Balboa Pier – Things To Do (+ Newport Beach)

The city of Newport Beach, Orange County, lies in Southern California and is considered a part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. This coastal town is home to numerous beachfront shops, restaurants, and the famous Balboa Pier.

Balboa Pier is your typical boardwalk with a cement path and a thick wooden railing running over the crashing waves of the Pacific. At one end is Peninsula Park, with palm trees and vast lawns. Then, on the other end of the Pier is the popular restaurant, Ruby’s Diner.

Waves In The Pacific Ocean And View Of The Beach From Balboa Pie. - California View
Waves In The Pacific Ocean And View Of The Beach From Balboa Pie.

Balboa Pier Overview

Balboa Pier runs nearly three miles over a concrete pathway with thick, wooden railings on both sides. As you walk along the pier, you’ll enjoy looking out onto the Ocean and surfers enjoying its crazy waves. You’ll also find a handful of fishermen lined along the edges of the pier.

Balboa Pier History

The oceanfront Balboa Pier constructed over 100 years ago, in 1906. It was an effort by the Newport Bay investment company to attract people to what was then a split piece of undeveloped sand. This later became the highly popular Balboa Peninsula.

The pier is one of two in the area. Balboa Pier is situated in Newport Beach at the end of 36th Street, near the farthest end of the peninsula, while its twin, Newport Pier, is farther north.

Getting to Balboa Pier

If you’re coming from out of town, take Interstate 405, then turn onto 55 Freeway. It’ll lead you directly to the peninsula.

From there, it’s easy to find Balboa Boulevard. The pier sits at the end of the Boulevard, where the pier is located.

The View

Standing on the pier, you get a terrific view of Balboa Beach with its soft, yellow sand lined with bright-colored beach umbrellas. While the beach is open year-round, it tends to be chilly. The best time to take a nice swim is between June and August when the weather is balmy and the water is warm.

You also get a panoramic view of the ocean to one side that goes as far as your eye can see. Then, on the other side of the pier, the colorful beachfront houses and stores are painted in bright shades of pastels with white trims.

Balboa Pier At Sunrise. - California View
Balboa Pier Sunrise With The Storm Moving In

Fun Things to do at Balboa Pier

Balboa Pier is located off Main Street and East Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach, just near the end of Balboa Peninsula. Here, you’ll enjoy pleasant amenities and some great restaurants and shops. Visitors come to the Pier to enjoy a pleasant stroll, watch the surfers, and look at the peninsula to the south.

As one Instragammer describes Newton Beach in general and Balboa Pier specifically, “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”

 Balboa Pier
LocationNewport Beach, Orange County, Southern California
Fishing pierYes, and since it’s a public pier, you don’t need a fishing license to do any recreational fishing
Water depth25 feet below the pier
Visibility10–15 feet, with fall and winter bringing much better visibility
Parking FeesBetween $1–$6 per hour, depending on the type of vehicle. On holidays, like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day, parking fees are charged by the day and can reach as high as $25
Best time to visitJune–August
Balboa Pier Visitor Details

Balboa Pier: Facts and Figures

Pier Fishing

While Newport Pier is the primary hanging spot for anglers, Balboa Pier offers a more laid-back fishing experience. Everything at Balboa Pier is laid-back and less intense, including the fish.

Yet, this isn’t a problem for the fishermen. In fact, they like it this way because it presents ample opportunity to fish. Seeing only a few anglers standing at the pier may make you reluctant to fish there. You would be surprised to learn that the fishing is as good, if not better, than that at Newport Pier.

For added convenience, pier authorities set up spots to rest your fishing poles and benches so you can take it easy until the next big catch. There are also a few fish cleaning stations along the railing

Check out these kinds of fish typically caught by anglers at the pier:

  • Halibut
  • Bonito
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sculpin
  • Sand shark

Ruby’s Diner

By the time you’re done with your nice stroll along the 3-mile-long pier, you’ll no doubt be ready for a warm, tasty meal. That’s how the founder and CEO of Ruby’s Diner, Doug Cavanaugh, decided where to place his enterprise.

