When you finally arrive at the mostly empty and semi-secluded El Matador, La Piedra and Leo Carillo state beaches, the effort feels worth it. For a while.

But getting there is hell unless (a) you’re on a motorcycle or an HE-approved rumblehog or (b) you manage to avoid peak traffic by traveling between 11 pm and 6 am. Most of the time there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between PCH and the 405. It’s basically about cars and the near-futility of finding a parking spot (unless you’re visiting the afore-mentioned, Trancas-area beaches) and that constant whaagghhh of traffic and that atmosphere of speed and aggression and predatory restaurants and the suffocating howl of it all. It just drains your soul.

I’ve visited so many tranquil and extra-beautiful and far-from-the-madding-crowd beach areas around the world (in Northern California and Oregon, in central Vietnam, Key West, Maine, New Jersey’s Long Beach island…yes, even in New Jersey!…France’s Côte d’Azur, Marina del Campo on the island of Elba, Baja California, Cape Cod, San Blas and Playa del Carmen and Cozumel in Mexico, and I’m sorry but alongside these havens the Malibu region is nothing to cherish or speak fondly of.

It’s one thing if you own a nice canyon home or cliffside spread or if you’re jogging along the track at Pepperdine U., but otherwise “later.”