California Recreation Company

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S AFTERNOON DRAWS TO A CLOSE, the sky above Newport Harbor transforms into a watercolor wash, and the barks of playful sea lions echo through the waterways. Aboard an electric-powered Duffy, passengers drink in the sights and sounds as they propose a Champagne toast: Here’s to taking the helm of our SoCal aquatic adventure.

“When guests visit Newport Beach, they’re looking for that on-the-water experience, and our Duffy boats offer [that] in a luxurious and private setting,” says Greg Sinks, general manager at California Recreation Company. “With just you and your guests on board, you go at your own pace.”

Introduced by a Newport Beach local some 50 years back, canvas-topped Duffy boats are ubiquitous in Newport Harbor. Groups of eight to 11 passengers can captain 18-foot-long vessels that max out at just five mph through a wakeless harbor that promises water gentle enough for novices.

California Recreation Company’s boats are crafted with attention to detail. Wood-topped dining tables with bench seating provide cozy comfort, while removable window surrounds ensure temperature control year-round. Each on-board amenity, including a sound system, a refrigerator for snacks, ice buckets and flatware, is designed to guarantee a carefree outing.

For guests at The Resort at Pelican Hill,® booking a Duffy boat is seamless, as the concierge team handles everything from checking on availability and arranging transportation to placing catering food orders.

“We take the guesswork out of the coordination and make sure it’s fun and easy for our guests,” says Gavin Powers, guest experience assistant manager at the Resort.

Duffys are perfectly suited to idyllic Newport Harbor, where peeks at the area’s exclusive gems aren’t easy to come by. Encouraging guests to explore at their leisure, Sinks hands out a large map that highlights 11 waterfront landmarks. A self-guided tour can be completed in under two hours and offers views of John Wayne’s former home on the secluded corner of Bayshore Marina; Collins Island, rumored to have been won by James Cagney in a 1930s poker game; and the iconic Balboa Fun Zone Ferris wheel. The city’s new Marina Park, also worth a “drive-by,” features a lighthouse, docks, a beach/play area and the sea-green Lighthouse Café.

“You can’t miss the Balboa Island Ferry, either,” Sinks says, referring to the historic vessel that transports passengers and automobiles multiple times daily between the island and Balboa Peninsula. “When you’re a first-timer out on the Duffy boat, watching the ferry can be a memorable part of the day.”

Myriad restaurants welcome boaters who choose to cap their Duffy tour with a harborside meal. The Cannery, The Winery and Sol Cocina are just a few of the eateries with private docks that allow guests to drop anchor, as it were, and come through the back door for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

“[To dock and dine] is not an option in a lot of harbors,” Sinks says. “Newport Beach is such a special place, but the jewel in the crown is Newport Harbor. And there’s only one way to experience it: on a boat. It’s part of the lifestyle.”


For reservations and more information about dock and dine, please call California Recreation Company at 949.721.0111 or contact the Resort concierge at 949.467.5287.

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