NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — “Come down and visit, and I’ll give you a ride on my Duffy.”
My friend, Danny, was offering me a chance to go up and down the Newport Harbor from the vantage point of his electric boat, a Duffy. It’s a Southern California thing and unique to this ritzy enclave of Orange County, about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.
The 10-seater boat, popular in the Newport Beach area, sells for $10,000 to $30,000, and is named after the inventor, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield. You can also rent one, but they’re not cheap — $200 for just two hours on the water.
Or, you could join us on this free photo tour of the harbor and Newport Beach.
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The Newport Harbor is home to some of the most expensive real estate in Southern California, expansive waterfront homes with private docks, whether in Newport Beach itself, or Balboa Island, an enclave of Newport that’s popular for nostalgic summer rentals. (The TV series “Arrested Development” was set on Balboa.)
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The late actor John Wayne lived on Newport Harbor, and his home still stands, easy to point out from the seat of an electric boat, and his old yacht, the Wild Goose, is often in the water on weekends and available for rentals. Buddy Ebsen of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and 1930s movie star Shirley Temple also lived on Balboa.
Our favorite find of the Harbor ride is the pirate home, a labor of love from a pirate fan, who has decked the house out with pirate statues visible only to those in the water..
Newport Beach is unique among beach cities in that the harbor and ocean are so close to each other. There are some sections of the city where you can literally walk two blocks from ocean waves to docked boats on calm water.
The city has two piers, Newport and Balboa. The latter is near the Balboa Peninsula, home to the Balboa Fun Zone, a small amusement park with a ferris wheel and a handful of other rides. It is from here where people can fork over $1 and take the five-minute Balboa Island Ferry ride to the other side to get to the island.
A long boardwalk is chock full of cyclists, joggers, roller bladers and the like, on both Balboa Island and the peninsula.
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