The opulent, refined town of Newport Beach with it’s 10 miles of waterfront along the Pacific Ocean, may be by the seaside but it is as far away from a budget bucket and spades brigade as can be. You’ll find it in Orange County along the sparkling and highly manicured Californian Riviera just a short drive from John Wayne airport.
You’ve probably guessed that the airport was named after the swaggering movie cowboy dubbed “The “Duke” who lived and died here alongside other Hollywood greats.
Newport Beach still exudes some of that old-time Hollywood feeling, and one way to capture it is through the history of its past resident celebrity greats and their amazing waterside homes, is by Duffy boat.
Must take a Duffy tour
The waterfront at Balboa village has a carnival style Amusement Area with its own colourful ferris wheel that marks out where you can pick up a Duffy boat to tour the harbour. These blue-topped open-sided boats are a quaint type of quiet bay or lake cruiser powered entirely by electricity and I can report, are great fun to manoeuvre.
Our guide, Carolyn Clark, pointed out the celebrity homes as we smoothly glided over the sun speckled harbour water: “That’s where Johne Wayne once lived,” she said nodding her head to a surprislngly unpretentious house on the water’s edge facing Balboa Island. “That’s where Shirley Temple lived – the house at the closest point to the Coast Guard Beach where the peninsula ‘bends’,” adding that the child star was named the first “Miss Newport Beach” at the age of 13. The original house was torn down and replaced by a beautiful home made of stone, glass, and wood.
It was a long list of stars and anecdotes that included Michelle Pfeiffer, Candace Bergen, Chuck Norris, Jay Leno and Nicholas Cage who famously fled Newport after a break in.
Must shop at Fashion Island
On dry land it’s all about the shopping. For those with deep pockets, Fashion Island is pretty stylish with its collection of 200 high end shops such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Urban Decay and Macy’s – you get the picture. It’s a pretty environment, fantastic designer shops with great views.
For a more quirky shopping experience I ventured through the streets along the town’s coast even taking a ferry to Balboa Island to check out the scene comign back with jerky from the Balboa Nut Company and some T-shirt souvenirs from the slightly cramped and slightly chaotic Pier Shop. And some sunscreen.
Crystal cove is also known for its Beachcomber cafe and its totally scrumptious beignets -these puffy treats are similar but lighter than donuts. There’s also a lovely menu of eggs as you like them served with rosemary roasted potatoes, fresh fruit or cottage cheese.