Laguna Beach vs Malibu: Which Is Better?

Going to the beach isn’t just about packing the car and driving to the nearest ocean you can find. There is so much more to consider, especially if you take a long trip like a vacation to the beach. If the weather isn’t ideal for the beach, you will need to look at accommodation options, affordability, and indoor activities.

If you want to go for a quick surf and return home at the end of the day, Malibu would be the perfect place to do so, weather permitting. However, if you want to spend a few days at the beach, Laguna Beach would be the better option as it would better suit your needs.

Whether you are going to Laguna Beach or Malibu would be determined by what you would want to accomplish and subsequently what your needs would be. Malibu is perfect for a quick surf, but for more than just a beach experience, perhaps you should be leaning more towards Laguna Beach as your destination.

Which Is Better Laguna Beach Or Malibu

Both of these cities have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best destination for you would generally depend on what you would like to accomplish. Malibu focuses on the beach culture, the sun, the sea, and surfing and does not have much more to offer in terms of culture, whereas Laguna Beach has many art galleries and beaches.

Malibu, translated from Spanish, means “the surf sounds loudly,” which seems like a very accurate description of Malibu. Surfers and residents of Malibu have affectionately started referring to it as “The Bu.” Malibu also tends to be home to many celebrities. Yet, the general population of Malibu tends to be more middle class.

Malibu has a 21-mile strip of coast which is basically a surfer’s paradise. Malibu has a lovely Mediterranean climate which means that every day is a beach day barring any rainstorms that may make their appearance occasionally. One can not forget about the wind that can be pretty strong in Malibu as well.

There are actually quite a few activities one can participate in when in Malibu; however, many of these activities are centered around the beach. The activities centered around the beach are perfectly fine, like visiting the Malibu Pier and spending the day at Zuma beach; however, you may not want to spend every second of your vacation at the beach.

That is where Laguna Beach would make the better option as a destination. Laguna Beach is a community filled with artists, even though it is also a popular surfing destination. Laguna Beach has a delightful mild Mediterranean climate year-round. It has beautiful gardens which one can walk through as well as an underwater park.

Laguna Beach and Malibu have some fantastic sights to see and things to do; Laguna Beach seems to be the more well-rounded option when one would like to experience a variety of different activities and some culture-building activities.

Best Place To Surf Malibu Or Laguna Beach?

Even though the beaches of these two cities have similar ocean conditions and similar waves for the hardcore surfers, Malibu would be the better option. Laguna Beach is a more tourist-orientated destination meaning that it has much busier beaches and even much more traffic.

The traffic may cause you to get to the beach later than you would have liked, and of course, the busyness of the beach may hinder you from getting your surf on. It is definitely worth it to check out staying at an Airbnb for the couple of days that you wish to be surfing in Malibu, and perhaps you will get accommodation a short walk from the beach. 

Which Is More Affordable, Laguna Beach Or Malibu?

One might think that Malibu would be pretty expensive because of the celebrity residents. The sad truth is that it is expensive to live in Malibu, perhaps not because of celebrities residing in Malibu but because of the lavish lifestyle that comes with living in Malibu.

Laguna Beach is also pretty expensive to stay in, although, in Laguna Beach, people aren’t as concerned with the appearance of having money as in Malibu, and many people rent their homes in Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach’s living expenses appear to be higher than the living expenses of the rest of the nation by an insane 118%.

Although Laguna Beach’s living costs are higher than most of the nation’s, Malibu’s are even higher. Laguna Beach comes in at 256 for overall living expenses. The rest of California comes in at 138 for overall living expenses. The general population of America comes in at 100 for overall living expenses, and Malibu comes in at 483.9.

Malibu’s overall living costs are almost double that of Laguna Beach. Both of these cities seem to be grossly expensive to live in compared to the rest of America. Some may live frugally in these cities, though, and the majority who live lavishly may be throwing off the statistics.

Is Malibu Or Laguna Beach Safer?

Neither Malibu nor Laguna Beach is categorized as a highly safe place. Malibu is more dangerous than 73% of the cities in the nation, which is not a great statistic. It makes one wonder if the lavish lifestyle maintained by the residents is a magnet for wrongdoers who see an opportunity for easy money.

Laguna Beach is hardly any better; in Laguna Beach, the chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime or property crime are one in 62. That means that when you are in a fully booked restaurant, at least one of those people has or will be a victim of crime in Laguna Beach.

That said, the violent crime rate for both cities is actually lower than the national violent crime rate. In Malibu, the violent crime rate is merely 12.6, with the national average being above 20. However, the property crime rate in Malibu is 40.5, which is higher than the national average of 35.4.

