Photography by Jason Stout

Capturing El Matador

An artist’s insider guide to experiencing one of the most captivating destinations on the Pacific Ocean near Malibu, California

by | 26 August, 2022

H ead out from Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, and keep going. Keep going past Will Rogers Beach. Keep going past Las Tunas. Stop at a cliffside restaurant in Malibu, and then — keep going. You’re almost there. Pass Point Dume and Zuma Beach but don’t blink! There is a small sign that signals the upcoming turn towards El Matador Beach. You’ve arrived.

Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach is made up of three “pocket beaches” of which El Matador is the first. The other two are El Pescador and La Piedra. All three destinations are popular spots in the summer and the beaches are filled (but not over-filled) with travelers willing to make the trek. In the off-season, they are destinations for the grandest kind of solitude.

El Matador is special. It’s a favorite spot for professional photoshoots and has been the setting in countless film and television productions for decades, and there’s a reason: this beach has drama.

“You will find yourself amidst ancient towers built by the earth and etched away over an eternity.” – artist Jason Stout

Find a spot in the small parking lot and follow the circuit of staircases and trails down the cliff face. Stop along the way to take in and photograph the breathtaking sight of El Matador with it’s towering sea stacks and ageless cave formations in the surf and the sand.

Low tide provides the best explorations of the time-worn arches in the rocks. At high tide on a foggy July afternoon (as seen in these photos), you’ll experience the dynamic power of the surf swirling and crashing around the stacks. You will find yourself amidst ancient towers built by the earth and etched away over an eternity. The foam like galaxies spinning and slowly shaping the rock are mesmerizing.

Most beaches along this part of the coast have white sand; yet, another unique feature of El Matador is its golden sand. Stay until sunset when magic hour light heralds another low tide and the beach becomes a gilded palace.

Soon, it will be time to climb your way back up the cliff face stairs and the inspiration from the beauty of El Matador will carry you upward.

Photography by Jason Stout


A sea stack stands tall on El Matador Beach.

Photography by Jason Stout

Castles Made of Sand

The striking seascape of El Matador Beach attracts travelers from far and wide.

Photography by Jason Stout

Tower of Gold

This golden-hued rock formation provides a safe haven for resting sea birds.

Photography by Jason Stout

Hallowed Halls

Sea arches formed by ages of tidal motion provide passages for those who visit El Matador.

Photography by Jason Stout

High Tide

The dynamic power of the Pacific Ocean is evident in the eroded boulders that dot the El Matador shoreline.

Photography by Jason Stout


A promontory carved by waves keeps itsit’s eternal watch over the Pacific Ocean as the surf swirls around it.