Surf, sand, and one of the largest recreational harbor’s on the West coast make Newport Beach one of those places where you don’t want to forget to pack your sunscreen. Here’s how to get a taste of SoCal living on your next trip to Newport Beach.
The Wedge is arguably one of Newport Beach’s must see spots when you’re in town. Located at the eastern tip of the Balboa Peninsula, jetty construction created a shore break that’s been attracting experienced surfers and body surfers since the 1930s. It’s a good spot to sit back on the sand and watch the pros make it look easy.
If you want to get on the water, there’s plenty of ways to do it. One of my favorite ways to do it is whale watching. Actually, there’s a long a list of critters you might come across along the coast of Newport Beach. We met up with 75 to 100 bottle nose dolphin the October morning we set out with Newport Coastal Adventure. We also caught a quick glimpse of a minke whale. Typically 20 to 25 feet long, this whale was probably about the same size as our boat.
Newport Beach has about 10 miles of coastline, so there’s plenty of beaches to choose from. But Crystal Cove State Park does double duty because it’s also a California State Park.
Located in between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove dates back to the 1930s and 40s. 46 beach cottages were built, some of them right on the sand. Today, more than two dozen of the cottages have been restored and a number of them are now affordable beach rentals that just happen to also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They still have those colorful, vintage details, and I don’t think there’s a bad view in the bunch. (Some are dorm style, some are private. Prices range from $37 to $261.) In addition to being a beautiful beach, Crystal Cove is a great spot for tide pooling.
If you’re the type that prefers to keep your feet dry, Newport Beach is easy to explore on a bike. The Newport Balboa Bike Trail stretches along the beach, just shy of three miles. Along the way, you can stop and walk out on the Newport Beach Pier or the Balboa Pier. You can also roll your bikes right onto the ferry that shuttles back and forth to Balboa Island. Marine Avenue, the main drag, offers a lineup of shops and restaurants. Located less than a block from the ferry terminal on the Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Beach & Bicycle Boutique is a great place to pick up rental bikes. Prices start at $10 for a two-hour rental.
The beach, the water, and the lifestyle that typically comes with it is a big draw. But if you’re open to something off the beaten path, go for a walk or a bike ride through the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve. Often referred to as the Back Bay by locals, the 10-plus mile Back Bay Loop Trail runs through the coastal wetlands. Thousands of migratory birds and stunning scenery will keep you more than entertained.
Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by Visit Newport Beach, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.