Incredible Experiences On Scenic Balboa Island

Incredible Experiences On Scenic Balboa Island

Incredible Experiences On Scenic Balboa Island

Posted on May 16th, 2022

Newport Beach is well known for its miles of sandy beaches, surfing hotspots, upscale shopping, and endless gourmet dining. But what it isn’t as well known for is a tiny man-made island peppered with charming boutiques and restaurants completely surrounded by boats and yachts. Balboa Island was originally a sandbar that developer William S. Collins turned into an island between 1905 and 1913. Today it’s home to about 3,000 residents. But on weekends and holidays, the population swells as visitors from Southern California venture out to explore the island.

A day trip to Balboa Island can be as simple as strolling through the local shops and restaurants. But if you’re looking for something more active, then get out on the water with a rented boat, paddleboard, or kayak.

1. Take The Ferry

There are two ways to arrive on Balboa Island; by road or by ferry. While it may take longer, the ferry is definitely worth the experience. Or split the difference and arrive by ferry and depart on the road. Starting in 1910, the ferry has been shuttling guests between the island and Balboa Peninsula in various vessels. Today it accommodates three cars at a time alongside pedestrians and cyclists. For a mere $2.25 per vehicle, riders are treated to a lovely view of Newport Harbor. Since the ferry is small, lines can be long, so approach it with patience. Or come early to avoid lines altogether.

2. Learn The History

Balboa Island, like the surrounding city of Newport Beach, has long been a celebrity magnet. Childstar, Shirley Temple, and her family were regular summer visitors to the island. Later actor, Buddy Ebsen, moved into the same house. John Wayne’s famous yacht, Wild Goose, was regularly spotted in the surrounding waters. These and many more stories are told at the Balboa Island Museum. Visitors can learn all about the making of the island, its famous residents, and popular pastimes at the free museum, located on the island’s main street, Marine Ave.

3. Float Your Boat

Balboa Island is located in Newport Harbor, one of the largest recreational boat harbors in the United States. The best way to explore the harbor is on the water. In the absence of commercial watercraft, this is an easy place to rent a boat and float at your leisure. Locals often rent small electric Duffy Boats and ride around gawking at the impressive yachts and fabulous seaside mansions. No experience is needed to pilot a Duffy Boat, which can accommodate eight or 12 people. Voyagers Rentals is located on the island next to the ferry, making it easy to find. Grab some food from a nearby restaurant or pack a picnic to enjoy on the water. If you’re visiting in the evening with your loved one, add a bottle of wine or champagne for a really romantic experience.

If you’d prefer for someone else to pilot the boat, that’s just fine. Several companies offer narrated tours of Newport Harbor including The Fun Zone Boat Company. As you cruise the calm waters, the captain will share the history of the area and point out the homes of celebrities and industry tycoons.

There’s plenty of marine life in and around Newport Harbor, so consider booking a dolphin and whale watching cruise. The types of whales to be seen depend on the seasons, but you may see gray whales, blue whales, humpbacks, and orcas. Davey’s Locker has operated in Newport Beach for over 30 years and has a variety of whale watching cruises to choose from.

4. Be A Kid

Across the water from the island is the Balboa Fun Zone. This seaside amusement park offers rides, games, and plenty of junk food. It’s long been a popular spot for daytime family trips or evening dates for couples.

The Ferris wheel has been providing lovely views of the harbor and the Pacific Ocean since 1936, so definitely take the time for this ride. Or head into the arcade for a few rounds of old fashioned skeeball. And when it’s time to eat, you’ll find plenty of classic food, from hamburgers and corndogs to pizza to ice cream.

Before you leave, stroll to the end of the Fun Zone to see the historic Balboa Pavilion. This Victorian-style building was completed in 1906 and has long served as a navigation point for local boaters. Each night it’s lit up with 1,500 lights.

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Source: Travel Awaits 

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