Credit: Timothy Kwon

12 On-The-Water Activities in Newport Beach for Summer

From Gondola Rides to Floating Tiki Cruises, These Experience Are Worth Adding to Your Summer Bucket List

As the ocean begins to warm and the sun starts to shine a little bit brighter, it can mean only one thing on Orange County’s shorelines: the arrival of summer. And there is no better place to soak up all that summer in SoCal has to offer than the coastal town of Newport Beach. Whether you’re catching some rays on one of the city’s iconic beaches or taking a scenic sunset cruise through the calm canals of Newport Harbor, Newport Beach is the place to be. So slip into your best boating attire and gear up for a summer of sun, sand and sea. Here are 12 on-the-water activities in Newport Beach to enjoy this season.

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Dock and Dine in an Electric Boat

What to Do in OC This Summer
Credit: Joseph Barber Photography

Kicking off our list is one of Newport Beach’s favorite pastimes: the dock-and-dine experience. Be the captain of your own private, all-electric boat as you cruise around scenic Newport Harbor. And while you are more than welcome to bring aboard your own hors d’oeuvres and drinks, we recommend taking a trek to one of the harbor’s acclaimed waterfront restaurants to enjoy some exclusive dockside dining. Simply relax and enjoy the cool ocean air while servers bring your meal to your boat to enjoy on the water. To check out the various boat rental companies in Newport Beach, click here.


Hop Aboard the Catalina Flyer

Credit: Thai Yin

For those looking to embrace a bit of adventure this summer, hop aboard the famous Catalina Flyer—the best way to get to and from the sand-swept shores of Catalina Island. And with multiple departures happening daily, it’s never been easier to experience this island, which is a brief 75-minute boat ride from Newport Harbor. Once there, enjoy some of the best snorkeling, fishing, boating, hiking and camping that Southern California has to offer. Whether you’re simply visiting for the day or staying overnight, a voyage to Catalina makes for the perfect summer day trip.


Go Whale Watching

Credit: Delaney Trowbridge

Among the most magical sights to see is the blue whale migration that occurs off Newport’s coast every summer. Luckily for us, Newport Harbor grants visitors the opportunity to witness this magnificent sight in person. Board one of numerous whale-watching vessels and witness dolphins, sea lions and, of course, whales in their natural habitat. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, however, as this popular experience tends to fill up quickly.


SUP Glow Tour With Pirate Coast Paddle Company

Best Water Activities Newport Beach
Credit: SUP Glow Tour

A favorite summertime activity among Newport locals is stand-up paddleboarding, or “SUPing,” around Newport’s scenic Back Bay. However, for a truly unique, after-dark activity, Pirate Coast Paddle Company offers a nighttime “Glow Tour,” allowing guests to commandeer an LED-lit paddleboard as they experience the bay in a mesmerizing new way. Embark on a one-hour journey along the shores of the bay and enjoy a fun and energizing workout as well.


Enjoy a Scenic Gondola Ride

Best Water Activities Newport Beach
Credit: Gondola Adventures

Those fortunate enough to have visited Venice, Italy, know that a candlelit, sunset gondola ride is among the most romantic adventures in the world. Thanks to Gondola Adventures in Newport Beach, you don’t need to board an international flight to experience the magic of a sunset gondola cruise. Grab your date and board an authentic, paddle-powered gondola captained by an experienced gondolier. They’ll take you and your companion on a scenic tour of the bay’s canals. There are several different experiences you can choose from, including the Amore Cruise, Belissima Dinner Cruise, Dessert Cruise and more.



Sip the Day Away on a Floating Tiki Cruise

Best Water Activities Newport Beach
Credit: Timothy Kwon

For a more tropical adventure, we recommend checking out Newport Beach Tikis. These boasts combine all the beauty of a harbor cruise with the whimsy of a tropical tiki bar. An afternoon spent aboard one of these floating, circular vessels is an absolute blast. Captained by your own personal chauffeur, simply board with up to six guests and cruise around the harbor while sipping your cocktails of choice. Dock-and-dine options are available as well for those looking to enjoy some on-the-water eats during their 90-minute cruise.


Set Sail With Newport Sailing Charters

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For those seeking the pinnacle of on-the-water luxury this summer, take the leap and book a private, captained charter boat via Newport Sailing Charters. Boasting an impressive portfolio of top-of-the-line catamaran sailboats, seafarers will have the opportunity to set sail and explore up and down the OC coast. With tons of deck space, full cabins and galleys, the catamarans are spacious and comfortable. Grab some friends, load up the cooler and get ready to set sail aboard your own private charter!



Private Sushi Experience With Daiji Yacht Club

Multi-course omakase sushi is already an experience on its own. But, adding in the flair and ambiance of dining aboard a yacht makes it a next-level adventure. Hop on the Italian-made cruiser, Granchi, and watch Japanese chef Daiji Uehara work his magic as he prepares a 14-course omakase tasting experience. You’ll get to indulge in the freshest locally caught seafood selections and an extensive selection of sake and beverages.


Romantic Ride With The Boat People Cruise

While there are lots of great options this summer for boating in Newport Beach, a cruise with The Boat People is among the most romantic. Specializing in carefully curated boating experiences, The Boat People, Brooke and Elijah, purchased their own sailboat and turned their passion for the sea into a business, offering picnic cruises to those who love the ocean as much as they do. They offer two unique harbor tours, with one of them even featuring live music!


Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Newport Aquatic Center

While cruising around in luxury is an excellent way to enjoy the warm weather, don’t shy away from more adventurous and invigorating on-the-water activities, such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Newport Aquatic Center offers kayak and paddleboard rentals all summer long, giving you the opportunity to explore the beautiful Back Bay, which is home to 1,000 acres of preserved wetlands and several endangered species. Kayak and paddleboard rental rates start at $20 per hour.


Parasailing With Balboa Parasail

Best Water Activities Newport Beach
Credit: Balboa Parasail

This one’s for all you adrenaline junkies! Balboa Parasail offers one of the safest, easiest and most exciting parasailing experiences around. Combining unbeatable views from above and an adrenaline rush, parasailing allows participants to get an aerial view of Newport’s coastlines as they float high above the crystal-blue waters of the Pacific. The staff at Balboa Parasail is renowned for professionalism, attention to detail and enthusiasm, helping ensure that each ride is as safe and as fun as can be.


Play the Day Away at Newport Dunes Water Park

Credit: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort – Camp

Rounding out our list is one of the most kid-friendly attractions in Newport Beach: the Newport Dunes Water Park. Set on the Back Bay at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina, this inflatable floating water park opens on May 24 and features trampolines, slides and rock walls to climb. Let the kiddos play the day away as you kick back and relax. Or, enjoy watersports like pedal boating, kayaking or paddleboarding. The resort is also kicking off its Tunes at the Dunes concert series on Memorial Day weekend—mark your calendar and come enjoy some live music by the bay!

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