Photos by Jessica Kerner
There are few who would, upon entering the sun-dappled grounds of Calamigos Ranch, automatically assume its connection to Pepperdine. Calamigos is a scant seven miles from Seaver, yet it feels like an eternity from the Spanish architecture and beachfront views. Calamigos Ranch is tucked away in the hills, and difficult to spot if you’ve never been before. The entrance is unassuming at first, and the bumpy dirt road does not give the best of impressions. It doesn’t take long, however, for Calamigos to unveil its true colors.
Students at Calamigos don’t live in dorms or apartments. Instead, they live in rustic houses and cabins. Trees strung with lights line the paths and provide cover from the sun, since the ocean breeze doesn’t quite reach. A short walk takes you to the first of many wedding venues: a large lodge-style ballroom filled with linen-clad tables, always on the ready for a reception. A large window looks out over the grounds, and a waterfall flows over it, adding to the ambiance.
Farther down the path lies a sprawling green lawn. It’s a popular wedding spot, but students use it instead for games like bocce ball. Nearby is a pond stocked with paddle boats. And then there’s Malibu Cafe, resting serenely on a bank and ready for the next Instagram moment. The cafe provides a 10 percent discount for Pepperdine students, and those who live at Calamigos don’t even have to shell out for valet parking!
Past Malibu Cafe are plenty of other hidden treasures, like a pair of adorable cows who will let you pet them if you ask nicely. There’s also a Ferris wheel overlooking a beautiful wedding garden, although it is mostly for decoration. A bit of searching will also take one to the set of Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer” series. The facades are currently being remodeled, however, so hurry down if you want to snap a picture where Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd once stood.
In short, there are few places in Malibu more picturesque to live, which is no small feat. But does that mean it’s a good place for students?
Many seem to think so. “There’s something here for everyone’s tastes,” said Senior Megan Brown.
Brown only moved in a week ago, but said she already fits in nicely.
“It’s a beautiful place, and I definitely made the right choice moving here,” she said.
Senior Corinne Luper agreed, noting that she doesn’t mind the drive if she gets to come home to such a fun place.
“The air conditioning doesn’t hurt either,” Luper added.
Overall, student complaints seem to be minimal. The drive, of course, can’t be helped, but there are some students who wouldn’t be willing to put in the extra 20-minute commute each way. Those with packed social lives who love to be surrounded by friends may also want to reconsider; currently there are only 45 students at Calamigos. It’s definitely a low-key spot, more likely to host a weekend hike than an all-night party.
For those who are up for it, though, Calamigos has much to offer. A community the size of a single freshman dorm means that you will get the chance to know your neighbors — but the sprawling setup means that you’ll still have your alone time. The beautiful locations are great for doing homework, especially if you find that reading at the beach can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth. And outdoorsy people will love all of the opportunities to be outside and active. With everything from paddle boats to pygmy goats, it’s doubtful that you’ll be bored for long. You might even get to see a new show as it’s being filmed!
At the end of the day, though, the most important thing about Calamigos will always be community. When asked why she chose to be an RA at Calamigos instead of Pepperdine’s main campus, junior Lindsay Bass cited the beauty, the adventure and the new opportunities, but most importantly “the amazing people who live here with me.” Calamigos fosters a very unique social environment and may not be the typical college experience. But living in Calamigos will definitely be an adventure, and for the students there, it just might be exactly what they signed up for.
Follow Jessica Kerner on Twitter: @The_Kernster