Bucket List Worthy: Paddle Boarding in Newport Beach

Get yourself on the water!

On my most recent trip to Southern California I got to visit one of my favorite places, Newport Beach. The times that I had visited before I got to experience a beautiful sunset while playing with a frisbee on the beach and eaten one of the famous Balboa bars. But this time, I got a far more interactive experience.

When the idea of paddle boarding was first brought up to me, I became pretty nervous. Now I feel comfortable in and on water but the idea of balancing on a board with a paddle in sea water just rubs me the wrong way. All of this was running through my mind, but I had just bought a new swimsuit and desperately wanted to see Newport Beach again so I agreed to go.

If you plan on going be sure to check sites like Groupon because it can really help you save money on a super fun experience.

The original price for a rental and a two hour paddle boarding session is around $30 but after a little shopping around on Groupon, I was able to go for just half of that at $15.

After pre-purchasing the rental and selecting a time slot to paddle board, I had to sign a liability waiver before we were good to go to the rental shop and get out onto the water.

If you are planning to paddle board in Newport, I would recommend going a little earlier than your scheduled time so that you can try to find a free parking spot. Parking is usually pretty tight though, so I would suggest bringing a pocketful of change for a meter just in case.

After showing up the the shop, I had to rent a locker to put my sandals and phone in and after some quick introductions, I was told to head down to the beach to meet my instructor and get my board.

Down at the beach I was given a pink board that matched my swimsuit and given the number one rule of paddle boarding, which is (and I quote) “to stay the hell away from all boats.”

My instructor told me to start out on my knees until I felt comfortable and then make my way up to my feet when I was ready.

With all that in mind, I got on my knees and got pushed out into the water. The day I went was warm and beautiful, with little to no wind so the water wasn’t choppy at all.

We paddled towards a little lighthouse while on our knees before deciding to get up on our feet and try to reach Balboa Island. While I personally never fell, my companion did end up falling into the water, providing some time for him to cool off and giving me a good laugh.

On the way I got to see a wild sea lion in the water. It was so much cooler to see one in nature rather than at the zoo, because I got to really observe how it was acting and playing naturally. From a safe distance I watched it splash around in the water and even hunt for a few fish. I almost felt as if I were in a nature documentary following this creature around in the water.

Standing on the board was difficult at first, trying to find my center of gravity while dealing with wakes from boats and trying to propel myself forward. However, after the first couple minutes or so I began to feel as if it were second nature to me.

While paddle boarding I also got to hang out on a little private beach for a needed break, and even made it to the fun-zone of Balboa Island. I can positively say I had one heck of a time.

Because neither of us brought our phones, we did have a little trouble keeping track of time and ended up going a little over our two hour rental, but the rental shop didn’t really mind.

Paddle boarding at Newport Beach was something that I didn’t know that I needed to do before I did it. I encourage all of you to get your toes a little sandy and maybe fall in once or twice (or if you’re like me, not at all) and add a paddle boarding session to your summer vacation!


Madison LaBerge is an Arizona State University sophomore. She loves her...