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Travel for $20 a day.
Malibu is a real place, a mythical place, a spiritual place.
We set out to find all three using Sea Mountain Ranch as our base of operations.

Malibu in three parts:

Day 1 - Sea Mountain Ranch - Our Arrival

Day 2 - Discovering Malibu's Beaches

Day 3 - Hangin' at Our Favorite Malibu Beach

Sea Mountain Ranch - Our Arrival
(Sea Mountain is now located in the spa community of Desert Hot Springs)

Sea Mountain Ranch is perched in the mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You might wonder why we would choose a location not on the sand for exploring Malibu. The reason is that there are only two hotels on the beach along the entire 21 miles of Malibu coastline. Behind these hotels is the extremely busy and noisy Pacific Coast Highway. And the beach these hotels overlook is far from being the best Malibu has to offer. So, our choice is far from the noise and we suspect it will be an integral part of our Malibu experience.

It's an overcast day as my wife, Pat, and I begin our drive to the coast. We take the I-10 west which will end right at the Pacific Ocean and put us on to Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. The traffic is typical for Los Angeles, heavy, slowing but never having to come to a full stop. Downtown L.A. looks particularly dreary in its mantle of haze and smog today. We're in Santa Monica now and the 10 ducks under an overpass and the transformation is awesome. In a flick of an eye, we go from urban setting to the beach. The 10 dumps us right on to the coastal highway and heads us north towards Malibu. The ocean and beach is wonderful to us wheather basked in sun or in fog or overcast skies.

We pass Sunset Blvd where it ends at the beach. To our left is the broad and open Santa Monica Bay. This is where the Santa Monica Mountains come down to the ocean. The L.A. basin is left behind us now. The ocean is to our left but blocked to a large degree by houses that range from old and rundown looking beach cottages to quite modern and spacious homes. But all of them have their backs to the busy highway and no matter how wealthy you are, if you live in one of these homes, you have to face the tumultous traffic of Hwy 1 every time you leave. The mountains rise sharply to our right. Along the right side the highway is one long disjointed strip of businesses. Roads off to our right lead up to fantastic houses sitting on hilltops surrounded by chapparal. This is the famous Southern California oily brush that ignites quickly and burns with a passion to sonsume evrything in it's path. It appears that many homeowners have learned their lessons from past fires and have encirled their estates with lots of greenery.

The physical City of Malibu is a narrow strip of land running for 21 miles along the Pacific Ocean. So, when someone says they are going to Malibu, they could be going to any number of famous spots along this diverse coastline. They might be going to Zuma Beach, Point Dume, Surfrider Beach or any number of places. We, however, are going to Sea Mountain Ranch. And here's where we turn off from Hwy 1 and start up into the mountains.

The road is two lanes, narrow and twisty. We climb higher into the mountains following carefully the directions that Dewey had given us. Dewey and his wife own Sea Mountain Ranch. The cloud layer is still above us this morning. Dewey says that Sea Mountain is almost always above the frequent coastal fog and overcast but we're beginning to doubt him. Not long after leaving Pacific Coast Highway, we reach the turn off that will take us to our retreat for the next few days. We climb a little higher and suddenly we are out of the clouds and in brilliant sunshine. Now we see the large house that is Sea Mountain. We stop at a large iron gate and push a button on an intercom. Dewey comes on line, we tell him who we are and the gate slowly begins to pivot on one end while the other end lifts skyward. We park our car and go up to the massive entry doors which Dewey has opened to greet us.

Stepping into the entryway we know that we are entering another world. Evrything about Sea Mountain is carefully designed to awaken your spritual and sensual senses. Dewey, himself, fits into the picture as a perfect, caring host sensative to his guests and their needs. He first shows us to our Ocean Vista Suite which, as the name implies, has a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean 3000 feet below us. Except this morning we're looking out at an extension of the ocean, fog, which is gently brushing against the mountain just below Sea Mountain. We have our own private deck where can sunbathe nude if we choose. The deck overlooks the pool and spa. The suite is decorated perfectly. In the closet are two plush robes for us to wear when going to and from the pool, sauna, or fitness room.

Now that we're settled in for the next few days, we go down to see Dewey and get a tour. First we see the other suites that are available. There are just four. So, you'll never feel overwhelmed with people, even when all the suites are occupied, which is just about about every weekend. You need to make reservations well in advance. Of course, there are sometimes cancellations. If you have a whim to go one weekend, it's worth a call to see if there is room for you at the ranch. Weekdays is another story. Dewey is more apt to be able to accommodate you, with several weeks notice, for a weekday stay.

