Ocean Stop for the Beaches at Newport Beach
For the next stop on our 4 week West Coast trip, we took the longest route possible to travel the hour trip from Santa Monica to the beaches at Newport Beach. We continually left the main route to follow the water.
We stopped at the Marine Street Cafe in Manhatten Beach to grab a coffee. But were surprised at the great selection of healthier food. David had the weirdest sandwich I have ever seen – wrapped in rice paper instead of bread.
Arriving In Newport Beach
Rolling in about 4 hours later, we got checked into the Bay Shores On The Peninsula Hotel right on the beaches at Newport Beach.
The small family run hotel offered all the amenities of a great 3 star hotel. We never saw these amenities in the luxury hotel we had just vacated on our stay in Santa Monica. We even kept the first room they showed us! It was a bright room with a sorta view of the beach!
We were delayed a few minutes by the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. But then we easily walked the one block to the long stretch of white beach and to yet one more pier.
Heading To The Beach
The water entry had a gentle slope and over the 3 days we were there we saw some small breaker activity. But never enough to see surfers (although we did see lots of surfer dudes). We saw the beaches at Newport Beach for as far as we looked.
The pier was packed with people fishing. Although all of the buckets we saw were empty, it didn’t seem to dampening the interest.
The beaches at Newport Beach had some stores and restaurants (and a lot of beer bars) at our location. There were more when we went to the far other end of the peninsula.
Dinner And A Sunset
We thought it would be easy to find dinner. But we ultimately had to head off of the beach or wait in unbearably long lines.
The Crab Cooker looked like a local joint, filled mostly with families and workers. For some weird reason, all service was done on disposable plates, cups and cutlery.
I got suckered into yet another “world famous chowder” but it was just ok. Not to miss the seafood platter, David’s crab was huge and he spent a long time finding every scrap of meat in every crevice. I much preferred to watch and have him feed me after he did the work.
Returning to the hotel, we found that the rooftop patio was a great place to watch the sun set. Even if it did set over the buildings and not the water.
We figured it might be a good place to sneak for for a nap late in the day. Or for David to hide away while he ate the homemade chocolate chip cookies rather than the fruit that was available all day.
Another Lazy Day
The next day we spent the day as beach bums. We caught the sun until our pasty Canadian skin looked pink. Not only was the hotel only one block from the beach, it also provided a broad selection of beach stuff. There were chairs, towels, umbrellas and boogie boards. We looked like all the rest of the locals, hauling beach gear like turtles on our back.
That night for dinner we knew to go early for dinner. We were successful this time at getting into the Flying Fish restaurant recommended by our hosts. The New Zealand green mussels were huge. And the sauce so good it required an order of bread so that not a drop was missed.
I always avoided oysters because of a texture issue. But David decided to try the fried oysters. But even frying did not cover the oyster texture. To help combat scurvy, I had a big salad that had a great variety with berries, apples, honey walnuts and chicken.
With salad for dinner, I felt virtuous enough to pounce on the homemade cookies when we got back to the hotel. We snuggled up in bed to stream some video to the hotel tv and decided on an early night.
Unfortunately, the only negative about our great 3 star hotel was the paper thin walls. This required a call downstairs when the neighbor’s movie shaked the shared wall. I was sure the neighbour picked the most obnoxiously loud movie from the free supply of DVDs at the front desk!
Ferry To Balboa Island
On our final day in Newport Beach, we risked losing our hotel parking spot and took the car out for a day trip down the coast. We planned to visit Laguna Beach and Dana Point.
Our host suggested we take the more interesting route. So we got in line for the little 3 car ferry to Balboa Island for $3. It was a short wait to get over and even on the way back the wait was only about 20 minutes.
Balboa Island had a cute little Main Street with lots of shops and restaurants. Golf carts were the predominant transportation on the island. The main street boasted two different “first” locations for frozen bananas. But even that claim to fame did not tempt us to try this local treat.
Balboa Island looked like another option for a place to stay if we returned to the Newport Beach area. Although it would likely mean a private rental.
Down The Pacific Coast To Laguna Beach
We passed several “townlettes” on the way to Laguna Beach. Each had typical beach town shops and large sandy public beaches. Entering the Laguna Beach area, we stopped at Heisler Park and meandered along the walkway above the beach.
Many families moved in all but the kitchen sink for the day. The solo beach goers looked like turtles with backpack beach chairs, umbrellas with sling carriers and beach bags in hand.
This part of the beach had offshore rocks which drew scuba divers. They hauled their gear up and down the long set of stairs. David figured the rock and kelp forest would make the haul worth it.
The main beach in town was at road level. So there was no trek up and down a cliff. There were a couple of different beach access points and lots of parking. But expect a walk. So plan accordingly with what you bring to your beach home away from home.
We moved at slow gawker speed – the drivers watched the beachgoers and shoppers and the pedestrians watched the cars. I just watched the bright yellow lambo!
An Iconic Lunch Spot
There were lots of places to eat in the town but I had one spot in mind. On my last trip to Laguna Beach with my son (10+ years ago), we ate at this really cool roadside diner called Ruby’s Diner.
Driving slowly we finally spotted it in the south end, on the north side of Hwy 1. While there had been some updating done to add a rooftop patio, it remained an old fashioned diner with old classic cars parked as decoration out front.
There was a good, plentiful choice of basic diner food, complimented with the addition of an ice cream parlour. Even though they say “you can’t go back”, this was just as I remembered it!
Continuing south on Hwy 1, we went as far as Dana Point and then headed back to avoid the other Sunday drivers. This gave us a chance to assess our options for leaving the next day for Catalina Island. We wanted to see Dana Point was a better departure point than Newport Beach. Being that far south when we returned from our Catalina Island would make the drive south to San Diego easier. But it meant an extra drive before our early morning ferry.
A Weekend On The Beaches At Newport Beach
We enjoyed a weekend right at the beaches at Newport Beach. It was great to be able to walk from our hotel to the beach. A day trip to Laguna Beach gave us another view of the beaches of the area. And a fun visit to Balboa Island.
The only dent in our lazy weekend was bad news from home (see blog on trip cancellation insurance). We spent a few hours as we assessed options to return. Although later were got a less distorted update on the situation at home. And a strong recommendation that we did not yet need to return home. This unfortunately hang over us. We knew that our trip along the Pacific coast might change with a moments notice if things got worse.
What is your favourite thing about the beaches at Newport Beach and this part of California? We will definitely plan to come back. Has this made it to a favourite for you?
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