Why this darling little island is a must on your Newport Beach itinerary.
Picture this: sparkling blue waters, charming shops, Better Homes & Gardens cottages around every corner. This little paradise known as Balboa Island is just a $1.50 ferry ride from the Newport Beach Peninsula. If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, you just gotta go. Here’s what to plan for:
Getting to Balboa Island
Balboa Island is, well, an island, but it couldn’t be easier to get here. The cutest, most idyllic route is via the Balboa Ferry. Just $1.50 for a pedestrian (bikes and cars are a bit more, kids are a bit less), this is the cheapest harbor cruise in town! The ferry ride takes about 4-5 minutes tops, but it’s a great way to kick off your day on the island. If you prefer sticking to solid ground, there is a bridge that pedestrians and cars can access via PCH. If you’re coming here by car, we suggest snagging the first parking spot you can find, as parking can be a bit tricky on an island as small & beloved as this one!
The Balboa Island Bucket List
This iconic locale has some pretty one-of-a-kind activities that make for some serious memory-making with your crew. Simple but satisfying is a stroll around the entire perimeter of the island. This 1.7 mile walking path gives you a front row view of the harbor and of course, the beautiful Balboa Island homes. Or, venture out onto the harbor with an electric boat. They couldn’t be easier for novices to navigate and Voyagers Rentals has a whole fleet you can rent right from the island. Back on land, the Balboa Island Museum is a small but mighty affair that does a terrific job of showcasing the history of the island. (For starters, did you know Balboa Island is man-made?!). Balboa Candy is another iconic stop, selling all of your favorite vintage candies from yesteryear.
Where to Eat on Balboa Island
When it comes to Balboa Island, Marine Avenue takes center stage. This bustling main street is the hub of all retail, restaurants, and cafes on the island. Reserve a big chunk of your day to explore all it has to offer. Brunch at Wilma’s Patio is a must, while The Royal Hen serves up some serious dinner. 501 Park Ave Bistro is unmatched when it comes to offering food everyone in your group will love (it’s got range, folks!). And don’t even think about leaving without trying a Balboa Bar – ice cream smothered in chocolate and all your favorite toppings – a Newport Beach original.
There’s Great Boutiques, too!
Hold on to your hats, fashionistas! Balboa Island is a treasure trove of boutiques like Etcetera Etc. and Sunny Days, that sell chic, one-of-a-kind coastal finds. Get ready to make waves with eye-catching beach bags, trendy cover-ups, and swimsuits that flatter your curves. But wait, there’s more! Our top pick is Hjom, the home decor mecca (pronounced “home”). Their cool, easeful decor will have your friends asking, “Where did you get that?”
Balboa Island: A Holiday Hub
On Balboa Island, holidays are a feast for the eyes. However, the two standout celebrations for us are 4th of July and Christmas. It seems as though every house, car, business, and boat explodes with lights, banners, and flamboyant decorations. During the Annual Christmas Boat Parade, Balboa Island hosts The Ring of Lights competition, where houses compete in a decorating extravaganza. There’s nothing more festive than walking through the idyllic island with a cup of cider in hand as you view these incredible homes festooned with animatronic Santas, artificial snow, and miles upon miles of Christmas lights. It’s enough holiday spirit to last you a lifetime!