Laguna Beach’s violent crime rate is 16.2, which again is lower than the national average, and the property crime rate is 34.6, which is also lower than the national average. So the consensus is clear, you are slightly safer from violent crime in Malibu than in Laguna Beach and quite a bit safer from property crime in Laguna Beach than in Malibu.

Which Is Better Laguna Beach Or Malibu 01

Does Laguna Beach Or Malibu Have The Best Accommodation?

As we know, both these towns are absolutely gorgeous and would be great places to live in if you can afford it and absolutely ideal vacation spots once again if you could afford it. Thankfully, accommodation options like the app Airbnb make exclusive type places more accessible to the everyday person.

With that said, the only time one should decide to stay in Malibu is if you are visiting family in the city or if you are only there to surf. There are much more options available in Laguna Beach, and they have catered for tourists in a much more intentional way than Malibu has, or well has not at all prepared for tourists.

The restaurants and shops are far apart in Malibu, so getting anything done takes much longer than it should; it would also make it more difficult if you have a family who does not enjoy the same food, so you would end up having to travel several miles between the different restaurants to be able to satisfy each member of your family’s appetite.

One thing to bear in mind when considering whether to stay in Laguna Beach or Malibu is if you are looking for a peaceful beach vacation, you have packed your own food and are happy to stay in a self-catering Airbnb or something similar with not much more to do than spend the day enjoying nature and the ocean or if you want the opposite?

The opposite is a buzzing tourist location with the annoyance of traffic but the convenience of many restaurants and shops. The added benefit of having more than only going to the beach with many museums and art galleries to visit is a city rich in culture, catering primarily to tourists.

The former is Malibu, of course with the peaceful beach holiday which can be expensive but if you are well aware and prepared you could have the perfect holiday. The latter is Laguna Beach which may also be a trip you would need to save up for, but you would benefit from having more culture-rich experiences.

Festivals in Malibu

Both of these beautiful cities seem to have quite a few festivals which one can attend. Some of the festivals can be quite the opposite of what the other town’s festivals offer, and some seem to be on a more similar side. A few of the festivals may be slightly outside the cities, but the adventure is worth the drive.

Malibu offers a few festivals like the Westlake Village Street Fair, which caters to many different aspects of life, including kids and pets. Once again, one would need to keep the wind in mind when planning such a festival, as being unprepared for the wind could make the experience slightly unpleasant.

Taking a short drive (less than an hour) from Malibu would bring you to another fantastic festival, the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival. This a festival where you can admire some beautiful hot air balloons in their prime. You can watch the whole process of how the hot air balloons are laid out and set up and finally go up into the air.

This festival also has many different aspects, like kid’s activities, some great food vendors, and even classic car shows. Unlike the Street Fair, this festival does have an entry fee and charges extra for most of the kid’s activities; whereas the street fair had some free activities for the kids, they did have free mini-golf, though.

Festivals Of Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach also has some festivals to enjoy. It may not be a festival, but there is a farmer’s market in Laguna Beach; it has been around for years and is a fond experience for many locals and tourists alike. You can also find the Pageant of The Masters in Laguna Beach, an outdoor experience.

The Pageant of The Masters is an outdoor amphitheater experience, and it seems like a full-on Broadway production. They use a professional orchestra, sets with a considerable amount of detail, and even lighting that is properly utilized. The Pageant of Masters is a 90 min production that brings pieces of art, masterpieces to life.

It happens on the same grounds as the Festival of Arts while the Festival of Arts is running. These living pictures aren’t on display for the entire duration of the Festival of Arts, so it is worth planning a vacation around attending this magnificent experience. When you purchase a ticket to the arts festival, you receive access to see the living pictures.

The Festival of Arts runs from June to September in Laguna Beach with over 100 local and national artists showcasing their work; the Festival of Arts is a festival showcasing the fine arts that Laguna Beach and the country has to offer, and it is definitely worth attending to enrich your sense of culture.

This festival offers so much, from fine cuisine to workshops, tours, dessert pairings, and live concerts. This festival is rich in culture and almost makes Laguna Beach a worthwhile stop on your vacation all on its own.


Laguna Beach and Malibu are great destinations to travel to, although they may be expensive. Malibu is better suited to those wanting a quiet, peaceful beach breakaway. By breaking away, I mean away from everyone else as there really isn’t much to do here except surfing and a few festivals.

Laguna Beach is an excellent place for a family vacation. If you want to enrich your culture, Laguna Beach caters to tourists and has many great activities, shopping experiences, and restaurants to enjoy, not to mention the fantastic culture-rich festivals they offer.