HI Santa Monica Hostel offers you super facilities, an awesome staff, and fun group activities, but you may be most impressed by its Los Angeles-area location—including the nearby Malibu beaches described below.
Walk three minutes from the HI Santa Monica Hostel entrance and you look down on that view from above.
From one block away, watch LAX Airport planes take off and land in the distance. Walk, run, skateboard, or cycle along a path on the beach, or take a bus to Venice Beach beyond the pier.
If arriving at LAX a $1.25 transit option takes you nearly to HI Santa Monica Hostel’s front door. Similar options exist from Amtrak, Greyhound, and Megabus. (See below).
HI Santa Monica Hostel facilities
With Santa Monica apartments renting for a stratospheric average $3,789 per month, as well as out of this world real estate prices, you may wonder not only 1) how HI Santa Monica can locate in such a nice area, and also 2) how it can afford such nice facilities?
The reason: Santa Monica residents love this hostel. The city has subsidized it over the years.
Love the activities HI Santa Monica offers
Enjoy at least one daily group activity free, except in some cases food, nominal bus or light-rail fares, bike rental fees, and in one case a $5 museum entry fee.
One activity not free ($45 - $55 depending on how and when you pay) though is truly a super bargain >
Each Friday, HI Santa Monica Hostel guests head to Hollywood in limousines, with two drinks in their limo and VIP entrance fees to three clubs included. That means no waiting in queues that seem to go on forever.
Besides such things as ice cream, comedy, and film nights sample free group activities include >
Venice Beach Bike Tours,
Downtown L.A. Walking Tours (highly recommended),
Hiking in Santa Monica Mountains, and
Getty Villa visit with a stop at a beloved Santa Monica Italian deli.
Above: The most well-known and some say most infamous outdoor workout in California: The Santa Monica Stairs. Go for it! Free. Bring water. Do not die. 699 Adelaide Drive.
Day trip to Malibu beaches
Above: Looking out toward Malibu from Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue. Do not let morning fog or low crowds discourage you. Check an hourly weather forecast. You will usually find that these burn off by mid or late morning.
From the southwest side of Broadway between 2nd Street and the Third Street Promenade (one block from HI Santa Monica Hostel) take Los Angeles Metro bus 534 toward Malibu.
Sit on left. Bring water and sunscreen.
Get off at either Busch Drive for Point Dume State Beach and the eastern portion of Zuma Beach or continue to Morning View Drive for the main portion of Zuma Beach.
I suggest returning from Morning View Drive to maximize your chances of getting a right-side seat on the way back.
Read up in advance on how to deal with riptides, as they can be a problem at Zuma.
Above: At 25 seconds into this 51-second video you begin to see Point Dume State Beach in all its glory.
Above: Malibu Pier at sunset.
On the way back, stop at the Malibu Pier and adjacent Malibu Surfriders Beach one of the most famous surfing venues in California. Officially called Malibu Lagoon State Beach it is named for the lagoon and wetlands on site.
The beach is renowned for the length of its rides but not for their size.
Homes in the distance to your right are located in the exclusive Malibu Colony. Avoid approaching them too closely to avoid interactions with private security and police.
Celebrities with homes there now or in the past include
Bruce & Laura Dern,
Rob Reiner, and
To the left beyond the pier Carbon Beach appropriately nicknamed “Billionaires Beach” extends to the east.
The residential architecture you see alone is worth a walk down beyond the commercial area to some of the most expensive and impressive homes in Malibu. Again, do not approach homes too closely.
A great way to access is to walk eastward on Highway One (Pacific Coast Highway) to the brown coastal access sign for the Zonker Harris Access Way between Nobu Malibu restaurant and the home at 22664 Pacific Coast Highway. Then walk eastward along the beach.
Above: The first one minute and 40-seconds of this Air New Zealand safety video features the three of the four Malibu beaches you will experience plus two quick scenes from Venice Beach.
Venice Beach excursion
Above: Cycling from HI Santa Monica to Venice Beach.
Be sure to stop at “Muscle Beach” when you reach Venice Beach, a legendary training venue for Arnold Schwarzenegger and other famous bodybuilders.
The USA fitness movement started in Santa Monica during the 1920s with the arrival of German immigrants who focused on keeping their bodies healthy and strong. You would have found them at original Muscle Beach adjacent to Santa Monica Pier.
They also brought an affinity for organic food. Today, Santa Monica remains a paradise for organic, vegetarian, and vegan dining.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Above: 10 great things to know to make your visit to Universal Studios more enjoyable and less expensive.
The Universal Studios tour offers the premier film studio experience in Southern California. Although not near HI Santa Monica, you reach it easily.
Walk southeastward on 2nd Street to Colorado Avenue. Turn left on Colorado and walk to the Metro Expo Line Station at 4th and Colorado,
Take any Metro Expo Line train to Metro Centre station, its last station,
Transfer to the Red Line subway and get off at the Universal City station,
From across the street, a free shuttle takes you to the Universal Studios entrance.
Stop at Hollywood & Highland Red Line Station
Above: Where celebrity limos pull up to the Academy Awards ceremony adjacent to the Dolby (Kodak) Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
No trip back from Universal Studios would be complete without a stop at the Hollywood and Highland Red-Line Station.
