Newport Beach, California
With more than 10,000 boats registered to the residents along its bay and interconnecting canal community, it is easy to see why dining by boat is popular in Newport Beach.
1. Balboa Bay Club & Resort’s First Cabin Restaurant prepares stunning meals. The hotel offers a potential respite for those traveling boaters seeking an overnight stay at this AAA four-diamond resort. John Wayne was known to visit the resort’s bar, which is now named Duke’s Place in his honor. Got to Try: The Dover sole melts in your mouth.
2. Gondola Adventures offers romantic dining. Enjoy a lavish meal prepared by the Chart House as an authentic gondolier sculls you away along the bay’s scenic canals. Legend has it that gondoliers are chosen as much for their ability to scull as for their being hard of hearing, so whisper sweet nothings without fear. Got to Try: The seared sea bass is heavenly.
3. Villa Nova, established in 1933, is a classic Italian eatery. The restaurant provides a large floating dock for arriving boaters, and local mariners call this place one of their favorites. The meals are as fit for a king as they are fit for a captain. If it’s your birthday or anniversary, dinner is on the house. Got to Try: The abalone sautéed in lemon butter sauce tastes out of this world.
4. Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, located in Newport Bay’s backwaters, is a high-end RV resort where boaters can either launch their boat or arrive at the floating dock for a meal at the Back Bay Bistro. Got to Try: Sunday’s champagne brunch is extremely popular with locals and not to be missed.
5. The Dock offers an alfresco dining experience featuring a Mediterranean-infused cuisine. Looking kitschy-chic from the water with its buzzing neon “open” sign on the docks, this eatery boasts a fresh decor, and even fresher food, once inside. Got to Try: Grilled hearts of romaine and the crab cakes are two of the standouts at this airy waterside eatery.
6. Sol Cocina is an easy-access dining option for boaters. It features a unique Baja-Mexican menu, with foods prepared in an open kitchen. It’s located in Balboa Marina, so your boat can get serviced while you dine. The creative interpretation of cuisine is evident across the menu. Got to Try: The grilled sweet corn and the wood-grilled Kobe skirt steak are simply outstanding.
7. The Cannery ranks as the most historical dock and dine restaurant in Newport Beach. This converted fish cannery harkens back to the heyday of California’s commercial fishing with a nostalgic yet eclectic atmosphere and features several succulent offerings. Got to Try: The blackened ahi sandwich sets a gourmet standard for fish on a bun.
Things To Do
A visit to Newport Beach by boat would not be complete without touring this harbor to view the homes of celebrities. Dozens of notable stars have lived here, including John Wayne, Jay Leno, Kobe Bryant, Nicolas Cage, Buddy Ebsen and Roy Disney. John Wayne’s former home is situated on Duke’s Point, and his 136-foot motoryacht Wild Goose lies docked nearby. Other activities include whale watching with Davey’s Locker, a visit to Crystal Cove where the movie Beaches with Bette Midler was filmed, a trip to Newport Harbor’s Nautical Museum, or a golf outing to top-rated Pelican Hill.
Docking at any of the Newport Beach restaurants at left is easy via their floating docks. Even though the entire inner bay is a no-wake zone, it wouldn’t hurt to put out a fender or two. The only hazards to be aware of while navigating the harbor would be the profusion of mooring buoys and their attendant pennant lines. Following extensive dredging during the summer of 2011, the entire inner bay offers an unobstructed waterway for smaller craft, making it one of southern California’s most popular boating havens. The tide ranges between five and six feet, and additional free docking is available at more than 10 public docks around the bay.