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Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society



Balboa Island, California--As you hop off the Balboa Ferry that holds 3-cars and 25 or so people who can climb aboard for a small fee, most tourists and locals who disembark on foot head for strolls along South Bay Front. Public restrooms, a food market and sandwich shop meet all your needs--almost.


On Wednesday and Saturday, Balboa Island Historical Museum invites tourists to come aboard the time capsule to explore the island's fascinating past as part of the City of Newport Beach.


Did you realize that those multi-million dollar homes and mansions you pass by were once an illusive dream of a land developer to turn  swamp land into gold?  At Balboa Island Museum you can see the picture of that swamp that would one day become the gold coast land you're standing on as you examine old photos and memorabilia in the 2nd story office space overlooking the Newport Bay and Balboa Pavilion. Prior to 1906 much of what is now Balboa Island was under water at high tide, and was called Snipe Island by some. Developer W.S. Collins purchases a dredge and built what was to become Balboa Island. Lots were sold a year later for $300 or $600 for water frontage. With no heaters, no electricity and outhouses for bathrooms, the houses were used in the summer, but left empty in the winter. and Annexed by Newport Beach in 1916, the Balboa Ferry began as a contract ferry that pushed 1 car on a barge. By 1920, Park Avenue was the only road on the island.


The interesting history of this manmade island is documented in photos, books, brochures and memories supplied by the Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society. Operated by a dedicated and enthusiastic corps of volunteer docents, they strive to keep the history of Balboa Island alive. Volunteers are welcomed to help keep the museum open for tourists and locals to enjoy. It currently is open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, plus some tours are offered by appointment.


Location:  502 S. Bayfront, Suite A (upstairs), Balboa Island, CA 92662

Open Wed & Sat 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Please call to confirm the hours: (949) 675-3952

Or to make an appointment: (949) 723-4226



Marine Avenue and surrounding streets are filled with more than 70 gift shops, galleries and restaurants.




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