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The Wedge: Newport Beach

For pros and beginners alike, surfing The Wedge is a big goal. It is one of the most famous and dangerous surf spots in the world. There are waves here that can reach a height of 30 feet and can create large swells that make it an allure for many surfers due to its size and power.

In this article, we are going to be covering everything you need to know before deciding to delve into the waters of The Wedge and try it out for yourself.

The Wedge

What Is The Wedge?

The Wedge is a surfing destination located in Southern California at the Balboa Peninsula. Historically, the man made jetty was constructed as part of a project in the 1930’s to protect the harbor from bad storms.

Today, the jetty creates the big waves that are characteristic of the wedge. It is possible for the waves here to reach a height of 30 feet, due to the fact that they constantly crash against each other, creating an even stronger wave. These two factors make it a must-do for expert surfers looking to experience The Wedge.

History of The Wedge

As mentioned above, the jetty that causes The Wedge was originally created to protect ships and the harbor from bad storms. Before this, Newport Harbor was considered one of the most dangerous harbors for boats and ships coming in, resulting in many deaths.

After the death of his son in 1926, George Rogers dedicated his life to making the harbor a much safer spot for boats. In his efforts to extend the jetty 900 additional feet, he unintentionally created one of the most legendary surfing spots in history.

The waves created by the jetty attracted surfers from all over, and Newport Harbor soon became one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. The jetty is now known as “the Wedge” and has become a regular stop on the professional surfing circuit.

Is The Wedge Dangerous?

Before we talk about what to consider when choosing to ride the wedge, it’s important to discuss the potential dangers that can come with it. The wedge is not for beginners, as the large swells and harsh current can be dangerous or deadly if you’re not prepared.

Beginners should instead opt for calmer waters and easier waves, such as a beach break or bay. Experienced surfers should double check the local conditions before venturing out and make themselves aware of any notices posted once they arrive.

What Makes the Waves Big at The Wedge

The waves at The Wedge are big due to a combination of factors including interactions between underwater features, waves, and currents.

  1. Underwater Geography: The Wedge is located adjacent to the Newport Beach Harbor entrance, where there’s a rock jetty. The waves that approach this jetty, combined with the natural slope of the sea floor, create a phenomenon known as wave refraction. As the waves bend and refract around the jetty, they can focus and amplify, causing larger and more powerful waves to form.
  2. Shallow Sandbar: There’s a shallow sandbar near The Wedge that interacts with the incoming waves. As the waves approach this sandbar, they rapidly increase in height due to the shallower water causing the waves to “jack up” or steepen, resulting in larger and more powerful waves.
  3. Wave Interference: The waves coming in from the ocean and those reflected by the jetty often collide at The Wedge. This collision of waves creates a phenomenon called wave interference, where the energy from both waves combines and leads to even larger waves.
  4. Wedge Effect: The specific combination of the jetty, sandbar, and wave refraction at The Wedge creates a unique wave phenomenon known as the “wedge effect.” This effect can result in waves doubling in size, breaking intensely, and creating incredibly challenging and thrilling surf conditions.

The biggest waves at The Wedge usually occur when a South-Southwest swell combines with an offshore wind direction from the North. Storms and El Nino are other factors that can contribute to huge waves. The Wedge can produce waves up to 30 feet and 8 to 12 foot waves are not uncommon.

What Kind Of Surfing Can You Do At The Wedge?

At The Wedge, experienced surfers can enjoy bodysurfing, bodyboarding, and of course, surfing. The Wedge is best known for its big waves, so it is ideal for any experienced surfer looking for a thrilling ride.

Surfing types largely depend on conditions on a particular day. Furthermore, The Wedge also implements a blackball flag, meaning no hard boards, in order to maintain safety. This flag will be displayed when it is only safe to bodysurf with no hard boards allowed. The blackball flag is consistently displayed from 10AM–5PM from May to October.

Where is The Wedge?

The Wedge is located at the end of the Balboa Peninsula specifically situated at the intersection of the Newport Beach Harbor entrance and the open ocean. To get the you’ll take Newport Blvd. heading East until it turns into Balboa Blvd., then Ocean Blvd. and then Oceanfront Blvd until you arrive at the end of the Balboa Peninsula at Oceanfront and Channel Rd. Channel Rd. is right after M street where the alphabet streets start a A at the Balboa pier and descend down to M.

While there is no address for The Wedge you can use the address below for navigation, which will take you to Channel Rd. and Oceanfront Blvd.

2296 Channel Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92661

Once you arrive at Channel Rd. and Oceanfront Blvd. follow the rock jetty down to The Wedge where the you’ll see the waves bouncing off the jetty to form perfect waves.

Where to Park at the Wedge?

