Point Dume was named by George Vancouver in 1793 in honor of Padre Francisco Dumetz of Mission San Buenaventura.The name was misspelled on Vancouver’s map as “Dume” and was never corrected. In the early 1980s, real estate development interests began pronouncing the name “du-MAY” and spelling it “Dumé”; this did not catch on.
In the mid-1930s, the 900-ton steam-schooner California, of the California Whaling Company, would anchor in Paradise Cove about a mile offshore, near Point Dume, and process whales caught by her two “killer boats”, the Hawk and Port Saunders. She spent about four months there each winter (December–April), mostly flensing gray whales on their annual migration from Alaska to Baja California and back. Emerson Gaze, a reporter who spent a day with the fleet, said they had caught over fifty whales up to late January 1936, nearly all gray (with the exception of a few humpback and sperm whales). Nial O’Malley Keyes, in his book Blubber Ship, reported large numbers of whales were caught within a mile of Malibu (in or before 1934), a reference to the Point Dume operation.
Up until the 1940s, Point Dume was a windblown, treeless bluff covered by native chaparral. Post-WWII the bluff became slowly settled by independent-minded folks, who planted trees and other non-native flora among their single-family homesteads. In 1968, Point Dume Elementary School opened, but closed in 1980. It reopened in 1996 and remains open today, now known as the Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School. By 2007, many of the simple homesteads were torn down to make way for mansions and mega-mansions behind walls, many with expansive ocean views while other large homes were surrounded by mature trees.