Newport Beach Harbor and Back Bay Kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board Launch Locations

In Fresh Content, Location Info Guide, Spotlight by [email protected]

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The Newport Beach, Harbor, and Back Bay Paddle Guide

Check out this quick video detailing the launch location below!

Newport Harbor and back bay offer many great launch locations for people of all skill levels to kayak and paddle board. 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 kayak and 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 Beach Back Bay, you will find one of the very few remaining natural estuaries to paddle and kayak in Southern California. This area is home to many species of aquatic birds, who make their nesting sites on the numerous mudflats in the area. The upper part of the reserve is closed to motorboat 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 stand up paddle board and 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 SUP and Kayak 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 are important. Newport sees pressure for float tubers, shore fishermen, SUP 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 sheepshead. 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.

-Perfect Paddles Travel Brief-

Best Time of Year to Visit:
The best travel time for California is from May to September. In these months it is sunny, warm and the likelihood of rain is very low. April and October are also good months for a Californian getaway! For holidaymakers who can't stand high temperatures, I would recommend avoiding the period from July to August. (

Average Temperature:
Much of California has a Mediterranean-like climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. On the coast, the average daily high temperature hovers around 70°F and up, but can occasionally spike to 80°F or more on hottest summer days; freezing temperatures are rare, even in winter. (

SUP Environments to Paddle In

SUP Activity Highlights:
Wildlife Tours
Glow Paddles
SUP Yoga

Wildlife Paddles:
Orange County is truly a beautiful place.  And easily one of the best places to experience all types of marine wildlife from your SUP or kayak including dolphins, seals, whales, manta rays, and more! To get in on a wildlife paddle, use our Locations/Activities guide HERE!


Before heading out, please be honest with your skills and surfing abilities. These breaks are often crowded and need proper care before heading into the lineup. Or, hire a local instructor to take you out and show the proper ettiquete so everyone can have fun

Trestle Beach: Located at the southern tip of Orange County, Trestles is home to some of the best surf spots around. Upper, Lower, and Middle Trestles are frequently visited by experienced surfers who enjoy hollow, powerful waves. With its world-class wave quality, Lower Trestles (Lowers) holds a professional surfing contest every year along with NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) Nationals. As a local favorite, Trestles can be a little crowded, but if you are courteous and respectful to other surfers, you will definitely enjoy your time on these waves.

T-Street Beach: Just south of the San Clemente Pier, T-Street is friendly to surfers of all levels. T-Street gets its name from a “T” shaped pedestrian overpass that allows foot traffic to safely cross the railroad tracks. The San Clemente High School Surf Team is no stranger to T-Street, as they practice there during winter months to maintain their position as one of the best high school surf teams in the nation. Because surfing is so popular here, T-Street is “blackballed” between the hours of 9 AM and 6 PM in the summer, meaning only swimming and boogie boarding is allowed at that time. T-Street’s distant reef produces a consistent frequency that is enjoyable for all levels of surfing.

Doheny Beach: Located in Dana Point, Doheny Beach offers great surfing at its northern end. Doheny is the prime spot for beginner surfers or for those who are looking to catch a less powerful wave. This surf spot is best for longboarding and promises to give some of the longest rides in Orange County.

Laguna Beach, Brooks Street: One of the biggest breaks in Laguna Beach, Brooks Street is a local favorite. South swells attract many experienced surfers and provide long, powerful waves that start breaking out at the reef. Low tides can expose sharp rocks and surfers should use caution when paddling out and know how to surf a rocky bottom. Brooks Street is home to the oldest surf contest in the world. The Brooks Street Surfing Classic was started in 1955 and holds the title of the world’s longest-running surf contest.

The Wedge: Located at the east end of the Balboa Peninsula, The Wedge is a local favorite for surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, and bodysurfing. The wedge-shaped waves are a result of the rock jetty that lies on the west side of Newport Harbor. The hollow, fast waves can be very large and unpredictable, even for experienced surfers. Waves reflected off the jetty meet up with incoming waves, making them several feet larger than those in surrounding surf areas. The Wedge is blackballed between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM from May through October, making it a bodyboarding hotspot during the summer months.

Newport Beach, 56th Street: One of the most popular surf spots in Newport Beach, 56th Street is great for pro and amateur surfers alike. Stable wave sections and line-ups add to the overall quality of the surf spot. Hollow waves and a sandy bottom make 56th Street one of the best spots in Newport to catch a wave when surf conditions are good.

Huntington Beach Pier: One of the world’s most iconic surf spots, Huntington Beach offers miles of beach break waves. Located at PCH and Main St, the Huntington Beach Pier area is a classic every surfer should experience. Known as “Surf City, ” Huntington Beach annually holds one of the largest surf competitions in the world, the U.S. Open of Surfing, on the south side of the pier. From beginner surfers to experienced professionals, Huntington Beach Pier is a favorite spot among Orange County surfers.

Perfect Paddles Gear We Like to Get You Ready for Your Trip:

Mustang Beltpack PFD - An essential piece of gear for any paddler. But especially important for anyone paddle boarding swift currents found in and around NYC.

Insta 360 Camera - Capture every moment on the water with the brand-new, fully waterproof, easily transportable Insta Camera!

Insta360 GO 3 camera inside the new Action Pod

Interested in any of these extra activities? Be sure to head HERE to find a list of paddle pros in the area and what they offer!

Additional Attractions (source here):
Southern California is home to some of the best places to visit on the coast including Hollywood and countless beaches! Let’s discover some more!

