ferry2-300x224A fifteen minute ride from John Wayne Airport, and you’re ready to step aboard the Balboa Island Ferry, taking you to and from quaint Balboa Island. The ferry can be accessed from either the Newport peninsula side or the Balboa Island, as bridges connected the ‘mainland’ to the island were built in 1919, and offer easy access from either route.

The Balboa Ferry is steeped in history, making its first appearance in 1909. It was purchased by the Beek family around 1915, when the floating transportation, known as “The Ark,” began service and has remained in the family ever since. The Ark, essentially a large rowboat which came equipped with a small engine, still carried oars in the event of engine failure. As there was no scheduled service, passengers made arrangements to be picked up by telephoning Beek directly.

Several years later, Beek developed something known as the “Fat Ferry,” which held 20 passengers, and was quickly followed up by a barge which accommodated one vehicle. In the 1950’s, his fleet of double-ended ferry boats, the Admiral, the Commodore, and the Captain, were put into service and remain so to this day. In case you’re wondering, each ferry holds three cars and 75 passengers, and has transported over two million people. The ferries travel over 3,200 miles a year, making the approximately 800 foot trip over 200 times a day, leaving every five minutes. Sunday through Thursday, the hours are 6:30 am to midnight. Friday and Saturday nights the hours are extended until 2 a.m., leaving plenty of time for late night adventures.

In 1919, the fee was a nickel. Today the rate has increased, but at a buck a person, it is still very affordable. The rates vary, and are included below for a quick reference.



Adults are $1
Children 5 to11 – .50
Children under 5 – Free
Vehicles (Passengers are Extra)
Car and Driver $2
Motorcycle and Driver $1.50
Bicycle and Rider $1.50
Bicycle and Child .75


Monday: 6:30 AM to Midnight
Tuesday: 6:30 AM to Midnight
Wednesday: 6:30 AM to Midnight
Thursday: 6:30 AM to Midnight
Friday: 6:30 AM to Midnight
Saturday: 6:30 AM to 2:00 AM
Sunday: 6:30 AM to 2:00 AM

Both sides of the peninsula are packed with charm, offering an enjoyable day of shopping and sightseeing. Bon Voyage!