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Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula is an upper class area just west of Newport Beach that is worth spending a day exploring.   

Getting There

This man-made peninsula/island is located just off the the coast of Newport Beach, California.  You can easily walk to the peninsula from many Newport hotels.  The scariest part of the walk is crossing the Pacific Coast Highway!  But, once you cross over this busy highway, you can see palm trees and the Pacific Ocean beckoning you in the distance.  To get to the island, just hop on the ferry!

Walking through the area will take you down Marine Avenue and through the business district.  This place is full of super trendy shops and is full of small town California charm.  It can be a nice break from hectic Los Angeles. 

Start With Their Famous Dessert

Be sure to enjoy Balboa’s famous dessert!  A quick stop at one of many walk-up windows will result in the original, tasty, must-have treat…. a frozen banana!  Try it in the classic style which is dipped in chocolate and peanuts. Or, get a little more creative with your toppings!  Regardless, these are a cheap and yummy treat!

Balboa’s Waterfront

With your banana in hand, wind your way down the streets toward the waterfront. You will be awed by the beautiful multi-million dollar homes!  I love how unique each one was in design and décor. The craftsmanship is impressive!  Strolling down the waterfront, I was able to enjoy the good company of residents and their dogs, all out for a morning walk.  No one here seems to have a worry in the world, which made me wonder how everyone on this little island seemed to have such fortunate, carefree lives.

The Auto Ferry

Eventually, you’ll come across the Auto Ferry.  Admittedly, I pondered this ferry for a few minutes not only because I wasn’t totally sure how it worked for pedestrians.  I was shocked by the price too!  It was only $1.00 for the ride across the bay and I really thought that must have been incorrect!  This was my first time on an auto ferry and I really enjoyed watching the cars drive on from Balboa Island, float across the bay, and drive off onto Balboa Peninsula.  

A Glimpse of the Pacific

Getting off the ferry puts you on Palm Avenue. It is nearly a straight shot to the ocean!  Although it was cold and windy, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from sticking my toes in the sand.  Walking down the pier offers great views of the longest stretch of beach in the area and, of course, the vast and beautiful Pacific Ocean!

Balboa Pavilion

Balboa Peninsula also has a pavilion and fun zone. The fun zone has a few basic rides and the pavilion is a great place to launch on whale watching tours and sunset cruises.  The cost for the whale watching tours was much less expensive than I thought for this ritzy area. 

There are plenty of other little shops and sites around the peninsula to see.  Whenever you’re ready to head out, the ferry.  Then, wind your way back through the streets of Balboa Island to top off a day in a quintessential California town.

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40 Comments

  1. Balboa island looks laid-back and quaint. We will absolutely be going sometime this year, we love frozen bananas and the beach. Bananas are one of Scarlett’s favorite treats too– minus the chocolate of course.

  2. Seems great! I would love a frozen babana dipped in chocolate right now. I should have probably eaten before reading this haha! These people with beautiful houses walking around looking like there is no worries in the world, well they are loaded so I’m not surprised haha! $1 car ferry is cheap as chips! Awesome!

    1. It was a really good deal – I thought it must have been incorrect since the area is so expensive! The frozen bananas are only $3.50!!

  3. Aw, Balboa Island seems like a lovely place to visit. Love your photos, especially the picture of the ocean! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

    1. I really wanted to go to Catalina, but didn’t have time. I always love reasons to head back to California!

  4. Thanks for sharing! Balboa Island seems great! Another place that we want to explore now! And we will be crossing the Pacific Highway too as the view seems to be so rewarding! Your pictures are great! Patrick and Cécile from Travel4lifeblog

  5. What a cool and quaint place to explore. Never went here on any of my Cali trips so I’ll have to check it out. Would love to check out the small shops and of course the restaurants.

  6. It all looks exactly how I picture a place like that is by the beach in California. Beautiful spot. The banana stand did make me think of Arrested Development though and laugh…

  7. Love this place! Your post reminded me that I haven’t been there in a long time. I need to plan a day trip to Newport Beach. #feetdotravel

  8. My friend keeps saying we should do a girls trip to Balboa, so this is just what I needed to read. The photos are lovely. The pier is my favorite!

  9. This looks like the perfect place to have a stroll around and enjoy the views. The beach looks amazing too – would probably spend there a good while just looking out on the ocean 🙂

  10. Sounds like a great place for a day trip – cheap ferry, beautiful views and frozen banana sounds delicious as well. Cali has so many cool spots – wish I spent more time there now!

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