Known as the largest pleasure-craft harbor in the world, Newport Beach, California, is a coastal paradise providing visitors with relaxation, plenty of activities and spectacular sunsets. Stretching 10-miles along the coast of southern California, the area is blessed with warm temperatures year-round making Newport a great stop for visitors during any season.
When cruising into Newport Harbor, you immediately spot the Wedge, a breakpoint famous with surfers for its enormous waves, which can reach 30 feet. Surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding are by far the most popular water activities in the area. Stop in at Balboa Boardsports to rent some gear for the day.
Balboa Peninsula has pristine beaches and two piers, Newport Pier and Balboa Pier, which together attract more than a million visitors each year. It’s where you can board the historic Balboa Island ferry, the oldest family-owned auto ferry in the country. Balboa Island is a quaint and charming community. Stroll along the main drag, Marine Avenue — Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney World’s Main Street, U.S.A. — to explore
the cafes and boutiques.
Outdoor enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a trip to the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve. The 1,000 acres of coastal wetlands are home to 35,000 migratory birds and are threaded with hiking and biking trails such as the 10-mile Back Bay Loop Trail. It’s also an excellent place for kayaking.
For a bit of “landlubber” excitement, head to Fashion Island, a high-end shopping area with specialty boutiques and stores such as Nordstrom, Anthropologie and Bloomingdale’s. The area includes 30 fine-dining restaurants with exceptional ocean views. If you need pampering, schedule an appointment at Spa Gregorie’s (949-644-6672, spagregories.com, which offers many treatment packages, including a “spa date” for two.
If possible, visit Newport Beach some time between December 18-22 to view the 100-plus vessels decked out for the holiday season in celebration of the 105th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. The event is the oldest and largest boat parade in the world.
WHERE TO FUEL UP
Island Marine Fuel (949-673-1103, islandmarinefuel.com) is open 365 days a year, offers diesel and gasoline, and does complete oils changes for vessels.
WHERE TO DOCK
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina (949-729-1100, newportdunes.com) set between the upper-bay nature preserve and Newport Harbor, has extra-wide concrete docks accommodating vessels up to 80 feet.
The City of Newport Beach (949-644-3309, newportbeachca.gov) provides slips for transient boaters on a first-come, first-served basis. Vessels must report to the harbor patrol office at the harbor entrance. You can
also anchor in Newport Harbor for free for up to 14 nights.
WHERE TO DOCK & DINE
Hit Sol Cocina (251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., 949-675-9800) for outstanding Baja cuisine, views of Newport Harbor, and more than 60 artisanal tequilas.
Woody’s Wharf (2318 Newport Blvd., 949-675-0474), located on Balboa Peninsula, is a casual waterfront spot favorited by locals since 1965.