One thing that is very much the quintessential Southern California day is a day on the water. Orange County has bays, harbors, ocean front property, and lakes for people to flock to all year long. The area gives you all the luxuries of the big city and all the enjoyment of nearby waterways where you can enjoy everything from beach lounging to suntanning on a boat, paddle boarding under the sun, or peacefully kayaking in the perfect California weather.
Newport Bay leaves even OC locals mesmerized by the perfect cross between big city suburbia and small west coast town. Locals and tourists alike enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing and cruising the harbor in a Duffy electric boat. Local shops offer a variety of rentals for day and hourly rates. You can even catch a ferry to head over from mainland Newport to Balboa Island where time slows and mom and pop shops flow from one to the next. In the Bay you can even sign up for activities like whale watching tours or stand up paddle board yoga, where you can test your balance and flexibility on the water while the threat of falling in looms! Newport Bay is a great California destination with much to offer.
Huntington Beach makes anyone immediately think about the Beach Boys… I mean Surf City. When thinking of what to do in Huntington Beach the low hanging fruit is surfing, including competitions for the most advanced surfers at the US Open every July. If you don’t know how to surf already, Huntington Beach gives you the opportunity to learn from some of the best instructors in the world, like Corky Carroll’s Surf School.
Huntington Harbour, however, offers other adventurers like stand up paddle boarding, Duffy Boats, Kayaks and even gondola rides. Sunset Rentals can help you with your rental needs, or if you own your own kayak or SUP, you can launch from one of the many small public beach areas in the Harbour. Huntington Harbour is high end but offers a shallow water way to explore, get some exercise and enjoy a day on the water.
Laguna offers you the full capability to enjoy a day by the water amongst local art and high end restaurants. However, Laguna also offers scuba diving that draws hundreds of divers every diveable weekend day. Scuba diving is a huge draw in Laguna in places such as Diver’s cove, Heisler Park, and Shaw’s Cove, where large, active reefs loom a mere 30-feet underwater where you can spot fish (including the state fish, Garibaldi), octopus, squid, lobster, and other marine life. While this is not accessible to all beach goers, with proper training you can see one of California’s best scuba diving spots. For those less inclined to take the plunge, snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding are close seconds for Laguna Beach activities on the water.
Dana Point Harbor
Dana Point Harbor is a very popular destination for whale watchers and is known as the “Whale Capital of the West.” The harbor is also known as Baby Beach, a breakwater protects the area from rough waters, making it especially family-friendly. Dana Point Harbor has a rich history in Orange County, the harbor is a great destination for stand up paddle board enthusiasts, kayakers, parasailing and boating. Dana Point Harbor is also a great place for families of all ages to swim and spend a relaxing day on the water.
Irvine Regional Park
Irvine Regional Park gives visitors the ability to enjoy California weather season after season. Irvine is the perfect local gem to rent 2 to 3 rider paddle boats and to enjoy the perfect OC day after a hike or some time at the Orange County zoo. The park also offers group rates for groups of at least ten. Be sure to check out the park for your next outdoor excursion!
Heritage Park in Irvine
Summer brings heat and the enjoyment of exploring area parks, stepping out of the mundane to find someplace new and exciting. Heritage Park offers options outside of the typical park day which include public pools and there are splash pads for the younger bunch.
Orange County is very much about life in the sun, and having great activities to enjoy on the water is the best way to spend a day, no matter what season it is.
See our list of splash pads for kids!
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Rebecca grew up in Southern California and never knew anything but summertime weather. She has an undeniable love of writing and recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. She enjoys watching hockey, scuba diving, swimming, and working out.