Which Is Nicer, Huntington Beach Or Newport Beach?

It can be tough to pick one with so many lovely places to choose from the miles of pristine beaches in California. Suppose you must choose between Huntington or Newport Beach for the family holiday and don’t know which is better. Don’t worry this article compares them in detail.  

Both beach towns are lovely, and it is not an easy answer to say which is nicer. It depends on what you are looking for. Both have great attributes. Huntington Beach, known as Surf City, offers great beach activities, while Newport Beach is famous for its gourmet restaurants and upscale shopping.

We compiled this guide to compare Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. To determine which one is nicer, let’s find the similarities and differences between these two equally lovely Californian beach towns. 

Huntington Beach or Newport Beach – Which is Nicer?

Southern California has many beautiful beaches to visit and many exciting things to do. Both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are in Southern California and are only 7.5 miles apart from each other.

Huntington Beach lies a little further north than Newport Beach, and the drive between them is about 13 mins in regular traffic.

The differences between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are clearly visible. Both have lovely sandy beachfront, but the kind of visitors and the general vibe in each are different.

Let’s take a deeper look into both beach towns so that you can make an informed choice when choosing which is better for your next holiday.

The Differences

Huntington Beach attracts more surfers, and that’s why it has earned the Surf City nickname and has an extensive lively bar scene and vibrant nightlife. In Newport Beach, there are 84,000 residents, and around 200,000 calls Huntington Beach their home.

While Newport Beach is famous for its gourmet restaurants and upscale shopping areas, it is generally more expensive than the sporty Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach has a higher population, and the Pacific Coast Highway runs through the center of town; increased traffic and more residents give Huntington Beach a busier feel.

Newport Beach has more open spaces, and nature parks and the beach are not close to the Highway, making it quieter than Huntington Beach. 

Newport Beach also has many smaller natural areas that make it more diverse than Huntington Beach. The charming Balboa Island features multi-million-dollar homes and a quaint main street filled with lovely shops and fantastic restaurants. 

Newport Beach allows construction directly on the beachfront, while Huntington Beach does not allow buildings on the shoreline. The highway and parking spaces also separate beach houses from the coastline in Huntington Beach.

If you want to live in a place where you can walk from your house straight onto the beach, then Newport Beach is your place.

There is no considerable difference in safety and crime rate-wise between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. They are both considered generally safe. Typically, the crime rate in Newport Beach is around 11% lower than the national average and 10% lower in Huntington Beach.

Finding out which is nicer depends on what you’re looking for. There is no clear answer both beach towns have significant characteristics; it all depends on what you expect from your holiday. 

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach has many excellent restaurants, multiple bars, and a vibrant night live at the Strand Hotel’s open-air bar, where you can enjoy a cocktail at sunset.

Huntington Beach is typically more affordable than Newport Beach, offers more low-key restaurants and shopping, and is more laid back because of the surfer vibe in town.

Huntington Beach offers many charming stores to browse around town for the shopaholics. The Pacific City Mall features fifty-plus stores with many excellent cafes and restaurants overlooking the ocean where you can grab a bite to eat.

Huntington Beach has a pristine beach with a famous pier, great bars, nice restaurants, and ice cream vendors, and it is perfect for relaxing after a day on the beach. The beach is long and wide, and the Pier is full of fun-filled things to do and see.

The strong waves at Huntington Beach make it a popular spot for surfers. Many surf shops line the Pier at Huntington Beach for those who frequent the beach.

If you love to surf, Huntington Beach has consistent waves all year-round. The 10-mile coast is a surfer’s paradise with its five distinct beaches. Huntington Beach caters to surfers from all skill levels.

Beginner surfers can enjoy the waters on their first paddle-out in calm, clear waters while seasoned hardcore surfers ride bigger waves near the Pier. Huntington Beach offers surf events, surf lessons, and surfs shops for those who love the sport. Visit the International Surfing Museum to learn more about the surfing culture in California.

There is always some event happening in Huntington. You can always visit Huntington’s Main Street, filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, and cute stores, when you are done at the beach.

