When you think of Malibu, what images come to mind? Picturesque sunsets dipping into the horizon? Salt-coated surfers dashing across the PCH, boards in hand? Long stretches of seaside homes kissing the edge of the beach?
You’re not wrong. Malibu is a town where laid-back Bohemia meets sleek, modern luxury. The epitome of Southern California coastal living, its name signifies those essential elements of the sought-after beach town— sand, sun, and surf. But move just a little bit inland and you’ll unearth the other, more understated face of Malibu—the canyons.
Tucked away in a lush canyon landscape, these neighborhoods offer serenity and seclusion, still just minutes (if not seconds) from the beach. Here are just a few:
Maintained by the Trancas Highlands Homeowners Association, these properties are located on various steep, private streets branching off Trancas Canyon Road. Largely newer than their Malibu West counterparts, the homes of Trancas Canyon are architecturally unique, and sit on lots ranging from 2,000-17,000 square feet. Some, like Kincaid Ranch (one of the original Malibu homesteads), are equestrian properties. Depending on their particular location, residents of Trancas Canyon can enjoy both ocean and canyon views.
Ramirez Canyon hosts a lush natural habitat that’s home to native Oak and Sycamore trees, an abundance of vegetation, and incredible wildlife including deer, bobcats, and grey foxes. Lower Ramirez Canyon Lateral Trail, the Ramirez Canyon Connector Trail, and a slew of other wildlife corridors offer endless options for the respectful explorer.
Ramirez Canyon is chock full of history and cultural importance— the location is actually an extension of the Chumash village of “Sumo” (located in Paradise Cove) with archeological sites dating back thousands of years.
Currently, there are about 50-60 homes in the canyon, varying greatly in style and architecture—from small cottages to modern, Mediterranean estates. Barbara Streisand’s former Ramirez Canyon home (a 23 acre, five house compound) was donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and is now open to the public for tours.
Latigo Canyon is a winding ten miles inland from the PCH to its intersection with Kanan-Dume Road. Residents enjoy mountain and canyon views from the valley homes, and coastal views from homes on the slopes of the canyon. From secluded properties to clusters of houses like those on Thrift Road, the homes of Latigo Canyon offer a truly unique Malibu setting in a pocket of Malibu often overlooked by those unfamiliar with the area.
Part of the larger Zuma Canyon, Bonsall Canyon is home to a combination of large estates and horse properties. Just a few hundred feet from the coast, Bonsall Canyon offers residents a stunning and tranquil natural environment. Bonsall’s climate yields a diversity of plant life, including rare orchids, and its canopy of trees is a sanctuary for a variety of bird species.
Bonsall Canyon begins at the Zuma Wetlands and ends in National Park territory. The neighborhood, which offers extensive hiking and horseback riding trails, is a veritable utopia for the outdoorsy resident.
The communities described here offer a modest glimpse into Malibu’s assortment of canyon neighborhoods. Living in the canyons of Malibu means retreating daily to the calm and privacy of the hills, while enjoying quick access to the beach and PCH.
When you’re in the market for a home in the area, it’s important to work with a realtor who understands the nuances of each community. Take a look beyond the beach, and you’ll find that Malibu is a multifarious paradise with something for everyone.