The beaches of Malibu have a lot to offer. You can surf, swim, tan, play volleyball, frisbee, or "people watch". Zuma Beach has showers, changing rooms, lifeguard towers (including the main station) and parking is only $7.00 from Labor day through Memorial Day (it goes up to $10.00 for the summer). The turnoff from the Northbound lanes of PCH is just past Bonsall Drive. You will circle around and go under PCH to get to the parking entrance.
For "Free Zuma", you make a left at Westward Beach Road and stay to the left and try to parallel park along the side of the road. There are no fees to park along the road, but look out for No Parking signs as you will be towed if you are in violation. You can also park along PCH whereever there are no signs saying "No Stopping" and "No Parking" signs to avoid having to pay a parking fee. Zuma had the convenience of Hows Trancas market at the North End for a quick trip to the store. Trancas market is presently closed and a major remodel of the center is taking place as of Spring 2013. The concession stands are hit or miss at Zuma as they are only open during peak season.
Malibu Surfrider and Topanga are good beaches too, but they don't have the width or capacity that Zuma does. Surfrider Beach is located at PCH and Serra Road where the Adamson House is located. Parking is also available on PCH. If you don't surf, check out the Malibu Lagoon Park or Adamson House. Topanga State Beach is located at 18700 Pacific Coast Hwy just North of Topanga Canyon Blvd and PCH. Topanga is a bit rockier for swimming, but if you want to surf or lay in the sun and bake, this is a nice beach to try out.
The restaurants that provide surfside dining are the famous Gladstone's 4 Fish (Sunset and PCH), the Charthouse (at Topanga and PCH) and Geoffrey's (north of Malibu Cyn Rd on PCH). Jack In the Box is personally one of my favorite stops before heading back to the Valley after beaching it all day (on Sunset-a couple of stores off of PCH). There is also The Reel Inn (north of Topanga Canyon Bl on PCH) if you want to pick up something to eat or drink to go or dine in. The Topanga Ranch Market on PCH, which was a great place to get sandwiches, beverages, magazines, and conveniently located across the street from Topanga State Beach, was unfortunately closed and demolished several years ago. Your best bet for snacks and beach supplies nearby would be at Vons at Sunset and PCH.
Getting to these beaches is quite an adventure in itself. There are major canyon roads, Kanan-Dume, Malibu and Topanga, which are the easiest to get to Malibu. The more rigourous routes such as Decker Canyon or Encinal Canyon (via Decker) will get you to the beach, but allow extra time as these roads are much narrower and can be steep in spots. These roads will drop you at PCH just north of Zuma. The view of the Pacific from the cliffs is pretty spectacular when you are driving down the mountain.
The are several parks maintained by the City of Malibu where you can bike, picnic or hike. Charmlee Wilderness Park off of Encincal Canyon has beautiful ocean views from most of the trails. Parking is only $4.00 and there are trail maps available. Escondido Canyon Park off of PCH at Winding Way (south of Kanan Dume Rd) has a nice waterfall and stream hike. Point Dume State Park has a nice hike to the top overlooking the bluffs, beach, and ocean from 203 feet above at the end of Westward Beach Road. Bring sunscreen, water and hats as there is not alot of tree coverage on most of the trails.