Four miles long but less than a half-mile wide, the Balboa Peninsula has a white-sand beach on its ocean side and countless stylish homes, including the 1926 Lovell Beach House. It’s just inland from the paved beachfront recreational path, across from a small playground. Hotels, restaurants and bars cluster around the peninsula’s two famous piers: Newport Pier near the western end and Balboa Pier at the eastern end. The two-mile oceanfront strip between them teems with beachgoers; people-watching is great.
Near Newport Pier, several shops rent umbrellas, beach chairs, volleyballs and other necessities. For swimming, families will find a more relaxed atmosphere and calmer waves at 10th St and 18th St. The latter beach, also known as Mothers Beach, has a lifeguard, restrooms and a shower.
At the very tip of Balboa Peninsula, by the West Jetty, the Wedge is a bodysurfing, bodyboarding and knee-boarding spot for experts; newcomers should head a few blocks west. Park on Channel Rd or E Ocean Blvd and walk through tiny West Jetty View Park.