Welcome to the O.C - Newport Beach is even dreamier IRL

Embrace the Californian Coastal dream

an image of newport beach, with boats in the sea and buildings in the background
(Image credit: Fox communications)

Newport Beach with its pristine beaches, relaxed energy and Hollywood connections is fast becoming a year-round destination for those looking for quiet luxury within the Sunshine state.

If, like me, the allure of Newport Beach has long felt familiar thanks to Marissa, Ryan, Summer and Seth (of The O.C) and cult film and tv favourites Beaches and Arrested Development then their eponymous film festival each October isn’t to be missed with the whole city abuzz with stars and movies on the road to the Oscars.


Boasting some of the most prestigious waterfront properties in the United States - from opulent mansions with their own submarine docks along the Balboa Peninsula to exclusive gated communities like Pelican Hillto the historic beach cottages of Crystal Cove’s conservancythere’s a picture-perfect water-front retreat for everyone’s budget and taste. Whether you’re looking for some much needed R&R or a coastal adventure you’ll want to return over and over again.

an view of pelican hill from above, the pool and gold grounds

(Image credit: Fox communications)


11 hours from London to LAX; Newport Beach is a forty minute drive from Los Angeles.


Affectionately referred to as ‘the jewel of the Californian riviera,’ Newport Beach’s beloved as the yachting (and shopping) capital of the West Coast.

With picturesque Newport Harbour a playground for magnificent yachts and submarines alike, take in the sparkling crystal clear waters on one of their most beloved and iconic modes of transport - the Duffy boat. A seamless way to appreciate the architecture of water-front mansions as well as the local wildlife in motion with seals and sealions merrily sunning themselves on jetties. Duffy boats provide a unique access to Balboa Island, the electric charm of the local champagne tours aren’t to be missed. With dock and dine options available all along the waterfront take advantage and end your trip at a local restaurant - savour fresh seafood delicacies at Buddha’s Favorite.

With Fashion Island at the heart of Newport Beach you can shop luxury and local boutiques in one easy to navigate location. From Louis Vuitton to Brandy Melville, See’s Candies to Lemonade open-air shopping and al fresco dining it’s a shopping oasis like no other - don’t miss the koi pond.

Looking for a more boutique experience? Lido Marina Village is an enchanting water-front promenade with The Real Real and Malibu Farm beloved haunts for locals and visitors alike. 

balboa bay with a view of the marina

Balboa Bay

(Image credit: Fox Communications)

Whale watching

Quite simply, don’t leave Newport Beach without booking a trip with Newport Coastal Adventure. With some of the best waters worldwide for whale watchers to enjoy and explore along this stretch of coastline the likelihood of you seeing marine life, with qualified experts, in their natural habitat is very high. Between May and November sightings of Fin whales, humpback whales and blue whales are especially likely, in early December the crew took a spontaneous trip out to observe a small pod of Orcas - so year round activity on the high seas in their whip-fast Zodiac boats is almost guaranteed. If you’re especially lucky you may encounter a wild pod of common dolphins - they love to leap and play around in the waves off the bow of your boat, a moment that will stay with you forever. 

a whale in the sea with a mountain view in the distance

(Image credit: Fox communications)


For a culinary experience you’ll still be discussing and savouring years later, book the Chef’s Table at Bello by Sandro Nardone. The ultimate intimate experience, each course is created in direct conversation with the chef, Zach Scherer, who thoughtfully curates an accompanying wine selection that not only compliments each dish but also the taste of the guest. An elevated dining experience like no other. 

With a vibrant and diverse culinary scene, Newport Beach offers variety for all from farm-to-table creations at Malibu Farm to seafood delicacies and Michelin-starred fine dining establishments. For a local crowd-pleaser for even your fussiest diner, JOEY offers faultless service and an adaptable menu that will keep you coming back for more - the cauliflower tacos are something to write home about.

an image of inside JOEY


(Image credit: JOEY/Fox communications)


Looking to unwind? Choose, VEA. With panoramic views over the (perfectly manicured) neighbouring golf course and out to the ocean, the rooms are designed to feel like a home away from home. Modern and minimalist the spatial suites focus on ‘seascape views and calming ocean hues.’ With complimentary HIIT and yoga classes each morning and two pools (one saltwater), indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment, or savour the local flavours of their renowned chefs - VEA’s poolside VIEW restaurant is a favourite in the evenings with after dinner s’mores kits making a memorable evening activity.

Rooms start from $491 per night.

an image of VEA hotel room with bed and sea view


(Image credit: VEA/Fox communications)

Crystal Cove's Conservancy

Always dreamt of waking up to a pod of dolphins outside your bedroom window? Crystal Cove is for you. A local non-profit that’s lovingly renovated and restored 24 beach cottages to their original 1920s and 30s decor and finish this wholesome resort is not to be missed. 

Set on the golden sandy beaches the prices of each rental is stabilised to maintain an accessibility to the national park and beaches for all - you won’t find anywhere else in the western hemisphere with more competitive pricing ($222 per night for 4). With a range of fully accessible offerings from private cottages, dorm style all right on the sand booking has been compared to Glastonbury with reservations opening every single day at 8am for the date six months ahead. There’s a nostalgic, rustic charm that holds onto your heart long after you leave. Don’t leave without sampling a Beignet (or 10) from The Beachcomber.

a view of crystal cove in the sunshine

(Image credit: Fox communications)

How to book?

Book direct, or visit Newport Beach for local links.

Sarah-Rose Harrison

Sarah-Rose Harrison is the Contributing Fashion Editor at Marie Claire. A London based Fashion and Celebrity Stylist she works across commercial, editorial and advertorial projects as well as personal and red carpet styling. Don't miss her outfit's on Instagram @sarahroseharrison