February 03

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The ultimate neighborhood guide to Sunset Mesa, Malibu, CA

Malibu California Pacific Coast Aerial

Sunset Mesa is the epitome of luxury living in Southern California. Nestled on the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this sought-after neighborhood – which is considered a part of Malibu – is a coastal paradise.

With its prime location, Sunset Mesa affords its residents breathtaking views of the legendary Pacific Coast Highway and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sunset Mesa is also home to some of the most exclusive properties in the area, including million-dollar estates with luxury features and amenities.

Read more about the Sunset Mesa neighborhood below.


Located between Pacific Palisades and the Topanga Canyon, Sunset Mesa is a residential neighborhood that offers beautiful ocean views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Sunset Mesa was once an archeological site known as “Parker Mesa.” Between the 1920s to the 1950s, archaeologists found artifacts like bowls, knives, cooking utensils, and shell fragments. In the 1960s, two construction companies began developing the area into a residential neighborhood. However, the name of the development projects was undecided. Three tracts of residential land were called Sunset Mesa while the remaining six were named Pacific Riviera. Eventually, the developers settled on the name Sunset Mesa since the Spanish word “mesa,” which means “table,”better described the extensive and flat upland the neighborhood was sitting on.

Because the developers wanted no obstructions standing in the way of the coastal scenery, utility lines were placed underground and low-growing trees were planted. The Sunset Mesa Property Association (SMPOA) was formed to ensure the protection of the views and enforcement of the conditions, covenants, and restrictions.

Today, Sunset Mesa continues to be a sought-after enclave in Los Angeles County. The Pacific Coast Highway is its main thoroughfare, offering access to big cities, popular attractions, and other well-known destinations. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is less than an hour’s drive away from the neighborhood.


Living in a coastal community like Sunset Mesa is an incredible experience. Apart from the area’s unparalleled natural beauty, Sunset Mesa also has a variety of outdoor activities and a strong sense of community.

Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Sunset Mesa:


Sunset Mesa is ideal for those seeking a serene and tranquil environment but with easy access to major cities like Malibu, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, and Los Angeles.

This laidback neighborhood is surrounded by great beaches, including hidden gems, surfing spots, and excellent picnic areas. These are some of the best beaches near the neighborhood:

  • Ratner Beach

    A hidden gem right outside Sunset Mesa, Ratner Beach is a half-mile-long stretch of sand that’s great for swimming, surfing, and watching the sunset. Ratner Beach is a favorite among families and dog owners, and it offers free parking as well.

  • Rocky Beach

    Further down the Pacific Coast Highway is Rocky Beach. Like Ratner Beach, it’s also less crowded than most of the beaches in the area. Rocky Beach offers gorgeous coastal views and a great spot to see the sun set. If you plan on going in the water, just watch out for the rocks hidden inside the water line.

  • Topanga Beach

    Whether you want to surf the waves, soak up the sun, or take a stroll along the shore, Topanga Beach is the best place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Topanga Beach is also a local favorite among beginner and experienced surfers because of its huge waves and surf breaks.

  • Castle Rock Beach

    Named after the 30-foot-tall landmark that once stood on the Pacific Coast Highway, Castle Rock Beach is the perfect destination for picnics. The beach has several scenic spots and shaded areas that offer breathtaking views of the ocean. Swimming is also allowed in Castle Rock Beach.

Sunset Mesa’s hillside location also offers a unique advantage to health and fitness enthusiasts. Those looking for a cardio workout will find that walking or jogging up and down these hills is a great way to get the heart rate up. In Sunset Mesa, residents have the opportunity to stay fit and active while enjoying the natural beauty of the area.


Sunset Mesa is served by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), which is ranked by Niche.com as one of the top 20 school districts in California. There are 9 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools in the SMMUSD. The school district is also rated as one of the best places to teach in California and for being home to the best teachers in the state.

Aside from its top-notch academic programs, SMMUSD is also recognized for its extra-curriculars. The school district offers a variety of learning opportunities outside the classroom, especially for fields like music, the arts, and athletics. Advanced courses, career technical education, and project-based learning programs are offered as well.

See the list of schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District here.

As for private schools, there are two middle schools near Sunset Mesa: Westside Waldorf School and Calvary Christian School. The Westside Waldorf School in Pacific Palisades offers experiential learning and a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the student at each stage of their development. Calvary Christian School is a private independent school that combines learning with technology, music, arts, athletics, and leadership.



A sculpture of Bacchus at the Getty Villa

Sunset Mesa may be a small and quiet residential neighborhood, but it has plenty of must-see attractions around it. The neighborhood’s location along the Pacific Coast Highway also makes it easier to get to nearby attractions in Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Santa Monica.

Located right beside Sunset Mesa is the Getty Villa Museum. Explore a treasure trove of ancient Greek and Roman antiquities, from Roman-era mummies to intricate artifacts. The second floor features a variety of exhibits from museums across the globe. And the most impressive part of the museum is its stunning outdoor garden and Villa dei Papiri-inspired pool. The museum opened in 1997 and continues to be a must-see destination for locals and tourists alike. Visitors must pay an admission fee to enter the Getty Villa Museum. However, members of the Sunset Mesa Property Association (SMPOA) and their guests get a free pass.