This landmark first opened its doors in 1982. Since then, it’s been serving a hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner of classic American food, such as hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes.

You can choose to eat indoors and enjoy an amazing view of the Pacific. You can also pick something delicious from the menu, dine alfresco, and enjoy an even more spectacular view of the ocean.

Ruby’s Diner has spread to 20 locations in four states. Yet, the majority of diners are in Southern California.

Peninsula Park

Peninsula Park is at the pier’s entrance, right next to the parking lot. So, you can park your car, stroll along the pier, then head back to the park.

There, you’ll find a vast lawn area. It’s perfect for playing soccer, flying a kite, or tossing a frisbee. There are also several pavilions where local bands usually hold summer concerts and other forms of fun entertainment.

Balboa Beach Playground

One of the most beautiful sights from Balboa Pier is Balboa Beach. Not only is it known for its soft sand and beautiful waters, but there’s also a pretty impressive playground on the beach.

It’s located at the base of the pier, so you’ll have no problem getting to it to enjoy some sewing time as you look out to the ocean. An extensive swing set includes four bench swings, three baby swings, and one accessible swing.

There used to be an enormous spider web climber. Unfortunately, it’s no longer there. Yet, there are currently a couple of smaller sets of climbing platforms for kids who want to try out their Spiderman routine.

Newport Balboa Bike Path

Another fun activity is strolling along the scenic Newport Balboa Bike Path. It’s mostly reserved for runners, skaters, and bikers, so if you’re going on foot, watch out!

You can also rent a surrey bike, a four-wheeled carriage type. It has two forward-facing seats, an overhead covering to protect you from the sun, and pedals to move around.

If you’re going with a friend, you can take turns pedaling. Then, just sit back, breathe in the fresh air, and take in the panoramic views around you.

Silhouette Of Men Fishing On The Pier Off Balboa Island Newport Beach At Sunset In Southern California. - California View
Silhouette Of Men Fishing On The Pier Off Balboa Island Newport Beach At Sunset In Southern California.

Balboa Pier Visiting Tips

Check out these tips and tricks to help you make the most of your visit to Balboa Pier.

  1. If you’re visiting during the busy summer season, get there early to find a good parking spot, preferably before 11 am.
  2. It helps save time and effort if you create a ParkMobile account before getting to the pier. This way, you can reload the parking meter directly from the app without having to keep going back and forth to your car.
  3. The waves at Balboa Beach can get pretty high, so talk to the lifeguards before going into the water and get a few pointers.
  4. Remember that there’s a considerable drop-off at the pier’s south side that reaches as deep as 100 feet, while the north side is much more shallow.
  5. While there aren’t any picnic tables, you can bring your picnic and dine on the beach or pier.
  6. There are lots of benches on the pier so you can sit, take in the calming sounds of the surf, and watch the hungry pelicans and seagulls as they keep their eyes glued on the fishermen!
  7. Public restrooms are located next to the playground on the beach.
Long Exposure Captures Slow Moving Waves Under The Seal Beach Pier In Beautiful Seal Beach California. - California View
Long Exposure Captures Slow Moving Waves Under The Seal Beach Pier In Beautiful Seal Beach California.

Balboa Pier Common FAQs

Is there a bike or surrey bike rental shop near the pier?

Yes! Balboa Pier is famous for its Newport Balboa Bike Path, located before the entrance to the pier. There’s a retail area with shops that rent all types of human-powered vehicles. Bear in mind that all these vehicles are prohibited from the Pier. They’re only allowed on the Newport-Balboa Bike Trail.

Are dogs allowed on Balboa Pier?

Dogs aren’t allowed on the pier or beach between 10 am and 4:30 pm. After that, they must be kept on a leash at least 6 feet long.
Also, all dog owners must keep a bag or container to remove any dog waste. Otherwise, you can get fined anywhere between $100–$500.

References:

  • Ruby’s Diner: https://www.rubys.com/locations/balboa-pier/
  • Rent a surrey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESqm6LEtpu4
  • Parking lot: https://www.newportbeachca.gov/i-am-a/visitor/parking/city-parking-lots-and-metered-parking
  • ParkMobile: https://parkmobile.io/