Newport Point is located right on the bend of the Newport Peninsula where it goes from facing SW to facing due S. The wave is just south of the Newport Pier and is sort of lined up with 18th street.
For all intents and purposes I consider Newport Point to be a “gadget wave”…in the sense that it doesn’t really break (that well) all that often. Granted when it gets the perfect mix of swell it can look and sort of act like Pipeline letting you get shacked right out of your gourd. Really though, 9 times out of 10, even when the swell looks right, it just doesn’t live up to your expectations (or you are like me and realize that you don’t really want to surf Pipeline because it scares the poop right out of you and even smaller less deadly versions make you want to surf Trestles that much more).
I think that part of the lure of Newport Point is that it requires a short-period S swell (around 10-12 second periods) to make the wave start to work…and you can only get a S swell with periods that short (and wave heights big enough) from a tropical storm of some sort…usually a hurricane. For people on the west coast, hurricanes are surf bringers. They have us waxing up new boards, thinking about warm water waves from Santa Barbara down through Cabo…it is only natural that we start to romanticize surf spots that only work when there is a huge well positioned tropical storm in their swell windows.
To actually surf Newport Point when it is working you need to have the short-period S-SE swell. A portion of the swell bounces out of the Newport Submarine Canyon and bends back towards the Point right as another set moves in directly from the S. These two waves will combo up right at the point setting up some fast, hollow sections…both rights and lefts…but mostly lefts. The bigger and more stacked up the incoming swell is the better the Point seems to work.
Back in the day when there weren’t surf forecasters, weather satellites, and wave models, Newport Point was sort of a secret spot…it wasn’t consistent enough to be on the surf radar for anyone but the handful of Newport surfers. Now that all the modern world has caught up it is pretty easy to spot the minimum conditions that let the spot work…unfortunately that means that you won’t ever be out alone once the Point really starts to get magical.
Best swell direction: Short-medium period SE-S swell (160-180 degrees and 10-12 second swell periods).
Best Wind: N-NE, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Summer and Early Fall…hurricane season
Crowds: Most of the time it is empty…but expect to wade through some fiberglass if a hurricane is in the swell window.