Balboa Island (Newport Beach) - 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go | Tours & Tickets (with Photos) - Tripadvisor
Balboa Island

Balboa Island, Newport Beach: Address, Phone Number, Balboa Island Reviews: 4.5/5

Balboa Island
Man-made island that features upscale shops, restaurants and an amusement park.
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1,426 reviews
Very good

Toronto, Canada1,489 contributions
Relaxing walk on this fun island
Aug 2019
Enjoyable getaway from big city life. We took a stroll on the pedestrian concrete walkway by the water. Nice fresh air off the water.
Written August 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Littleton, CO98 contributions
Balboa Fun Zone
We went to Balboa Fun Zone in Aug. 2005, and it was great.
It was only a 15 min. drive from Disneyland. We parked in the community parking lot $8 and had a picnic dinner on the beach, then after watching my daughter splash around in the ocean waves, we walked the two blocks to Balboa Fun Zone. The town was so cute, there was even a store that rented bicycles and alot of people were on rented bikes.
The kiddie rides were nothing to brag about, but for about a dollar a ride it was worth it for the kids especially the younger ones.
One of the shopkeepers told my youngest daughter not to touch anything so we found another place to spend our money.
We went on a harbour cruise, the sunset cruise, it was less than $30 for the four of us and was excellent! The boat was nothing to brag about, but the driver narrated the cruise and he was wonderful. He pointed out all the famous people living on the harbour and how much the homes and yachts cost. We saw sea lions, jellyfish, and a wonderful sunset that we will never forget!
The ferry to the man-made island will only carry two cars at a time, but the wait is short for the next ferry.
I will definitely go back to Balboa Island and Newport Beach, I would even like to rent a place there. This was a wonderful way to start our vacation and I would be happy if that was all we went to California for.
Written August 24, 2005
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Helen M
Monterrey, Mexico364 contributions
Love it!
Jul 2019 • Friends
A very cute small place to go and walk, excellent to go shopping. They have really amazing clothes and accessories. There is a place that sells jewelry with natural stones that the owner make them herself beautifully. The frozen banana is the best treat for yourself.. they said it’s originally from there. And a small bakery with delicious pastries (she closes at 2pm) so if you want to try them arrive before that time..
Written July 24, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jo I
London, UK8 contributions
Hire a bike to visit Balboa Island - the only way to travel
We collected our bikes from the shop on the corner near the pier. You can't miss it. They cost us about $18 each for a few hours. We rode them along the path behind the beach in the direction of Balboa Island. Totally awesome, wide beach and peaceful path. It was like cycling through a picture postcard. Then on to the ferry with our bikes, costing next to nothing. We felt like we were 'travelling', reminding us of the carefree times in our youth visiting India and feeling free. Back on the bikes around Balboa Island. We didn't think there was a great deal to see, so it took us only about an hour including a snack. But some of the areas there are surprising - like venice! Such lovely homes. Then back on the bikes on the ferry again. All in all about 3 hours.
Written June 25, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Elmhurst, IL28 contributions
Bike Rentals and Ride from Balboa Peninsula
Apr 2012 • Couples
We drove from the Marriott Newport Coast Resort to Balboa Island. We parked on one of the side streets near the ferry. We then walked to the ferry and took it over to the Balboa Peninsula area of Newport Beach. It cost $1. per person. Then we went to a cute little bike shop called Balboa Bikes and rented some nice cruiser bikes for $10.00 per person for the whole day. The people there are very friendly and have nice bikes. Their address is 601 E. Balboa Blvd. We headed north along the beach and ended up in Huntington Beach. We locked bikes up there and walked around the town and then headed back...wonderful way to spend the afternoon...exercising and sightseeing for a small amount of money.
Written May 1, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Las Vegas, NV279 contributions
Spend the day, park your car and WALK!
Oct 2013 • Family
My wife and I have been visiting Balboa Island together for about 20 years. We now try to make the pilgrimage from Las Vegas at least 3 times a year, with our daughters (5yrs and 2 yrs).

When arriving onto the Island, your best best is to make a right off of Marine Ave and find a spot to park in front of one of the beach houses on the first few streets. Parking is free, but on Marine Ave there is a time limit. The streets are mostly "one way" on the island.

Start your morning at Wilma's Patio. Try one of their bloody Maries. If you're visiting in the fall months, the pumpkin pancakes are a must. I'm not big on pancakes but theirs arereally good.

Kitty-corner to Wilma's Patio is the NBFD Station. On most days you can take a peak into the vehicle bay and browse the many framed pictures on the wall. It's a museum initself. My daughters love to sit in the fire engine for a quick photo opp. They also have a restored fire truck from the 1930s(?).

Spend the next hour or two browsing the shops on Marine Avenue. Most are privately owned and managed, which has a nice sense of community and a laid-back feel. Yes, most shops are a little pricey, but we always find a few bargains when we go. (mostly clothes for my wife. go figure)

Lunch is usually done on the run, though you can easily find plenty of places on Marine Ave to sit down and take a break from the shops. My favorite place for a sit-down lunch is the Park Avenue Cafe, which is down the street from the Balboa Island Ferry. About a 10-minute walk from Marine Avenue.

A stroll around the bigger island takes about 45 minutes. The homes are spectacular and many of the home owners proudly display their living areas via large fold-away windows, allowing passersby to take a peak inside, from the walking path. Most of the island residents are friendly enough, offering a greeting and a smile as you stroll by.

