Nestled in the heart of Newport Beach, CA, is Balboa Island, a small picturesque beach town that sits in the middle of Balboa Bay. The Island is one of five quaint man-made islands built in the early 1900s. Lots now worth several million dollars sold for as little as $25 in 1906.
Your beach day begins as:
~ you navigate your car from Newport's Jamboree Road over the small bridge that leads you onto Balboa Island's Marine Avenue. You'll be greeted by picturesque shops with colorful awnings that will remind you of days gone by. Take time to browse the tiny boutiques. Or simply stop by Dad's for one of their famous frozen bananas. Relax, take time enjoy the ambiance that makes Balboa Island the unique beach town that it is; a place where the locals are friendly, stopping to chat with their neighbors while walking their dogs or while enjoying their morning coffee from the local café.
Stroll the bay fronts to gain extensive views of the bay, and a peek into the Island's many gardens and homes. If you've been to the Island before you'll notice that opulent McMansions have become standard fare, crowding out the charming bungalows that once inhabited the Island. If you look closely, though, you can still find one or two remaining.
As you find your way down to Agate Street, make sure to take the small ferry over to Balboa's Fun Zone on the Newport Beach Peninsula. The ferry ride is a picturesque 800-foot journey that costs just a dollar (50 cents for kids), still one of the better deals in town!
Make sure you come back to the Island for the Holidays. The Island's homes and boats light up for Newport Beach's annual boat parade and Ring of Lights.
Balboa Island will always hold a special place in my heart as I was lucky enough to live on the Island during my twenties. It was a fantastic place to "grow up." I lived with roommates in a small grey bungalow at the end of Topaz Street. We had a view of the Pavilion, and I never took living there for granted. I always felt like I was on vacation. The Island hasn't changed much, except for the newly built McMansions. In those days, we roller skated and biked on the Bayfront sidewalks. In the summertime, outside kid-friendly movies were shown every Friday night at the end of Collins Street by a local resident every one knew as Larry Lifeguard. Today the locals are still just as friendly. You can always find kids running playfully under the piers along the beaches and people strolling the bay fronts to enjoy the gardens and the views. Balboa Island is a must-see when visiting Orange County. You'll be glad you took the time to stop by.
Where to Eat:
Dad's Donut Shop & Bakery
Where to Stay:
Where to Play: