On the Harbor: a round-up of public docks


I have been keeping an eye on our public docks, so I wanted to share a round-up with you.

Balboa Marina Public Pier

Fifty-foot yachts can tie up at this public pier with plenty of space. The only restaurants are SOL and Tavern House, which are a short walk away. The previous guest slips that are just in back of SOL have been returned to rental with no access. This is a No Fishing dock, and it’s very difficult to maneuver your vessel into these slips with strong currents and a cross breeze. There is also a large amount of vessel traffic in this area. Note that there are two rental side ties for Duffys on the southeast corner of the dock. My observation is the harbor will need to grow into the area should the Bayside Village be redeveloped.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Len Bose

The new Balboa Marina Public Pier

Balboa “Little Island,” Balboa Avenue

I never knew this dock/ramp in the Grand Channel existed. It’s only good for Whalers, small inflatable boats and SUP boards. You must pull your boat onto the sand and anchor/tie down. Odds are good you will get your feet wet, although there is great access to Marine Avenue on Balboa Island.

Park Avenue “Little Island”

This dock will also give you access to Marine Avenue on Balboa Island. There is a public restroom next to the fire station. Public restrooms are open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. in Newport Beach. One of my favorite bars – The Village Inn – is within stumbling distance. This is a very active fishing dock, so working your way into the dock will be challenging.

Coral Public Pier, Balboa Island

This is very clean; the fishing dock has a good amount of mooring traffic. Mooring traffic is where people tie-up for short stays and then return to their moorings. This pier is a short walk to Marine Avenue and the Village Inn. There is enough room for two Duffys. Fishing is restricted between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the public docks, although it has to be a challenging task to enforce. I have heard that Harbor Code enforcement does random night patrols.

Sapphire Public Pier “North Bay Front,” Balboa Island

This is clean and also a fishing dock, just five blocks from Marine Avenue. Keep this dock in mind when your destination is the Village Inn. Should you wish to extend your walk over the Balboa Bridge, the Bayside Restaurant is close by and worth the walk. My guess is that the mooring traffic is light at this location and will offer you the best odds to finding an open spot.

Opal Avenue Public Pier, Balboa Island

This is located next to the Ferry Landing and Island Marine Fuel – a fishing dock, clean with public bathrooms. You are within walking distance to Todos Santos restaurant, serving modern authentic Mexican food. If you consider the difficulty of parking your car on the Island, the odds of finding a parking place on the public dock for your Duffy seem much higher.

Emerald Ave Public Pier “North Bay Front,” Balboa Island

This is a clean fishing dock, and still a short walk to Todos Santos, or you can take a walk around the Island. I would guess this dock has little to no traffic on it.

Rhine Wharf Public Pier

This is located on Lido Park Drive between the Cannery and Bluewater Grill. Both of these restaurants have docks, so the odds of finding an open spot to dine is very strong. It is a short walk from some of my favorite restaurants: Arc Butcher & Baker and The Dock. The Helmsman Ale House is in the area, and 40-ft. yachts can tie up. No fishing is allowed.

Lafayette Public Pier

This is located at 2900 Lafayette Ave. and has been one of the best-kept public pier secrets. In fact, it’s not even on the chart yet. It’s just being refitted and installed this month. It offers everything the Rhine Wharf does and it is all brand new.

19th Street Public Pier

This has a new public restroom, heavy mooring traffic, and the dock is clean with no fishing. Forty-foot yachts can tie up here. You are within walking distance to the Newport Beach Pier, so if you are like many of my friends who go to Blackie’s on Friday night, this is the public dock for your Duffy.

15th Street Public Pier

Expect heavy mooring traffic here along with fishing. The American Legion is next to this pier. You are still in walking distance of Newport Pier, or you can go to church across Balboa Boulevard at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I am hoping my friends on the Harbor Commission will consider this location for some dinghy rack storage for offshore mooring permit holders. Without a doubt, this is the most heavily used public pier on the harbor.

Fernando Street Public Pier

This is a short walk to The Fun Zone, the Balboa Saloon and the Class of 47. There is heavy mooring traffic, it’s clean and it’s a fishing dock. There is a boat waste pump-out station, and this is also a good place for dinghy racks.

Washington Street Public Pier

Located in the middle of the Fun Zone with public restrooms, a fishing dock and heavy traffic, you would be fortunate to find a spot to tie-up. Everything is here – pizza places, ice cream, the Newport Landing restaurant and a liquor store. Across Balboa Boulevard is a wine store, Cruisers Restaurant and a great Mexican restaurant.

M Street Public Pier

Located on the end of the Peninsula at 2144 Channel Road. This is one of the most actively fished public docks in the harbor. Don’t even think about tying up here – leave this pier to the fishermen.

Our Harbormaster Paul Blank and his team are doing an outstanding job keeping the public piers clean and enforcing of the dinghy time limits. In past years, I recall pure anarchy on the public docks. Now they are clean, safe and very accessible. If you are trying to access a public pier and the fishermen just refuse to make room for you to tie-up, you can always give the Harbor Department a call to assist you.

Sea ya.


Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.


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