cleaned of the swamp now. There is a nice, paved parking lot ($10 to the guard shack or to the unattended box—you will be ticketed by cops if you don’t have the top of your parking envelope on your dashboard). There is a nice smoothed out dirt road with bridges to the sand. It’s still about 2 blocks worth to the sand.
There is a dirty little secret to Malibu, though: it’s not a great swimming beach. There are, and always have been, hundreds of smooth rocks for a hundred yards from the wet sand to the water and beyond. The surfers are way beyond the rocks, and that’s the way they like it. The waves are the long, slow rollers that are great for everyone to learn and get good on! But the sets of three, have a long space of nothing in between, and the wait can seem too long. There are no teachers organized there, no place to rent boards, so you bring your own from somewhere else. When I was a kid, girls weren’t really allowed to surf. The boys would make fun of you, knock you out of the way on the water or just threaten to do that. So I didn’t learn until I was an adult and I learned in Hawaii. That will be another article!
There are no restaurants to attend on the beach side of Malibu. You can walk the ½ mile to the pier, but restaurants come and go there, so bring your own. As with most California beaches, no booze. Save your coconut rum with your Mickey Mouse bendy straw for home.
Malibu is for watching people. You can see movie stars, and if you can keep the secret, and be “cool” I’ll tell you how. When the tide is low, and you grimmies (novices) can tell that because there is more wet sand, more shore rocks exposed; the chain link fence to the right of the beach is up off the ground and you can walk upright, under it. This gets you to the beach of The Colony, where the gated community of the rich and famous occupies the land. This is “private” property, but if you are “cool”, meaning you don’t scream, and ask for autographs, you can walk on the wet sand, not the dry sand, and see who you can see, gawk but keep walking, and dream of belonging there! The wet sand is public, which is why you must stay on that. Since the tide is low, you are not in much real danger of getting swept out to sea by a rogue wave! You can walk for about two miles to the cliffs, and see some of the most beautiful beach homes you’ve ever wished for! When you see a movie star, act like a neighbor and just say “Hi!”, and leave it at that! No, “I love your work!” or anything like that! It’s gauche, and not cool, and you might be asked to leave before you get a chance to explain the “wet sand/ dry sand” rule, and you would be embarrassed. No pictures, either, don’t be a jerk!
There is one Life Guard shack on Malibu now, and I think being a CUTE GUY is a job requirement, so dress accordingly. Tell your mom (and mine) to leave the hat with the green, built- in sun visor at home. Ya gotta wear a bathing suit of some kind. Mostly, Speedo wear is OUT for guys, and board shorts are good for everyone. Walking around on the sand is required, so don’t leave valuables on your towel as they might not be there when you return. You can do your hair big, since you might not want to brave the rocks to swim! I’ve always got my make-up on, so you can, too!
People from all over the world come to Malibu, and saying “hello” is welcomed. You won’t find a lot of shells on the beach, but it’s OK to take home the few that you find. Since Southern California has such a mild climate, Malibu is great during the winter. I’ve spent many of my January birthdays on the beach in the sunshine. The water is cold then, “refreshing” in the summer. Whatever time of year you go, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived on a little piece of paradise, famous for who goes there, and now it’s famous because you have been there, too!

Your Cape Cod Quiz:

The best place for a whale sighting is:

Provincetown Lighthouse
Stellwagen Bank
Nantucket Island
Martha’s Vineyard

The roughest waves on The Cape are:

The beaches along the sound
The beaches along the bay
The beaches along Atlantic Coast
All of them are pretty rough

Wicked in this part of the world means:


The travel time by ferry or boat to Nantucket is about:
Seventy-five minutes
Sixty minutes
Half an hour
Two hours

A chowder is:
A local term for a stupid person
A dairy based thick soup
A non-dairy based thick soup
A generic term for soup in New England


  1. Patricia de Bermuda says:

    A couple years ago on Malibu, we saw an Old guys Surfing Contest! it was wonderful! and can those OGs surf! Also caught a contest of young guys/girls, which was also a lot of fun, lots of media. Laura and I met Shirley McClane once and Candice Bergan another time. Malibu is cleaner and more beautiful than ever, fast food chains or any chains have never been allowed except for the original Jack in the Box from the 1960′s.It is the sunniest beach in So. Cal, rarely engulfed by the cold fog that smothers the southern beaches even in summer. Ok, now I’m homesick.

  2. elledruskin says:

    This sounds so cool. So is Cape Cod, the next destination but cool in a different, especially the water temperatures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


[+] Zaazu Emoticons