Archive, Field Notes

Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor is known for yachts and sailboats that glide gracefully through the ocean water. For adventure seekers, the harbor offers a variety of activities from paddleboarding and kayaking to sunset cruises. Schedule your trip to Catalina or for a sport fishing adventure for anglers.

⛵Don’t forget to explore picturesque Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula with just a short ferry ride away. Enjoy museums, shops, delicious frozen bananas, and scenic walking paths designed for the perfect summer day destination.

Collins Castle was a two-story private island that was only accessible by bridge or boat. This center photograph was were taken from the harbor.

⚓Balboa was named after Vasco Núñez de Balboa. His crew crossed the Isthmus of Panama to reach the Pacific Ocean in 1513. As the first European to lead an expedition and reach the Pacific, our coastal communities in Newport to San Diego’s Balboa Park are named after him. The city of Newport Beach would not be possible without Captain Dunnells and William Abbott on the vessel called Vaquero. This team is credited for discovering a safe entry into a “new port” in 1870. This landing area had a small wharf and warehouse near the west end of the present Coast Highway/Newport Bay Bridge. The landing was designated Newport by James Irvine, Benjamin Flint, James McFadden, and Robert McFadden. The McFaddens operated a regular shipping service here during the 1870s and 1880s. Today, Newport Pier McFadden Wharf honors this legacy with the namesake. You can go to Newport Landing for a private or commercial charter. Visit Newport Beach to learn more.

🐚Watch Jennifer’s interview as the Founding Director of Balboa Island Museum for Visit Newport Beach at 01:17 to 03:31 for the history of the area.

Begin your journey at the Balboa Island Museum for insight into William Collins’ 1906 development called the Collins Commercial Company. He built a private island and castle for his wife Apolena Collins (one of the aptly named streets that isn’t a semi-precious stone). The island was occupied by the Coast Guard during WWII. Islanders recall these “blackout years” as an interesting period in local history where residents were concerned about Axis power air raids along the Pacific. Starting in the 1920s, the Bal Week era would bring Los Angeles college students for spring break. They would rent cottages and go dancing on the Peninsula at the Rendezvous to listen to Big Band music. This dance hall is where the Balboa swing was invented and bands made their big break.

Wild Goose Captain Bert Minshall hosting the Winston Churchill Society with Dr. David Freeman and Historian Jennifer Keil

The Balboa Island Museum features Hollywood legends that resided on the island like Buddy Epson (on South Bay Front) and Shirley Temple (summers only). Often, John Wayne and Desilu (Lucy and Desi Arnez) were spotted on their boats who had homes in Newport Beach. Today, you can reserve John Wayne’s converted WWII minesweeper that is now a party cruise line called the Wild Goose (USS YMS-328) for a day trip! It is part of the OC Preserve’s historic landmark map registry that also highlights the 1905 built Balboa Pavilion that is a fun restaurant and events center. The Red Car Line extension to central Balboa near the Balboa Pavilion took place on July 4, 1906. This was after only 10 days of construction.

Once you leave Balboa Island and arrive at the Balboa Peninsula by ferry, you will be in the Fun Zone. It has rides and entertainment for all-ages. You can book your same-day jet ski, paddleboard, or Duffy there. Go to the information kiosk for details. Keep walking toward the Pavilion to discover the Newport Beach Historical Society. They were established in 1967 and created historic registered markers throughout the city. See the city of Newport Beach’s historical resource element for details. They have an oral history program with stories about the founding of Newport Beach. Join us at the Grand Opening of the Newport Beach Historical Society on Friday, June 28, 2024 from 5-8pm. Learn  more at

Newport Beach Historical Society post created by 70 Degrees

Newport Harbor Archive

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