The City of Malibu is on a 34km strip of Pacific coastline. It has warm, sandy beaches and multimillion-dollar homes. It's an area prone to savage bushfires and when they hit, many homes are destroyed, but new ones soon reappear.
Dermott Brereton, Catriona Rowntree and Jules Lund took the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, known as Highway 1, which follows a sliver of land separating the Santa Monica Mountains from the ocean. Traffic can be pretty heavy on weekends and it's a good idea to tune in to KNX 1070AM for updates.
The car is king in California, and a drive south in a convertible is a great way to hit Highway 1 and head for Beach Boys country. There are pretty beaches along the way, and good spots for walks and picnics.
Malibu has been celebrity central since the 1930s and most of the beachfront is taken up with their homes. Don't go any closer to them than below the high tide mark or you will be in trouble with the law.
Casa Malibu Inn is a specialty boutique hotel right on the beach. It has just 21 rooms and a private beach a very rare thing indeed. It's quaint and cosy, and a high vine-covered wall blocks out most of the traffic noise.
Some of the locals here are Mel Gibson, Kate Hudson, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Aniston and Tom Hanks. You may not spot them, and there are no real tourist attractions to speak of and its anti-development but where there's celebrities there's good shopping.
Malibu Country Mart is one glorious sidewalk patio. Nestled among the mountains and just a stone's throw from the beach, the mart is set in beautiful grounds with world-class gardens, unique sculptures, outdoor dining and picnic areas and a children's playground. There are 67 stores but it's not the place for bargain shopping; maybe a little window shopping instead. Walking through the car park is like being at a swanky car show.
Tavern Tony is a Malibu institution. Pop in there for a meal and you would swear you were in Greece except for the American-sized servings. The lively atmosphere is spiced up with smashing of plates, live music and belly dancing, but a sprawling garden patio provides a more serene ambience.
Mel Gibson and Kate Hudson are regular visitors and Tom Hanks celebrated his birthday at Tony's recently.
Beneath the glamour there are options for those without the Hollywood bank balance. There's a laid-back side thanks to some of the best surf breaks in Southern California. On the western side of the pier, calm water is popular for kayaking.
Malibu Surf Shack, opposite the beach, rents kayaks by the hour or day. In fact they can set you up for the day with surfboards, wetsuits, boogie boards, umbrellas and beach chairs.
When hunger hits, Neptune's Net will serve you the most enormous seafood feast that won't cost an arm and a leg. If it swims, they cook it. Fried or steamed fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, lobster and huge bowls of hot chips. It's a cafeteria-style restaurant and is a popular local hangout. There are plenty of cold beers to choose from and as Jules said, he'd found an A-list location on a D-list budget.
Starline Bus Tours' Movie Star Homes Tour takes two hours and cost around $50 for adults and $35 for children. They offer round-trip transfers from most major hotel areas for around $6 per person. Fully narrated tours are in open top mini buses or air-conditioned limo vans. They start at 9.30am and run around every half hour.
Air New Zealand flies daily to Los Angeles.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $1447
- Melbourne $1429
- Adelaide $1715
- Perth $1729
- Brisbane $1453
On sale until September 8, 2009, and for travel between January 26 and March 27, 2010.
Prices correct at September 3, 2009