Disneyland Resort: The Disneyland Resort, commonly known as Disneyland, is an entertainment resort in Anaheim, California. 

Disney California Adventure Park: Disney California Adventure Park, commonly referred to as Disney California Adventure, California Adventure, or DCA, is a theme park located in Anaheim, California. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks, Experiences and Products division.

Newport Beach: Newport Beach, a coastal city in southern California, is known for its large, boat-filled harbor. Balboa Peninsula has 2 piers, Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, plus the Balboa Fun Zone, an old-school amusement park with a Ferris wheel and ocean views. Local beaches include the Wedge, known for its big waves, and Corona del Mar State Beach. The Orange County Museum of Art exhibits modern and contemporary works.

Heisler Park: This beach area offers artsy park benches, sculptures, ocean views, rocky shores & tide pools.

Balboa Island Ferry: The Balboa Island Car Ferry is a ferry service in Newport Beach, California. The ferry boats travel under 1,000 feet from Balboa Island to the Balboa Peninsula and vice versa, reaching a top speed of four miles per hour.

Huntington Beach Pier: The Huntington Beach Pier is a municipal pier located in Huntington Beach, California, at the west end of Main Street and west of Pacific Coast Highway. At 1,850 feet in length, it is one of the longest public piers on the West Coast.

For reference, be sure to check out our Perfect Paddles Activities map! For Southern California, you will find it below:

Perfect Paddles Shops/Outfitters Near the Locations:

1. Paddle Method: Marina Del Rey (Member Deal)2. Goff Tours: Laguna Beach (Member Deal)
3. Bliss Paddle Yoga: Newport Beach (Member Deal)
4. Paddle Sports Center: Santa Barbara (Member Deal)
5. Sunset Standup Paddle: Laguna Beach (Member Deal)
6. SUP with Wade: San Pedro

Member Deals: Don’t forget to take advantage of our fantastic Member Deals for exclusive discounts for our members! To become a member head HERE.


Huntington Beach Harbor is a small harbor with beautiful homes, yachts, and relatively calm paddling conditions. Most of the harbor consists of canals that you can paddle through with kayaks and paddleboards. The harbor consists of five artificial islands; Admiralty, Gilbert, Davenport, Trinidad, and Humboldt. Trinidad Island offers a convenient launch spot in the harbor. The nearby wetland reserve is unfortunately largely inaccessible to personal watercraft such as kayaks and paddleboards, because it is part of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons station.

Kayak and stand up paddle board anglers target the pilings and inlets for saltwater bass and halibut using swimbaits and crankbaits. The fall is spawning time for halibuts moving to the shallower waters of the harbor.

Air temperature in Huntington Harbor ranges from the 50s to mid-60s in the winter and the 70s to 80s in the summer. Conditions are usually pleasant, and the houses protect paddlers on the water from heavy winds to some extent.


Whether you are looking to kayak, paddleboard, or hook up on some fish, Dana Point has it all. In the harbor, you can paddle past picturesque cliffs and beautiful homes. And paddlers can also venture outside of the harbor to explore the waters around Doheny State Beach and further south. Dana Point also hosts a July 4th firework show as well as a Christmas boat parade.

Doheny Beach is a nice calm paddling area protected by the harbor break wall. Exercise caution while paddling on the southern side of the harbor break wall; the swells can become quite strong here.

Dana Point is also a renowned whale-watching location. Gray whales migrate northwards from November to mid-spring, and they migrate southwards during the summer. Blue whales can be seen during the summer months until October. These great creatures can be seen two to six miles offshore, and they sometimes even visit the area to feed. If you do encounter these animals, make sure not to disturb their feeding patterns by approaching too closely. You will often be surprised at how closely the whales will approach you. They are often not kayak shy.

Stand up paddle board and Kayak fishermen have many options in Dana Point. In the harbor, you can target pilings for bass, halibut, and smaller barracuda. Many often go outside of the harbor down south towards Doheny to find halibut, calicos, and even sharks. Make sure to fish during large tidal movements, as these are the most productive times to go out.

Here are some popular SUP and kayak fishing spots in Dana Point:

The Pipe: a reef area extending from Doheny to even further south of Dana Point Harbor. Fishing on the sides of the structure can be very productive. As you would in all the other locations, keep an eye on your fish finder for structure. Fish in 20 to 40 feet of water.

Salt Creek: a kelp bed adjacent to Salt Creek Beach. It is a three-mile paddle from the harbor, but this area can be very productive if there is current moving. Fish close to the structure and kelp here if you're looking to find fish. Do not fish north of here in Laguna as this area is a Marine Protection Zone. Reading up on the tides is recommended before paddling out here, as slack water movement can lead to very unproductive sessions.

SUP surfing in Salt Creek Beach

Doheny Beach: just south of the harbor, the floor is sandy with some kelp on it. Fish the sandy areas near structure in 10-35 feet of water, and you will often pull halibut here. Paddle south towards Capistrano, there is another reef underwater that can be quite fruitful, but be careful paddling too far south of here as the wind can move southwards quickly in the afternoon.

Air temperature in Huntington Harbor ranges from the 50s to mid-60s in the winter and the 70s to 80s in the summer. Conditions are usually pleasant, and the houses protect paddlers on the water from heavy winds to some extent.

Find more great local resources for Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking in Southern California on our So Cal Regional Hub!

About the Author

[email protected]

I'm an outdoors enthusiast with a passion for water and snow sports. If I'm not at my desk making the world a better place for paddle boarders, I'm outside somewhere.

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