Zuma Beach is one of my favorite weekend getaways from the Los Angeles area, and considering how little is known about it, I almost find it difficult to tell fellow travelers about it (it has always been a sacred place to me). Beaches in Los Angeles tend to share certain characteristics. Most of them have somewhat cold water year round, a layer of smog off of the horizon, and some relatively dirty water that contributes to even dirtier beaches. While I enjoy hanging out on the beaches of Santa Monica or Venice, I rarely step into the ocean there. Zuma Beach, however, is one of the best places to get away from the stereotypical L.A. water and experience a true beach day. While the nearby Point Dume is excellent for hiking and exploring, Zuma is a rocky albeit safe place to set up a towel on the somewhat thick sand, put on some sun tan lotion and splash around in clean, sometimes see-through water. The beach itself is located about 30 minutes drive north from Malibu, and because most of the people from those parts stick to the water by their beach houses (which is much dirtier, in my opinion), the beaches at Zuma are relatively empty during the summer (if you are there to go people watching, stick to Santa Monica). One great thing about the Zuma Beach sand is that it gets washed up in layers, so that once you have stepped out about 40 feet from land, the sand begins to go uphill again, giving me bigger waves that let me body surf effectively quite a long way from shore. Of course there are the occasional weather and jellyfish warnings, but most weekends, especially in the summer, support good weather and great water temperature. Zuma is one of my favorite places near Los Angeles, so pack a picnic and spend the weekend at an amazing beach.