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Newport Beach Harbor & Back Bay Kayak Launches


The Newport Harbor and Back Bay are great locations for kayakers of all levels. It is located off Pacific Coast Highway and the southern end of the 55 freeway. Newport Beach is one of the most popular paddling destinations in California as it is conveniently located in the heart of Orange County. 

In Newport Harbor, you can paddle alongside miles of million dollar homes and yachts. The harbor consists of the Balboa peninsula sheltering a number of large man made islands. This side of Newport gets especially busy during the summer, so try to paddle closer to shore to avoid boat traffic. 

In the Newport Back Bay, you will find one of the very few remaining natural estuaries in Southern California. This area is home to many species of aquatic birds, who make their nesting sites on the numerous mud flats in the area. The upper part of the reserve is closed to motor boat traffic and can be a very serene place to paddle. Fishing here is not allowed, only in the harbor past the Highway 1 bridge.

You can also launch your kayak in the Harbor and paddle outside of it. If you paddle south out of the harbor you will go past the scenic rock cliffs of Corona Del Mar. Here you will find Arch Rock, a naturally formed rock bridge coming out of the water. Exercise caution here as it can become quite windy outside the harbor in the afternoon and incoming swells can be large.

This is a very popular fishing area with anglers going after spotted bay bass, calico bass, halibut and sand bass with both bait and artificial lures. Fishing pressure is very high in Newport Harbor, so careful catch and release is important. Newport sees pressure for float tubers, shore fishermen, kayakers and boaters on a daily basis. Flipping and pitching swimbaits on pilings and docks in the harbor can be very productive during a big tidal movement. Trolling crankbaits along docks can also be very effective. 

The kelp fields around Little Corona outside and south of the harbor are a good location for sculpin, rockfish, calico bass and even the occasional sheephead. Bringing a kelp anchor is highly recommended as the wind and current can be quite powerful. These fish accept both artificial lures and bait. If you are coming from the harbor, there is a bait barge on the inside of the jetty where you can get a scoopful of bait for $5. If you are venturing outside of the harbor, it is best to go in the morning as south going winds can really pick up in the afternoon. 

Air temperature in Newport Harbor ranges from the 50s to mid 60s in the winter and the 70s-80s in the summer. Anyone who has paddled there can attest to its ideal paddling conditions.

Kayak Launch Points in Newport Beach: 

North Star Beach (Newport Back Bay)

Newport Beach Harbor Patrol (Newport Harbor)

Balboa Peninsula (Newport Harbor)

Lido Isle (Newport Harbor)