While you’re vacationing on Balboa Island, why don’t you try out a classic California tradition? A beach bonfire! Two nearby beaches – Big Corona and the Balboa Pier area – have fire pits available for burning charcoal fires.

You can almost hear the Beach Boys singing as you picture people roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. It’s a quintessential California image, conjuring up the idea of a simpler time when people enjoyed each other without the intrusion of cell phones and electronics.

If you want to have a sunset barbecue, stake out a ring early, especially if it’s the height of summer. By early, we’re talking 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. There is no reservation system, so just hang at the beach all day and play, then bring out the essentials:

  • • Charcoal, lighter & lighter fluid (New rule as of March 2014 – no wood!)
  • • Hot dogs, buns & chips
  • • Graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey bars & skewers
  • • Drinks & ice (Note – no alcohol allowed on the beach.)
  • • Chairs, music & sweatshirts (Even in the summer!)

Hurry and plan one now, because the City of Newport Beach and the California Coastal Commission are working on a proposal to remove many of the rings and spread the remaining ones farther apart to improve air quality and reduce the cost of maintaining them. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.newportbeachca.gov.

For now, charcoal is a cleaner-burning, less smoky and less smelly option, although the flames are much smaller. But it doesn’t matter – your beach bonfire night will be an unforgettable experience with your family and friends!