Within ONE block, you find >
Hollywood & Highland complex famed for its Instragramable Hollywood Sign views (day or night). It made the sign its building centerpiece. Check out the views in the northern corners of levels 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Dolby Theatre (formally Kodak), which has become the permanent Academy Awards home.
Chinese Theatre, which also hosted the awards and remains famed for the celebrity body imprints in its courtyard (free).
Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel, which hosted the first Academy Awards. Check out its atmospheric “Old Hollywood” lobby. Marilyn Monroe lived here.
And, of course, the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars at your feet.
Above: Dogtown and the Z-Boys documentary trailer.
You may not know that skateboarding evolved into an extreme sport in the southeastern portion of Santa Monica (Ocean Park neighbourhood) and adjacent Venice Beach - the area called Dogtown.
Although rapidly rising real estate prices have changed its character, that area then was very close to being a slum. This Dogtown section is not meant as an itinerary. It’s just something to be aware of when you are in the area.
The Dogtown and the Z-Boys trailer above shows some highlights of the skateboarding revolution.
Sean Penn, who narrated the film, graduated from Santa Monica High School.
Sony Pictures Studio Tour (formerly MGM Studio)
Meant for serious film buffs, the Sony Pictures Studio Tour lacks the emphasis on entertainment of the Universal one, as you tour a working studio.
Men in Black, Spider-Man, Rocky Balboa, Breaking Bad, Gone with the Wind, Thelma and Louise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Poltergeist, Romeo and Juliet, and on and on.
Classic stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Judy Garland, Katharine
Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, and Spencer Tracy performed on this lot.
From the HI Santa Monica Hostel >
Take any Metro Expo Line train from Metro Expo Line Station at 4th Street and Colorado to Culver City Station.
At the corner of National Boulevard and Washington Boulevard at the station take Culver City bus #1 southwestward to Washington and Overland Avenue.
Walk southeastward on Overland several minutes to the Overland Gate of Sony on your left.
Book online and arrive 30-minues prior to tour. Because latecomers will not be admitted, pad your time getting there.
Hostel World guest reviews give HI Santa Monica a rating of 9.4 out of 10 for safety.
That is understandable as it is located in pleasant downtown neighbourhood that stays very busy into the late evening. All those people around bring greater security.
Nevertheless, Santa Monica and especially Venice Beach are not immune from the safety concerns facing large U.S. urban areas. Be careful. These are not low crime areas. No convenient hostel location in Metro Los Angeles offers that.
After dark, avoid completely unlighted Santa Monica and Venice beaches that do not have a lot of people around.
HI Santa Monica Hostel booking rules
No one who lives within a 30-mile radius.
14 nights maximum stay.
Hostelling International nonmembers pay a $4 membership fee per night upon check-in.
Guests under 18 must be with their parent or guardian.
Get to know Santa Monica area transportation
Above: Santa Monica Metro Expo Line Station.
Forget what you’ve heard about lousy public transportation in Southern California. Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus operates one of the finest transit systems in the U.S. amd it extends into other areas such as the UCLA campus.
Study its route maps and schedules, including its (not so rapid) Rapid 10 service to downtown L.A. during weekday morning rush hours and back weekday afternoons and early evenings. Also, check its Friday and Saturday late night bargain partnership with Lyft.
In addition, L.A. Metro serves both Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Note its Expo light-rail line from downtown Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles via the University of Southern California.
Directions to HI Santa Monica Hostel
Above: Santa Monica’s Big Blue bus serves downtown Santa Monica from the LAX Metro Bus Centre.
From Los Angeles International Airport LAX
Exit your terminal on its arrival level and find the Parking Lots Shuttle Zone sign in the medium. Take the free lot C shuttle to the LAX Metro Bus Centre. Upon arrival ask the driver to point to where Santa Monica’s Big Blue buses stop.
Take Big Blue Bus line #3 toward Santa Monica and get off at 4th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.
Walk two blocks southwest on Santa Monica Boulevard and turn left onto 2nd Street. You find HI Santa Monica hostel one-half block down at 1436 2nd Street.
Currently (August 2019) the LAX shuttle operates to the LAX Metro Bus Centre from 04:00 to 02:00 daily.
Big Blue Bus currently departs the LAX Metro Bus Centre for Santa Monica
Use an Uber-type service or a private shuttle at other times.
From Amtrak Los Angeles Union Station (including Megabus)
Above: Los Angeles Union Station
Follow the signs to the Purple Line and Red Line Metro (subway) platform. Then ride any train to Metro Centre station.
Transfer to an Expo Line light-rail train to Santa Monica.
Get off at its last stop in Santa Monica. Walk two blocks southwest on Colorado Avenue to 2nd Street. Turn right on 2nd and walk one and one-half blocks to the hostel at 1436 2nd Street.
From Greyhound in downtown Los Angeles
Greyhound chose to place its station amid the largest skid road in the United States, a some 50-block district of utter human misery. How Californians with all their wealth (5th largest economy in the world) and creativity can allow such horrific conditions to exist is beyond me. You may wish to use a Uber-type service to the Metro Centre Station downtown and then follow the Amtrak directions (above) from there.
Otherwise, from the bus stop across 7th Street from the station take either Metro bus 60 or 720 to the Metro Centre station and then follow the Amtrak directions above.
Although the Expo line takes you faster, most 720 departures continue on to the HI Santa Monica Hostel area via Beverly Hills on an interesting route.
Enjoy every moment of your time at HI Santa Monica Hostel!