A coastal hike mixing big ocean views and a chance to explore tide pools makes a nice double play. Throw in a shipwreck, and it’s officially a home run. There are several ways to attempt this grand slam, but a 2-mile round-trip trek along the Malaga Cove Trail in Palos Verdes Estates delivers the goods without getting reckless. As you head out, instead of joining the surfers bobbing in the bay, veer left toward the bluffs and rock hop to tide pools scattered along the teal water’s edge (for the best tide pooling, check the low tide). The Malaga Cove pools teem with tiny hermit crabs, bat starfish, green sea anemones, and hundreds of shelled snails stuck fast to the rocks. Continue, climbing over cannonball-size boulders on the shoreline as the bluffs curve back inland. Views sweep out to Santa Monica Bay and up to the Santa Monica Mountains. Off on the horizon, you’ll spot the Channel Islands. After a mile, round Flat Rock Point into Bluff Cove and look south to protruding Rocky Point. At its base lie the scattered remnants of the Dominator
, an ill-fated Greek freighter that ran aground here in 1961. Low tides and binoculars will bring the shipwreck into better view. To get closer to it you can continue on, but the footing gets riskier and this short distance has already paid out the hike’s best highlights.
BONUS: Post-adventure, detour to Malaga Cove Café (36 Malaga Cove Plaza, 310-378-5664) for a Mexican Caesar salad or chocolate fudge pie on the brick patio.
Check the tide table to hit the tide pools at low tide, and check for weather/high surf advisories. To get to the Malaga Cove Trail from Palos Verdes, turn west onto Palos Verdes Blvd. from PCH and follow it for 1.5 miles through town. Turn right on Palos Verdes Dr. and go .02 mile. At a four-way stop, turn right onto Via Corta. Continue onto Via Alamar with a slight left into a residential area. Turn left at Via Arroyo and follow it to the free parking lot at Paseo Del Mar. Malaga Cove Trail is unmarked but easy to spot: it’s the wide paved walkway to the left of the parking lot. Along the path, you’ll turn right at the athletic club and continue toward the coast. At the sand, turn left. You’ll walk about 300 feet on hard trail until you hit the rocky part of the coastline. Wear sturdy shoes for scrambling over rocks. Continue as far as Flat Rock Point (unmarked) a mile out, which juts from the bluffs and offers a fine view of the shipwreck. No dogs.