Local’s Paddle Boarding Adventure from Malibu West to Santa Monica Pier

Malibu’s Jason Riddick poses with his paddle board. 

Well, it doesn’t come close to making the Guinness World Record Book for stand-up paddle boarding, yet this feat may never have been attempted before: on Sept. 11, Malibuite Jason Riddick paddle-boarded 23 miles from the Malibu West Swim Club to the Santa Monica Pier in 8-and-a-half hours without stopping. What’s more, it was a completely spontaneous, unplanned event—he got on the board and decided to just keep going. Luckily, he had some water, a cell phone and a few pieces of candy.

This is Riddick’s account of his adventure, with minor editing:

“When I got on the stand-up paddleboard at Malibu West Swim Club, it was 10:50 a.m., calm and nice, and I figured I’d go a mile or two, but then I just kept going.

I had my cell phone and took a couple calls from my wife during the trip. 

I always wondered what it would be like to do the whole trip from Malibu to Santa Monica by water, because I’d driven it so many times. Once I got to Point Dume, it was super beautiful. When I pulled around the point, one of the surfers off Little Dume asked if he could have a sip of my beer, but I only had water.

I headed for the Malibu Pier and got there around 3 o’clock.

There were two yachts anchored off Carbon Beach, and I paddle-boarded between them. The security guy just waved. Maybe they were there for the surfing contest taking place at Surfrider Beach, but they would’ve been too far away to see anything.

The coast isn’t straight, and there are shortcuts across mini bays that took me as far as a half-mile off shore. I ran into a lifeguard all the way out there, who was training by swimming out to a buoy. 

I was constantly seeing shapes in the water, hoping they weren’t great white sharks. I saw a big gray shape going by, and it turned out to be a dolphin. But it’s cool to see the leopard sharks and all the fish all the way to the bottom.

Once I was about 10 miles from Santa Monica, I started getting exhausted, but finally I thought I could see the Ferris wheel on the pier and figured there was no way I could stop. The biggest temptation was the Taco Bell I could see at the corner of Sunset and PCH, and I really wanted to pull up there.

I had a couple fruit snacks—two packs of gummies, because my kids like them. I didn’t crack one open until almost 15 miles into the trip, and I could then feel the energy coming back into my body.

I made it by 8:30 p.m., and it was dark and kind of scary, and the waves were getting rougher. I fell off the board a few times.  I went all around the Santa Monica Pier, surfed a little wave onto the beach, and then walked to Hotdog on a Stick where my wife was waiting with the SUV.

We stopped at MacDonald’s on the way home, and I power ate junk food. 

After the trip, I posted on Facebook and was surprised at the level of interest from people—I think because we all do that drive so many times.”

He joked that he probably wouldn’t be able to walk 23 miles, but for some reason was able to do it stand-up paddle boarding. He added that the winds and the currents make it much easier to go toward Santa Monica than toward County Line from Malibu West and that it takes judgment to know when conditions are right to go out.

Riddick, an attorney and Malibu West HOA board member, just started stand-up paddle boarding three years ago, after moving to Malibu in 2016 with his wife and three children. He took a few lessons, went out with a neighbor and gradually kept extending the length of his paddle board outings. But the longest trip he’d done previously was from the Malibu West Swim Club up to County Line—a 16-mile round trip. 

His next major paddle boarding goal is to participate in the Catalina Classic, the annual 32-mile paddleboard race from Catalina Island to the Manhattan Beach Pier, held every August since 1955.