Head on east down the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll get to another outstanding museum, the Adamson House Museum. This historic area in Malibu showcases the city’s rich history and heritage in a Spanish Colonial Revival-style beach house. Visitors can learn all about the late Rindge Family, who built and owned the house, and view their artifacts, documents, and photographs during the 1920s. The Adamson House Museum is designated as a California Historical Landmark and is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the advantages of living in Sunset Mesa is being surrounded by incredible outdoor spots. The Santa Monica Mountains, located near the neighborhood, is a well-known destination for hiking, climbing, camping, and other outdoor recreational activities.

The Topanga Lookout Trailhead is a popular trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s an easy, two-mile hike with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and natural landscapes. The majority of the trail is flat until you reach the incline leading to the Topanga Lookout Tower Ruins.

Another hiking destination near Sunset Mesa is the Los Liones Canyon Trailhead. The 2.6-mile path is lined with lush greenery and treats hikers to views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. The trail connects to the East Topanga Fire Road at the summit.

Shopping and dining


Sunset Mesa residents have several retail choices when it comes to luxury shops and independent boutiques. A 10-minute drive away from Sunset Mesa, Palisades Village is a high-end shopping and dining destination in the nearby Pacific Palisades neighborhood. The Village has women, mens, and children’s apparel, home decor, and specialty stores. Some of the luxury brands here include Bottega Veneta, Brunello Cucinelli, Reformation, and Diptyque.

Further down from Pacific Palisades is the Santa Monica Place. Located around 15 minutes from Sunset Mesa, the luxury shopping destination is located in downtown Santa Monica. Discover a mix of prestigious brands like Coach, Hugo Boss, and Louis Vuitton, mid-range fashion retailers, and unique boutiques.

In Sunset Mesa, residents aren’t too far away from excellent dining spots. Along the Pacific Coast Highway are seafood restaurants, wineries, and casual eateries. These are the closest ones to the Sunset Mesa neighborhood:

  • Mastro’s Ocean Club

    Known for their world-class cuisine and outstanding service, Mastro’s Ocean Club is a staple in Malibu’s dining scene. Mastro’s Ocean Club may have different locations throughout the United States but it’s the one on Pacific Highway that stands out the most. The restaurant’s unique seaside location, combined with fantastic ocean views and live music, makes for an amazing dining experience.

    Mastro’s Ocean Club serves premium seafood and steaks, including fresh oysters, Maine lobsters, and Japanese wagyu. Complement your meal with a handcrafted cocktail, a glass of local wine, or a high-quality spirit of your choice from the restaurant’s extensive drinks menu.

  • Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio

    Another popular establishment along the Pacific Coast Highway is the Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio. Featuring a selection of red and white wines, Rosenthal has been the go-to wine bar and tasting room in Malibu since the 1980s. Visitors can book a wine tasting session, enjoy the weekend food truck, or take part in their special events. The wines are grown in Rosenthal’s own hillside vineyard, a 250-acre property that’s just 10 minutes away from the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine

    When it comes to authentic Thai food in Malibu, one doesn’t have to look very far. Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine is also located on the Pacific Coast Highway, around 5 minutes away from Sunset Mesa. Everything on the menu is worth ordering again, from the traditional Thai curries to the crispy golden bags.

  • Moonshadows Malibu

    Nothing beats the upscale dining experience offered by Moonshadows Malibu. With its world-class cuisine, laidback setting, and magnificent sunset views, this Pacific Coast Highway restaurant is an institution in the Malibu dining scene.

  • The restaurant offers an array of fusion dishes derived from American, Asian, and Italian cuisines. Among their signature dishes are the oven-roasted Maine lobster, California-style bouillabaisse, and barbecued octopus. Moonshadows Malibu also has an impressive selection of wines and craft cocktails.

  • Reel Inn Malibu

    Located on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway, Reel Inn Malibu is a local favorite for its fresh seafood fare. After taking your pick of lobster, halibut, sea bass, and mahi-mahi, among others, you can choose how you want it cooked. The restaurant also serves non-seafood dishes like chicken tacos and veggie pasta. Reel Inn Malibu offers both indoor and outdoor seating options.


Having fun in our sea house

Sunset Mesa is a neighborhood synonymous with luxury coastal living. The real estate properties here are incredible, one-of-a-kind residences with spectacular views. Sunset Mesa’s hillside location also creates a sense of seclusion and privacy.

Sunset Mesa has around 500 homes, in various sizes and styles.

  • Mid-Century Modern is the most common architectural style among the homes in this sought-after enclave
  • Contemporary houses and Mediterranean-style villas are also prevalent

Despite its proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Mesa is a relatively quiet area. The roads leading into the neighborhood are primarily used by residents and their visitors.

Real estate in this area is at a premium, thanks to the spacious living areas, well-designed floor plans, and spectacular views. Homes for sale in Sunset Mesa average around $3 million. Some luxury estates can sell for as much as $5.8 million.

Explore your real estate options with James Respondek

Are you thinking about owning a piece of coastal paradise in Sunset Mesa, Pacific Palisades? Navigate the Southern California luxury real estate market with top Realtor James Respondek. With hundreds of properties sold and over $1 billion in transactions closed, there’s no denying that James is a true expert in his field. He stays ahead of the game by adopting the latest market trends and is trusted by generations of clients, celebrities, and high net-worth individuals from around the world.

Schedule a private consultation with James Respondek. Call 310.488.4400 or by sending a message through email.

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