Serious question: Is there any surfing area in the mainland United States more iconic than Malibu? The National Register of Historic Places would say “no” to this query, and announced this week that the Malibu surfing area is now listed as the first surfing related historic place on the list.

Operated by the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places recognizes the historical importance of the 160-acre Malibu surfing area. Its worldwide contributions to surfing and culture include surfboard design and production, being a hotbed for talent, and even the growth of surfing from “Gidget.”

Malibu’s iconic lines. Photo: Courtesy of Jon Steele/Sea of Clouds

As the press release states, “The Malibu Historic District listing establishes a new pathway for coastal conservation — complimenting established protection models based on natural habitats or important species with those based on historical and cultural significance.

“The listing is site-specific and secures protections in state and federal coastal project planning explicitly from the point of view of the area’s significance, in this case surfing.”

Marking a new path for coastal preservation is a huge step for conservationists. The listing was a years-long process undertaken by Sea of Clouds (the organized who researched and authored the Malibu Historic District National Register nomination), the city of Malibu, legislators and various other historical and preservation societies.

California State Senator Henry Stern, whose district includes Malibu, summed up the meaning of Malibu’s inclusion on the list best:

“Never before has a surf spot been officially recognized as a historic place in our National Register. Nowhere is more fitting to be first than First Point, and the magical place that is ‘Surfrider.’ The iconic wave, deep cultural roots dating back thousands of years, and timeless style have always made surfing Malibu historic. Now it’s official.”

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