The architechtual theme is Asian-Hawaiian, with Hawaiian music playing while Dewey shows us the ranch, Pat and I feel as close to Hawaii as you can be without being there. Incense candles burning in several nooks provide a sensuous aroma that heightens our awareness of our surroundings. Dewey shows us the library where there are books to read and videos for viewing in our room. The living area includes a sitting area in front of a large fireplace. It's obvious to us that you can visit here anytime of the year. It doesn't have to be beach weather. I can see us cuddling up in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter night. Opening onto the living area is the kitchen where our breakfast will be prepared for us each morning. Going out onto the deck there is the swimming pool that appears to be perched at the edge of the world. Topless swimming and sunbathing is permitted in the pool area. The diving board is done in the form of a surfboard. At the other end is a rock cliff with water cascading down its face. Tucked right next to the rock escarpment and overhung by bamboo is the spa. After dark, the spa is clothing optional. Dewey opens a gate for us and takes us down to another deck that is screened off from view from the pool. This area, he tells us, is reserved for nude sunbathing. Adjacent to this deck, in the bottom floor of the house, is the fitness room, sauna, showers, and massage rooms. The landscaped property cascades down the mountainside to two other small pools and sunning areas. A small stream follows the path. Its gurgling relaxes your senses.

The tour over, Dewey tells us that wine and cheese will be served at 4 PM. He leaves us to begin soaking up the enchantment that surrounds and inundates Sea Mountain Ranch. Pat and I go back to our room to change clothes and get ready to hang out around the pool. It's a weekday and we have the place to our selves.

With books in hand we're back pool side. We arrange the lounge chairs to get the sun directly on us. Then we stretch out to read. But we can't get into our books quickly because the scene is just so otherworld. Several hundred feet below us are the tops of the clouds that come up from the ocean and fill every crevice in the mountain. Like a white ocean in slow motion, the clouds push slowly forward and then retreat. The rythym is hypnotic. Add to the visual the sounds of running water and Hawaiian slack key guitar and you got, "I don't wanna leave this place." At 4 o'clock we go to check to see if the wine and cheese is out. Dewey had asked earlier what we liked in the way of wine. We had told him Merlot and sure enough there on the bar in the kitchen was a newly opened bottle of Merlot. With cheese, crackers, and wine in hand we returned to our aerie. There we remained until the sun dipped into the clouds and it got too cool to sit outside any longer.

Make a reservation at Sea Mountain Ranch.

In our room we got into warmer clothing and then headed out to go have dinner at our favorite restraurant on the Malibu Coast. Now, if you don't ever feel like leaving the ranch for food, you can order meals to be delivered to you. Just give your hosts at least an hour or more notice ahead of time when you want to eat. Dewey has a menu that you can order from. The food is prepared at a Malibu restaurant and then brought up the mountain to you. But for us, we wanted to visit the Pier View Cafe which we hadn't eaten at in a long time. The drive back down the mountain was much shorter than coming up. Coming up we didn't know exactly where we were going and so it seemed longer. Now we're at the ocean in minutes. I turn the car right onto Pacific Coast Highway and drive the few miles to the Pier View. It's just south of the pier at Surfrider Beach. We like this place because it is very informal, has no airs about itself, the food is great and you can sit outside under heat lamps with the ocean coming up right below you. Tonight is no exception. We enjoyed our meal out on the deck and talked about other fun times we had here.

Back at the ranch, we got ready to go into the spa. Dewey greets us at the bottom of stairs and inquires about dinner and what we like to drink. I tell him tequilla. After we're settled in the spa and enjoying the star filled sky, Dewey comes out with shots of Hornitos Tequilla for us. He stays for awhile to visit and answer questions we have about the property. Relaxed beyond what state any human should be allowed to acheive, we climb out of the spa, put on our plush robes and head to our suite. Along the way we pick up a video to watch before going to sleep.

Two more days of Malibu.:

Day 2 - Discovering Malibu's Beaches

Day 3 - Hangin' at Our Favorite Malibu Beach

Visit the Sea Mountain Ranch web site.When you book a suite at the Ranch for a weekday visit, tell them On the Beach sent you and you'll get $100 off the standard weekday rate.

Make a reservation at Sea Mountain Ranch.

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