To catch a wave at First Point is to commune with ghosts. Gliding across a head-high set wave, I’m pretty sure I heard Dora whisper, “Drop your shorts, kid.”

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The roof deck of the Surfrider Malibu looks out over the hallowed waters of First Point. On a recent sun-drenched evening, Après Surf in one hand and tortilla chip heaping with fresh guacamole in the other, I watched Trace and Marshall cross-step and hang ten and soul arch, Allen Sarlo bang the lip with the fervor of a buckin’ bronco, and Andy Lyon dance across the highline with a matador’s grace.

These are the present-day Malibu surf gods, and it was as if they were performing solely for me. Neil Young’s “Walk On” played on the Bose speakers. A lone deer ambled up the adjacent hillside. Malibu Carl strolled down the PCH sidewalk. I know Malibu Carl – have known him nearly three decades.

“Hey kook, get off of my wave!” I shouted.

“Hey kook, throw me down one of them chips,” shouted Malibu Carl.

I did.

And he caught it.

In his mouth.

Which is to say that the Surfrider Malibu experience is about as close as you’ll get to staying with a friend who lives a tortilla chip’s toss from First Point, but with a better view, finer food, and cleaner sheets. And that Après Surf! It’s a signature drink concocted by the lovely Surfrider proprietors. It consists of mescal, lime juice, and Aperol. It goes down real smooth.

The roof deck is a social hub. The seats are cozy, fire pit crackles, and guests gather there at sunset. On the evening of my visit I met a surfer from Biarritz, an art director from NYC, and a photographer from Sydney. The surfer was there solely for the waves. The art director and photographer were shooting a fashion editorial at Zuma Beach, which is just a few miles up the coast.

I got to talking with Travis, one of the Surfrider proprietors. He told me that he’ll often zap guests up to some of the further north breaks if they are without wheels. That goes for boards, too. Next to the outdoor shower with Grown Alchemist amenities there’s a whole rack of ‘em.

“Help yourself,” said Travis.

I did lots of surfing at First Point and I marveled at the great characters that hang out in the parking lot. It was almost a surfboard fair – traditional longboards bumped rails with displacement hulls and gliders and stubby twin-fins and Tom Curren-era thrusters.

Malibu oozes surf history – Gidget, Miki Dora, Malibu Barbie, Chevy Malibu – and that stuff is palpable. To catch a wave at First Point is to commune with ghosts. Gliding across a head-high set wave, I’m pretty sure I heard Dora whisper, “Drop your shorts, kid.”

So you go from surf to roof deck to a couple Apres Surfs – and then what?

Well, there are many restaurants, all within walking distance. There’s the Malibu Country Mart with upscale boutiques and art galleries. There’s the stellar Caffe Luxxe, a pleasant little strut to the south. Or, you do like I did. You get it all from First Point and Surfrider Malibu. You ride about 100 waves, and you take your meals on the roof deck, and you make a bunch of new friends. And at the end of the evening you duck downstairs to your 250 square-foot room, slide into your cushy Parachute robe, grab a little night cap from the mini bar, lay back on the teak queen-sized bed fitted with the finest Bellino linens, and listen for Mr. Dora.

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