Newport Beach is known for many things, but one of the most affordable, fun attractions is the Balboa Ferry. Operating three flat-bottomed ferry boats that each hold three cars, people, bicycles, strollers and pets, ferry rides cost around $1 per person and an additional $2 for a car, the ferry operates morning till night between Newport Peninsula and Balboa Island.
The approx. 5-10 minute ride offers entertainment outside the craft and on it. Sometimes you may be the only rider, and other times the ferry ride can seem packed with beach-goers, vacationers, and those just wanting to sightsee the local surroundings on a foggy or sunny day.
Some of the entertainment can include the people on the ferry. Among the surprises:
A famous sports athlete paid for everybody's ride on the ferry. We waited for the person to come collect our money (they never forget) and nobody came. We discovered that the handsome, 7-foot athlete and his elegantly-dressed family that hopped out of the luxury SUV to enjoy the ferry ride were in town visiting during a pro-ball competition.
The ferry that couldn't get into shore: On a windy day with turbulent currents one expert ferry driver met a challenge that required 20 extra minutes of navigation to make it into tight-fitting dock where the ferry must line up with the ramp to let the cars off (and not hit the sides of the dock where pedestrians disembark.)
Once in a blue moon things happen. It's been over 20 years and no one can remember anything like the Friday the 13th, 2012. See photos
Be prepared to take pictures of other passengers so they can get a group photo with the Balboa Pavilion in the background.
Count on enjoying the ride. There's never a bad ride, even when it is filled with surprise.
Professionalism - The people that work on the Balboa Ferry make the same trip back & forth day after day dozens of times per shift. Yet they always maintain a professional demeanor, and make the ride a pleasure every time.