Out in Malibu, where the rugged Santa Monica Mountains plunge into the Pacific, residents like to say their town is 27 miles long and one road wide. A single asphalt thread, the Pacific Coast Highway, ties together this remarkably varied stretch of coastline, home to the most famous beach bums in America as well as pristine natural sanctuaries only an hour from downtown Los Angeles. The Malibu Colony section of town has been a favored Hollywood outpost since Jane Fonda and Paul Newman were regulars there in the sixties. At Malibu’s southern end, Carbon Beach is known as Billionaire’s Beach thanks to residents such as David Geffen, Eli Broad, and Larry Ellison. But the quiet coves near Point Dume shelter fragile tidal pools and curious dolphins sometimes join local surfers in the waves. Somehow Malibu manages to embody the here and now—a former lumberyard will reopen next summer as a shopping center with Tory Burch and Intermix boutiques—without losing its funky beatnik vibe. There’s pricey sushi at Nobu and perfect fish tacos at Malibu Seafood. Though $20 million beach houses abound, the dress code for dinner is always flip-flops and jeans. It adds up to a uniquely Californian take on the good life, and it makes Malibu, according to decorator and longtime resident Hutton Wilkinson, "the chicest one-road town in the world."
Founder of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a veteran Point Dume resident
It’s the most marvelous place to live. It’s better than the Riviera in my mind, and I love the Riviera. The air, the water, the privacy—everything is good. It’s the best place in the world, and I’ve been to many places.
Director of UCLA’s Hammer Museum
Malibu is our sanity. We go every weekend—every single weekend. We pile the dogs in the car and the first thing we do is walk on the beach at sunset on Friday night. It’s my form of church. You would think that inside the house, which is right on the Pacific Coast Highway, all you would hear is the cars. But the ocean, even when it’s quiet, is loud enough to completely obscure the noise. Once we get in the front door, it’s all about the ocean. We feel like we’re at the edge of the world. The Waves crash right under our deck. It’s glorious.
Manager of the Malibu Newsstand
"Our best sellers are tabloids. I might get eighty copies of People in the winter months and double that in summer. Have I ever sold a magazine to someone who was on its cover? Yes."
Former First Lady
When Ronnie was governor, we vacationed in Malibu. I loved it.
Coldwell Banker real estate agent, with more than $800 million in sales in Malibu over the past three years
"The market keeps going up. We’re seeing prices on the land side of the PCH that we’ve never seen before: People come to Malibu and love it, but they can’t fit into a beach house. One of my prime properties is an Ed Niles beachfront home on Malibu Road. It’s three levels, all stainless steel and glass—very sexy. The price is $19 million. Considering what’s out there, it’s a fantastic buy.
Alexandre von Furstenberg
Hedge fund manager
In one day I can teach my son to surf, go mountain biking and kitesurfing, work from my Bloomberg, and finish by taking my daughter to the Malibu Country Mart for shopping and dinner, followed by a bonfire and s’mores on the beach with neighbors. If you ask me, that’s luxury.
I used to go to Malibu when I was a student at UCLA. In 1929 the Pacific Coast Highway was a dirt road. There were no homes. The material in my Malibu book is quite new photographically. The most important houses architecturally would be John Lautner’s. My favorite is the Stevens house; another is the Segel house. Lautner gave clients his interpretation of living in Malibu—orienting oneself directly to the ocean and the environment."
Eli Broad has a house by Richard Meier that I photographed and put on the cover of the book. Malibu has that kind of money. People who wanted to build there could purchase large properties with beautiful ocean views, which is not something they could do down in Santa Monica, where properties are small. Malibu had open land for people with money, and that allowed them to commission architects to design prodigious homes. The Broad house is good, but it’s just too large for my money.
Actor and artist
I started going to Malibu in the fifties. John Houseman owned a home in Malibu Colony and he always had a bunch of actors over. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward had a house. Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim had one, as did Peter Fonda. A lot of us hung out there. It was like a dream colony. I suppose now it’s like a billionaire’s club, but it was always for the rich, even if they lived like beatniks.
Founder of Malibu Locations
My husband bought a piece of Malibu prop-erty by accident in a business deal. At the time we were living in Playa del Rey and I’d heard the stars lived up there. I made him sign a promissory note that we would move back in a year if I didn’t like it. That was 1973.
It used to be that nobody put up fences. People had gardens and once, after some- one gave us two rabbits, my husband decided he wanted a mini farm. We got chickens and a rooster and they hatched their own chicks. Then we got a pig we called Henry. In the end we owned two ponies, two horses, two dogs, eight chickens, two roosters, pigeons, rabbits, cats, a milking cow, and a milking goat. This was standard.
My daughter would ride her horse to the market in Trancas and they had a hitching post. I know that sounds primitive, but it was only thirty years ago.
I moved out here six years ago and was lucky to get a house with a great history. Dolly Parton once lived in it, and it was pink inside. But the owners had Julius Shulman’s 1968 photos of the house, and I was able to restore it to its original look.
The Malibu beachfront is one of the most extraordinary sites to build on because of its unending sky. The light reflects off the ocean in the most exquisite manner, so that one is always aware of the presence of a unique natural beauty.