The long strip of beach along the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach provides plenty of space to choose a spot to plant down your umbrella and towels. Parking can be difficult as there is limited space on the peninsula but that keeps the beaches from getting too packed. There are a few large parking areas with the main areas being at Newport Pier and Balboa Pier but you can look for lots of free street parking almost anywhere on the peninsula. If you drive to the end of the peninsula, you will reach an infamous beach known as "The Wedge" where you may find brave souls surfing massive waves depending on the swell. It is not recommended to swim here but a great place to relax and watch.
During April and May, don't be surprised to see Northbound migrating gray whales with their calves as they take their journey from Mexico to Alaska, many of them will stop and frolick right between The Wedge and Balboa Pier.
Lifeguard towers line the beach all throughout the peninsula but in winter most might be unattended.
The peninsula also has many great food choices from PCH down to Balboa Pier.
This is a great area to surf depending on swells,typically short rides close to shore.