The Newport Back Bay is one of the most convenient destinations for SUP boarding in the Newport Beach area. With ample parking, easy access to the water via North Star Beach, unique ecosystems, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it’s an ideal place for beginners while still providing more advanced paddle boarders with plenty of stimulation and options.
The best launch point when paddle boarding Newport Back Bay is from North Star Beach by the Newport Aquatic Center. There’s plenty of free parking on the sand (the sand isn’t deep or soft, so your regular sedan should have no issues), and if you get there early enough, you may be lucky to snag front-row parking within a stone’s throw to the water! This sandy beach allows for easy launching, and without waves to worry about, getting back out of the water is also a breeze.
North Star Beach is ideal for everyone including families with young children, and though the beach is not technically a “dog beach”, you can also hang out with your pooch in the sandy parking areas and around the picnic tables then walk them through the beach to join you on your SUP when you’re ready to go paddling. We’ve spent several Saturdays parked with our friend’s SUV backed up against the beach, hatch open, and dogs inside or under the picnic benches enjoying the cool breeze, even in the height of summer last year.
Motor-boat traffic is restricted in this area beyond the Newport Dunes region, so the water stays flat and safe for beginners. That said, it’s always wise to check weather conditions for wind and tide, even if it’s just to see which direction you should paddle first (it’s best to plan on having the wind on your back for you return journey when you’re more tired) – it’ll make your day of paddle boarding Newport Back Bay much more pleasant!
If you paddle northeast from the beach (that would be toward the left as you face the water, if you’re directionally challenged like me!), you’ll find an ecological reserve with unique vegetation and bird life. A place where freshwater and ocean water mingle, the reserve consists of salt marsh, mudflat, and marine habitats that attract migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, making for great birdwatching.
For a different scene, paddle your SUP southwest toward the lower bay. Motorized boats have access past the Newport Dunes, so be prepared for some small bow wakes. You’ll initially find more wetlands, and even an island where you can stop off for a break if you’ve been paddling for a while. As you paddle, you’ll also find some marina restaurants to your left where you can stop for a quick bite or a beer. As always, keep in mind that you will have to paddle back before you reach for that second drink!
For more experienced SUP enthusiasts, there’s more adventures to be had by continuing south into the Lower Newport Bay and even out into the open ocean. Keep paddling under the PCH bridge and you’ll find yourself in the Lower Newport Bay with bustling boat traffic and beautiful waterfront residences. To take an open ocean excursion, you’ll need to head southeast toward Balboa Island and out of the harbor through Corona Del Mar Bend.
So, whether you’re brand new to SUP boarding or an expert looking for a convenient launch point, whether you prefer a quiet paddle in nature or the bustling scene of a busy harbor, or even if you want to enjoy the open ocean, everyone can pick their ideal scene for paddle boarding Newport Back Bay!