North of Santa Monica, up the Pacific Coast Highway, past rock slides, rollerbladers, and cliffside estates, is Malibu. Home to blockbuster names like Spielberg, Hanks, and Streisand, this ecologically fragile 23-mile stretch of coastline can feel like a world of its own, with its slopes slipping dramatically into the ocean.

In the public imagination Malibu is synonymous with beaches and wealth—but in the past couple of years there’s been some friction between these two signature elements. Some property owners, such as billionaire music producer David Geffen, have come under attack for blocking public access to the beaches in front of their homes. All beaches are technically public, though; if you stay below the mean high-tide mark you’re in the clear.