A finger of land bordered by the Pacific Ocean and lower Newport Bay, Balboa Peninsula measures only 450 yards at its widest point and roughly 4.5 miles in length. Despite its size, it is home to a broad cross section of residents, including beach-loving students, wealthy boating enthusiasts and growing families.
Slicing the peninsula neatly in half is Balboa Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare lined with the faded, pastel apartment buildings and rows of metered parking spaces that serve summer’s student throngs. With the approach of fall, many apartment windows sport “for rent” signs, and parking spaces are strangely plentiful. Volleyball nets stand lonely guard on quiet beaches, and many of the 250 boats harbored here are protected against a sudden drizzle by aqua-blue canvas sheaths.
With the onset of cooler temperatures the crowds may be gone, but there is still much to offer the visitor in search of weekend entertainment. On the harbor side, ferries make daily trips to Balboa Island, and Santa Catalina Island may be visited by catamaran. Anglers in search of their dinner catch will find Balboa Pier a good bet. But if the fish aren’t biting, the Balboa Pavilion--a restored historic landmark--houses a good seafood restaurant. Nearby, there is even a “fun zone” featuring casual restaurants, shops and a merry-go-round and Ferris wheel for the kids. Bicyclists garbed in light sweaters and long pants may enjoy the beach air as they pedal along the concrete ribbon of sidewalk that borders the coastline.
But for those who insist on experiencing the bracing thrill of the Pacific Ocean, “The Wedge” may be the answer. Armed with Boogie Boards, hardy locals have long sought this pocket of water located on the ocean side of the harbor jetty, where waves can tower to heights of 20 feet. In fact, the waves here were “awesome” enough to be featured in the classic surfing saga, “Endless Summer.”
Area visitors who prefer more relaxing pursuits should seek out the quiet charm of Main Street, where the old post office and pharmacy share the avenue with trendy shops and hair salons.
Morning’s cool, gray mists now intrude well into the day, a signal that summer is not endless. But visitors will still find plenty of incentive to enjoy autumn outdoors on the peninsula.
NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE: BALBOA PENINSULA
Population: (1987 est.) 5,459
1980-88 change: +5.9%
Median Age: 34.9
By sex and age:
Median age: 33.6 years
Median age: 36.9 years
Racial/ethnic mix: White (non-Hispanic), 94%;Hispanic, 5%; Black, less than 1%; Other, 1%
Per capita: 29,571
Median Household: 39,167
Average Household: 59,477
Less than $25,000 30%
More than $75,000 24%