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Big Corona Beach
Corona Del Mar / Newport Beach
Location / Directions :
200 Poppy Ave., Corona Del Mar
Probably no other Orange County beach has undergone such a dramatic change as has Big Corona. Today, on any given summer Sunday, you'd be hardpressed to find a local among the masses that visit this beach. Parking is $6 and is regularly filled. On a holiday, from the hill above, sand is almost not visible, thanks to the sea of umbrellas and towels. And unless a huge south swell is running, forming "foamers" off Newport Harbor's East Jetty, no stand-up surf exists. Bodysurfers and bodyboarders rule.
But long ago, when Newport and California surfing were in their toddling stages, Big Corona was the spot. During the 1920s and early '30s, the long, slow rollers coming across the sand bar of the harbor entrance and ending off Big Corona were considered among the best in California and attracted legends such as Californian Tom Blake and Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku. The Corona del Mar Surfboard Club was the mainland's first surf organization, formed in the '20s.
Corona del Mar also held the first major surf competition in Mainland America: the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championships in 1928. Organized by Blake through the Surfboard Club, the contest involved paddling and surfing skills. Contestants paddled 500 yards offshore, rounded a buoy and rode a wave back to shore, more of a race than a contest of style. There were 15 entrants and because the top-billed Duke Kahanamoku didn't show up, Blake was the odds-on favorite.
Blake not only won, he did it with a few surprises. At the start, he carried his 120-pound paddling/surfing board to water's edge, then as his competitor took off, Blake retrieved a smaller 9'6" board. He threw that on top of his paddleboard and climbed aboard. Once around the buoy, he discarded the paddleboard and surfed past the competition.
From 1934 to 1936, in order to make the entrance navigable for boaters, the harbor entrance was dredged to 25 feet and over 200,000 tons of rock were dropped at the entrance to extend the West and East Jetties. The East Jetty grew to its current 1,673 feet and, along with the removal of the entrance sand bar, killed the easy waves that had become so popular.
Surfing, Diving and Tidepools
Lifeguards, Chemical, portable toilets only; No Snack Bars or Food Stands so bring food with you
Very limited street parking in the surrounding neighborhood; possibly park at state beach and walk