Behind the Grade: Big Rock Beach

A view of Big Rock Beach from above / — It’s National Water Quality Month, and to celebrate we’re sharing with you a little-known LA County beach spot that shines when it comes to water quality.

Big Rock Beach

Big Rock Beach received an A+ in our most recent Beach Report Card—the highest grade a beach can get. Located in Malibu, about 8 ½ miles north of the Santa Monica Pier on PCH, Big Rock Beach has free parking and a coastal access stairway that leads down to the beach.

Lots of rocks mean you may see a tide pool or two, and with views up the coastline, it’s a great place to catch a sunset.

Why is it so Clean?

With less development than more urban shorelines, a largely natural landscape upstream, and only a single storm drain nearby, bacteria levels tend to be low at Big Rock Beach. For the same reasons, beaches in Malibu tend to fare better than beaches in more densely-populated areas, largely due to reduced urban runoff.

The beach is also what we call an “open ocean beach”, meaning it has good water circulation, so any pollutants that do enter the water are quickly flushed away from the shore by waves and currents.

“big blue” by Jodi Marr / Flickr

Why Do We Care About Water Quality

Heal the Bay created The Beach Report Card more than 30 years ago, when beachgoers knew very little about the water quality at their favorite beaches, or the health risks of swimming in polluted waters. With weekly and annual water quality grades based on bacterial pollution for more than 700 beaches from Washington State all the way down to Tijuana, you can know before you go.

Find water quality grades for Big Rock Beach and any other beach you’d like to visit on our free website and app.




Written by Lindsey Jurca. To help keep the beach-going public safe, Heal the Bay created The Beach Report Card over 30 years ago. The Beach Report Card is an important and comprehensive public health tool, providing weekly and annual water quality grades based on bacterial pollution at over 700 beaches from Washington to Tijuana.