Most weekends offer "Open House" events for realestate sales. It's fun to peak inside of the homes and compare. Some of the homes have been restored to their original 1920s condition, while others are ultra-modern and truly amazing to walk through.

Take the Balboa Island Ferry and head to the peninsula for a walk through the Balboa Fun Zone. You can head to the Balboa Pier and have a shake at the original Ruby's Diner. Best milkshakes on the planet, in my opinion.

Take the ferry back to the island and walk toward Marine Avenue to get your name in for dinner. Our favorites are Wilma's Patio (Great clam chowder), Amelia's (great pasta), and Ciao (Italian fare).

Finish off the day with another stroll around Marine Ave. Get a "World Famous" Balboa Bar from either of the walk-up icecream shops, then stroll around a bit more. The Island feels very different at night. The beach houses seem to transform and look fantastic.

Last advice: COMFORTABLE SHOES!!!!
Written November 15, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Los Angeles, CA248 contributions
There is always money in the banana stand.
May 2013 • Friends
I'm a huge fan of the television show 'Arrested Development.' To celebrate the arrival of a new episodes on Netflix, I invited some friends to join me on a trek to Newport Beach and Balboa Island. I made it our mission to find the Bluth Frozen Banana Stand.

To get to Balboa Island, we drove to Newport Beach and parked at the municipal lot on Palm Ave. You could park at a meter, but those spots have a 2 hour limit and only take coins. A parknig ticket in Newport Beach costs $58. All day parking at the lot on Palm Ave is $15 on a normal day, $25 on holidays.

From there, we walked a few hundred meters to the Balboa Island Ferry gate. Could I have driven right onto the island? Yes. But would it have been nearly as much fun as riding the ferry? No. Could I have brought my car on the ferry? Yes. Would I have found a place to park my car on the island? No. The ferry fare is $1 for adults, $2 for a car. It's a very short ride, but it's ridiculously amusing.

The ferry docks on the western end of Balboa Island. To reach the shops and restaurants, you have to walk about 1km along South Bay Front and up Marine Ave. This is pretty much the whole island. Marine Ave is the main drag, where most of the restaurants and shops are. This is where we would find the legendary Bluth banana stand.

Is the Bluth Banana Stand real? No (except for the one they built to promote the new series, but that's not what I'm talking about). Is the banana stand based on a real banana stand? Yes. It's based on Sugar n Spice (310 Marine Ave.). They sell frozen bananas and Balboa bars, which are vanilla ice cream bars dipped in chocolate and your choice of toppings. Did I buy any of these from Sugar n Spice? No. Instead, I went to Dad's Donuts a few doors down (318 Marine Ave.) and bought a Balboa bar (topped with rainbow sprinkles and butter brickle bits) there. It was good, but ultimately, there is little reason to differentiate between the bars as they are all similar in quality. Next time, I'll go to Sugar n Spice to try their Balboa bar.

You must have a Balboa bar if you're visiting Balboa Island. This is imperative.

After gorging ourselves on ice cream, we went to The Village Inn for lunch. It was Memorial Day, and they had a bottomless mimosa special -- all you can drink for 2 hours, $9. I had the chicken pesto sandwich, and it was delicious. It was served with thick wedge fries. The only problem was the service was slow and the wait staff, though nice folks, appeared to be inexperienced.

After lunch, we walked back along South Bay Front and boarded the ferry back to (the rest of) Newport Beach. It was fun overall. Balboa Island can be throughly explored in about 3 hours (including a slow lunch). I will definitely be returning soon.
Written May 28, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Newport Beach, CA51 contributions
Horrible experience
Nov 2020
Really sad how only about 50% of the people walking in town are wearing masks. Many carry in their hand. Orange County is now mandated to wear a mask outside at all times. Narrow sidewalks and people walk by you talking w.o. a mask. May be locals since a lot are walking their dogs. No wonder Orange County moved back to the most restrictive tier. Won't be going back.
Written November 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Brad L
Newport Beach, CA32 contributions
Fun place
Jan 2015 • Family
We live 2 miles away and gone often since our girl was a baby; as a teen we go less but it's still on the top 10 outing list.

The island itself is mainly about the high end tourist shops and restaurants. We have a few favorites, and a few we know to stay clear of; but mostly the former.

Its surrounded by a sidewalk along the harbor and inlets and many multi-million dollar homes. It's quite the zoo at XMAS and Halloween. The XMAS boat parades that are must-see, but arrive 2 or 3 hours early.

About a 1 mile walk (or short drive) is the ferry to the Peninsula. That has a Ferris wheel, boating rentals and adventures, more restaurants and beach walks, although it's perhaps a couple notches down below the island in consistency. That said, the Peninsula has 2 of our favorite restaurant destinations - BJs Pizza and a large seafood restaurant with great happy hour orderves overlooking the harbor and it's sites. The Pizza place next to the ferry is also really good. Some of the snack shops range from "eeeh" to "yikes!".

Back to the Island. I think we mainly like it because after we catch a bite; we really enjoy walking the neighborhood and admiring what the multi-millionaires have done with their places (ie: envy walk). The sidewalk that skirts the whole island along the water is also a very pleasant after-dinner walk.

Parking can be insane on a busy weekend.
Written February 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Medford, OR32 contributions
Take ferry or drive over the bridge!
Apr 2013 • Couples
Somehow we missed the fact that you don't have to take just the ferry to get to this island! There is a bridge you can drive over and drive around! Parking was full everywhere and streets are very busy with people. It was a great place to watch people and families having fun. Shopping looked like fun too. If we had had the time to walk around it would have been worth the time!
Written April 29, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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