The lower streets in Newport…which is basically the area from Newport Point through Balboa Pier and down into the lettered streets of the Balboa Peninsula isn’t really the greatest surf zone. In fact most of it is mix of shore break with a few sandbars setting up a marginally more rideable section.
Most of the time it is on the small dumpy side, unless there is a big S swell in the water then it gets big dumpy and walled up. Occasionally you can get a mix of S swell and bit of W-WSW windswell to cross it up and set up a rideable peak…but honestly I think I can count the number of times I actually saw someone riding a decent wave in these areas on two hands (and this is mostly still in the number streets closer to Newport Point it gets even more shorebreaky as you get closer to Balboa Pier and the lettered streets).
Now while it isn’t great for surfing you can still have a good time bodysurfing and bodyboarding the dumpy closeouts when the swell gets bigger…and the smaller days are actually semi-decent for taking some of the smaller kids out to splash around.
There really isn’t a “magic” swell for this area…just a better than average mix…and if it ever looks really good along this stretch you can rest assured that it will be absolutely firing everywhere else in Orange County. The best mix, like I mentioned above, is actually a moderate sized S-SW swell and bit of short-medium period W-WSW swell to cross it up.
Try and stick to the number streets, and the area with the playground on the sand, (sometimes called Schoolyards)…the further down the peninsula you go the worse the shape will get.
Best swell direction: a mix of S swell (170-190) and W-WSW swell (240-270)
Best Wind: N-NE, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Summer
Crowds: Most of the time it is almost completely empty of surfers…can get a few people in the surf zone on the hot summer weekends.