Balboa Pier: 920 feet, 1906 built - 1940 current pier, Wooden - Orange County
Beach hours: 5 a.m. till midnight. Pier Fishing is free. Wash basins, bench seats, periscopes, restaurant.
Balboa Pier is an iconic attraction flanked by a sandy beach and lush, green Peninsula Park with a covered bandstand, tall flag pole, kids sand playground and restrooms at the base of the pier. Part of Balboa Village on Newport Beach's Peninsula, the pier was built in 1906 as a companion attraction to historic Balboa Pavilion directly across Main Street.
On the Balboa Pier you can eat at Ruby's 50-style diner, get forever views by putting coins in the periscopes, sit on benches and watch the surfers below, take a stroll, and enjoy free fishing.
Near the Balboa Pier is Balboa Inn where you can book a room, and a small set of shops offering clothing, souvenirs, swim wear and other stuff. Across the street near the Pavilion is a pharmacy selling staples and beach items, as well. This small enclave of businesses in the "Village" serve both locals whose homes line the Peninsula, and visitors who are day tripping.
Henry Huntington had built his Red Car train line from Los Angeles to beach cities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties as a way to get masses of people to see the small, but growing cities and communities where investors were eager to sell lots for new homes. The Red Car was believed to be their ticket, and indeed, it did the trick in getting folks' interested in the beach lifestyle.
Newport Beach Pavilion was the final Red Car stop. Like other stations along the way, the goal was to provide visitors with fun things to do. Long Beach had its Pike with arcade games and thrill rides, Seal Beach had a pier and fun zone with thrill rides, Huntington Beach had an outdoor plunge pool next to a pier, and Newport Beach had the Pavilion, Fun Zone and pier attractions.
Balboa Pier is one of two major piers on the Peninsula--the other is Newport.
When first constructed, Balboa had the buzz. A plaque at the base of the pier
indicates that an Historic Flight
took place on May 10, 1912, when Glenn L. Martin flew his hydroplane from the sea near the Balboa Pier to Catalina Island. This was the fastest and longest flight over water at that time.
Stars of the black & white silent film era came to Balboa and were seen walking the pier, while much of their filming took place in the Newport Harbor near the Pavilion. Throughout the decades many a celebrity has strolled Balboa Pier, including locals such as John Wayne and Buddy Ebsen, who both owned waterfront homes. (Today you can even take a Hornblower cruise on Wayne's Wild Goose.)
If the Balboa Pier was officially built in 1906, how come the plaque at the Pier states 1940? As you might guess, any wooden pier that sits in the Pacific Ocean for well over 100 years is going to decay or be destroyed by winter storm waves at some point. A dedication to the current pier happened in 1940 after a 1939 hurricane wreaked havoc on both Newport and Balboa Piers. A special meeting of the city council and a vote on a bond issue allowing $130,000 for the construction of the two piers was approved.
More reconstruction has taken place since then, and the public continues to
enjoy the Balboa Pier as a focal point to beach visits.