The Newport to Laguna excursion is a fantastic day trip for open ocean paddle boarding enthusiasts who are looking to do a little more than just SUP around one little cove or beach area. There are definitely additional logistical details you’ll need to consider when going on a half to full day tour from point A to point B, but there’s really nothing like spending an entire day floating on the ocean atop your stand up paddle board to unwind and reset your mind and soul!
Firstly, as with any open water SUP excursion, check out the wind and wave forecasts to make sure there won’t be any extreme conditions before you set out. Very large swells could make it difficult to launch or land anywhere outside of the harbor, and exceptionally high winds can make the ocean very choppy, making balancing difficult for anyone who is not super experienced. Going south from Newport to Laguna is generally easier and recommended due to current directions, and there are many great SUP launch-points out of Newport Harbor, especially off Balboa Island and the harbor side of Balboa Peninsula where you can usually find some free parking if you go early. If you’re launching out of any of these points and you’re paddling alone or only have access to a single vehicle between your party, you’ll either need to have someone who is not paddle boarding or utilize a taxi/Uber to do some shuttle services to and from your vehicle either at the beginning or end of your day. Just make sure you make arrangements for your paddle board if taking a cab or if your generous friend doesn’t have a large enough car or racks. If there are two or more people paddle boarding and both of you have vehicles, then you can also leave one car at the starting point and the other at the end point of your adventure route.
An alternative is to launch at the little beach at the end of Cove Street and Fernleaf Avenue and use the Number 1 bus that runs along Hwy 1 as your shuttle service. I prefer to drop my paddleboard off at the launch point (either with my fellow SUP buddies or by locking my board onto the stair railing or the guard rail at the end of the street if I’m alone), then drop my car off at my chosen final destination in Laguna Beach, and catch the bus back to Goldenrod Ave. It’s about a 40-minute ride then a 10-minute walk back to the launch point, but sure beats having to go fetch my car at Newport at the end of the day when I’m beat tired! It’s also a good idea to get started as early as you can to find all-day parking close to the beach – you’ll thank yourself at the end of the day when you have to carry your SUP board back to your car! This launch point is also right by the entrance of the channel, so you’ll be out on the open ocean in no time.
If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with equipment transportations, another convenient way to enjoy your excursion is to take advantage of paddle board rentals. Sup to You is the company I used one time when supping with my husband, and they provide free delivery with their SUP rental which is perfect. They met us at our starting point in Newport to drop the boards to us, then picked them up again at the end point once we were done. They have a daily flat rate without time limit, so you don’t have to be concerned if you’re delayed in your arrival, and even provided us with a locking system so we could lock up the boards and SUP paddles to a railing at our end point while we were able to enjoy a wonderful dinner and drinks with an amazing sunset without having to worry about the equipment!
Once launched, you’ll need to make your way through the channel (just be sure to watch out for boat traffic on your way out!), then head south-east out onto the open ocean to see the Corona del Mar State Beach followed by Little Corona del Mar, after which you’ll start to come upon Arch Rock, then another arched rock. Once past the second arched rock, you’ll begin to approach Crystal Cove State Park. The park is made up of several beaches, tide pools, and plenty of marine life to explore if you want to take a break from supping to do some snorkeling here. I go into the details of each beach and their characteristics in the Paddle Board at Crystal Cove State Park blog, so check it out if you’re interested in exploring this area. There’re also some great spots for lunch around, including the Beachcomber Café, which is conveniently right off the beach.
Once you’ve paddled past the park, you’ll have entered Laguna Beach waters, and will come across a series of little coves starting with Cameo Cove. The great thing about Laguna Beach is that the surf tends to stay pretty small unless there is a large swell, so you could potentially finish up your day by landing onto any of these coves on most days. Just keep in mind that Emerald Bay is a private gated community, though technically not a private beach. You shouldn’t have any problems landing your paddleboard there or getting out of the gate onto the road, but make sure you don’t leave anything behind when leaving since you may not be able to regain access in through the gate.
I personally like to paddle all the way to Laguna’s main beach, past Main Beach Park and down toward Legion Street, since there are a couple of great restaurants on the beach that you can paddle up to here, and I’m usually pretty famished by this time. Just keep in mind that both restaurants get extremely busy on the weekends, so try to make reservations if you choose Driftwood Kitchen. The Deck doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait for your table if you want to eat here – but you can order some drinks and appetizers from their bar and enjoy a beautiful sunset while you wait!