Newport Back Bay (kayak)

Trip date: 6/30/2013

Location: Newport Back Bay

Launch: Newport Aquatics Center

Permit/Pass: No fees are required, but the center often holds events and parking is sometimes limited. Please help to preserve opportunities for non-member kayakers by taking care not to stress the center's resources or interfere with events.

Directions: From Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) in Newport Beach drive north-northeast on Dover for 0.7 miles to Westcliff Dr. Turn right (east) onto Westcliff, which almost immediately turns right again as it heads southeast toward the bay. Westcliff dead-ends at Santiago Dr. Turn right. As the road veers left and down toward the water it becomes Polaris Dr. Follow Polaris as it again veers left and parallels the shore as it heads northeast. At Whitecliffs Dr. you'll see the signs for the Newport Aquatic Center. Turn right here and stay to the left as you enter the center's grounds. It's usually okay to drop off kayaks at the end of the lot close to the beach, but please be courteous and remember that this is a member's club.

Portage: A short few yards (longer at low tide) down to the beach. 

Type: Out and back

Distance: 4.1

Rating: Easy/Moderate (factors: heat, wind)

Synopsis: This is a good, pokey paddle. On the down side, it runs through an estuary in the middle of the suburbs, so there are houses on the cliffs, other boats, and regulations to deal with. On the plus side it's a protected area, it's pretty, usually peaceful (unless the wind comes up strong) and there's nearly always interesting wildlfe. You'll likely encounter a good selection of shorebirds , other birds (endangered clapper rails, osprey) and interesting marine life - the estuary acts as a nursery for many marine species.

Track: Newport Back Bay - Newport Beach

Navigation:

  -- From the beach you can either head south toward the bustling Newport Bay and deal with boat wakes and engine exhaust, or point your bow to the north into the protected Back Bay. (Guess which way we go...)

  -- There are really no directions necessary, as the many narrow passages on either side of the main channel are off-limits to boaters. But the main channel is plenty interesting, with a few twists and turns as it trends generally northward. 

  -- The Back Bay serves as a nursery for a good bit of marine life (our last paddle included a lot of drifting over young, skittish stingrays inches beneath our keels) and some protected bird species. As a result part of the bay are often restricted. There are buoys - some with interpretive signs - alerting boaters to boundaries.

  -- After reaching the No Entry buoys, turn and head back to the launch. If you're not a strong paddler pay special attention to the wind, as it can come us quite robustly as the day warms up.

Video: Youtube