There are no parking lots near The Wedge but there is free residential street parking on Channel Rd., Ocean Blvd. Oceanfront Blvd. and other nearby streets. Parking is typically easier to find in this area than other parts of the peninsula. Walking or riding a bike to the beach is another option or you could also park at the Balboa Pier and walk 27 blocks to The Wedge. 

Where To Get Surf Supplies Near The Wedge

A wide range of supplies can be found near the Wedge, whether you want to rent a board, or simply need extra wax for your existing board – there are a number of places you can go to get your supplies.

The Frog House Surf Shop

6908 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663

One of Newport Beach’s best surf shops, this store has everything you need to catch waves. The shop’s workers will listen carefully to all of your needs and wants and will suggest the best products for you, including wetsuits and surfboards. They even offer repairs on your equipment if it needs to be fixed.

Daydream Surf Shop

864 W 16th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

If you’re looking for a surf shop that feels like a whole new world, the Daydream surf shop is perfect. In addition to plenty of surfboards for rent, the shop has plenty of accessories and clothing. But one of the most unique aspects of this surf shop is the attached coffeeshop. They offer standard options, but also some absolutely delicious specialty drinks like their rose cardamom latte or the sparkling lavender lemonade.

15th St Surf + Supply

103 15th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

The oldest of the picks on this list, 15th St Surf + Supply has been serving Newport Beach since 1961. They pride themselves on their wide selection of surfboards and knowledgeable staff. The shop is also a great place to hang out and meet other members of the surfing community. In addition to renting out surfboards, boogie boards, and wetsuits, they also offer bike and other beach supply rentals.

The Board Club

408 31st Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

The Board Club is the best place to go if you need a board rental or a surf club to be a part of. Established in 2016 by Peter Belden, the board club offers a great opportunity for OC residents to rent their boards and only worry about hitting the waves. And if you join the board club with an annual membership, you’ll even receive your own custom board.

Navigating The Wedge’s Powerful Currents

As mentioned above, The Wedge can be incredibly dangerous for beginning and sometimes intermediate surfers. Therefore, it is important to take extra precaution when surfing at The Wedge.

One of the most important things you can do to stay safe is stay a safe distance away from the jetty itself, as smacking up against the rocks is one of the most common ways for surfers to get injured at the wedge.

Being aware of your surroundings and other surfers is also vital to safety, as collisions are inevitable when surfing in a busy spot. Lastly, all surfers recommend to avoid going right while surfing The Wedge due to the fact that it’s the most shallow section and leaves you vulnerable to colliding with bodyboarders and strong waves hitting you.

Sightseeing Around The Wedge

If you are just coming to the Wedge to watch, the best and safest spot is to watch from the sand. Whether you’ve had your fill of surfing The Wedge or just watching and photographing the beautiful waves, there’s plenty to do in Newport Beach after you’ve finished! The Wedge area is also a popular spot for fishing and kiteboarding. You can also explore the nearby Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island for even more fun.

The Gillete House
2296 Channel Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92661

At the tip of the Balboa peninsula, right before the jetty and The Wedge, is the Gillette Estate. This historic mansion, built in the early 20th century by razor magnate heir King G. Gillette, has a mythology all its own from who built it (not the razor inventor King C. Gillette) to the brothers who feuded and split the mansion in two.

Fashion Island

When it comes to making the most of your time after catching the waves of The Wedge, Fashion Island is the perfect destination for anyone looking to get some shopping done. This upscale mall is home to a variety of luxury stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It’s also just minutes away from the Newport Beach Pier.

Balboa Fun Zone

The Balboa Fun Zone is the perfect spot to enjoy with the whole family. The Fun Zone has plenty of fun gift shops, restaurants, and plenty of rides, making it an ideal place for an outing. It is also home to the Newport Beach Ferris Wheel, which offers stunning views of the area and is the perfect place to take a romantic evening stroll.

Whale Watching

One of the most popular things to do in Newport Beach is to go whale watching. In summer and the fall, you’ll be greeted by blue whales around the harbor, and during winter and spring, you’ll be able to spot grey whales all around. Newport Beach is also home to dolphins, sea lions, and other marine life.

Sherman Gardens & Library

Lastly, the Sherman Gardens & Library is home to beautiful displays of plants, such as a succulent garden, fresh herbs and veggies, and a café open for breakfast and lunch in the middle of the garden. The library offers a selection of many old books and is a fantastic place to look in to see a piece of Orange County’s history.

Everything to See & Do At Newport Harbor

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Morgan Mulac
Morgan is an avid writer about her journeys and enjoys sharing the beauty California has to offer. She is dedicated to using her writing skills to share her passion for travel with others and to help them discover the best places to eat while on vacation, no matter where she is.