On Tuesdays, it’s Surf City Nights when three blocks of the main street become a flea market with local produce, crafts, homemade food, and flowers on sale. Take a stroll along the fun-filled sidewalks and enjoy all that Huntington Beach offers.

Huntington State Beach is the best place for outdoor activities with volleyball, surfing, live music, bouncy castles, sandcastles, and pony rides, and the kids will love it too. Huntington Beach has everything on offer for the whole family.

At Huntington Harbor Boat Rentals, you can rent electric Duffy boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to enjoy a day on the water.    

Huntington Beach has many hotels located right on the shoreline, like the Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Hyatt, and Kimpton resort hotel directly across the beach. Something that Newport Beach doesn’t have.

Newport Beach

The half-mile-long protected sandy beach is a favorite for families. At Newport Beach, you will find the cliffs above the beach and a rock jetty that is the entrance to Newport Harbor.

Outdoor activities at Newport Beach are bird watching, scuba diving, swimming, beach volleyball, boating, fishing, surfing, skating, biking, hiking, whale watching, and horseback riding.

The Newport-Balboa paved bike trail stretches along the beach for several miles for those who like to take a bike ride along the coast. Several scenes from some television shows and movies were shot at the Corona Del Mar State Beach.

Newport Beach’s pristine beaches and many nature preserves are perfect for a fun holiday destination. The Newport Pier offers spectacular scenic views. The Orange County Museum of Art and the beautiful Sherman Library and Gardens are excellent for people who like to have a cultural experience. The Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center is perfect for kids to explore. 

The residents and visitors in Newport Beach are typically an older crowd, unlike the young surfers that hang out at Huntington Beach. Newport Beach is considered more upscale than Huntington Beach because its many gourmet restaurants and brand-name stores. 

Newport Beach has excellent restaurants, cafés and bars, lovely natural spaces, tide pools, and beautiful cliffs that line the ocean at Corona Del Mar.

There are many luxurious brand name stores at the famous Fashion Island, an outdoor shopping mall with all the best designer and department stores, like Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, and Louis Vuitton. Newport Beach’s main attractions are the many high-quality gourmet restaurants with world-renowned cuisine.

Many classy resorts and hotels line Newport Beach, like the Balboa Inn and Doryman’s Inn, a little further away from the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa, Holiday Inn, Ramada, and Travelodge.

For those visitors who like film and arts, there is the famous annual Newport Beach Film Festival, which shows around three hundred short films to attend.

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Huntington Beach vs. Newport Beach Living Costs

Comparing the living costs of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, we found Newport Beach’s living costs to be 180% higher than the national average.  

Newport’s living costs are higher due to the extremely high housing costs, which are 566% more than the national average. 

Huntington Beach is more affordable than Newport Beach; however, its living cost is also high at 70%. Its living costs are higher than the rest of the United States due to the high housing costs. Typically, California’s living cost is 40% higher than the national average, so it is expected to be higher in these two beach towns.

Outdoor Activities at Newport Beach

Newport Beach offers plenty of fun on the sand and sea. Rent an electric Duffy boat to cruise around the harbor, hike through the Upper Newport Bay State Marine reserve, enjoy the spectacular views from Crystal Cove State Park, and at Sunset Beach, watch the dolphins play in the surf.

The Balboa Fun Park is a great place to take the kids for some fun or book a tour at the Newport Beach harbor to view marine life up close.

Several tour companies to choose from in Newport Beach offer fantastic guided tours for a great family experience. Take a step back in time to your childhood at the carnival setting at the Balboa Fun Zone.

The Balboa Fun Zone classic boardwalk with its old-fashioned Ferris wheel, many arcade games, and lots of eateries is a great place to unwind after a day on the beach for everyone.

The mega Fashion Island luxury shopping center is a great place to shop for the perfect outfit or gift. Grab some ice cream while browsing through the many stores or stop to relax at the lovely koi pond at the mall’s center. Catch a movie at the theater or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many gourmet restaurants.

Huntington Beach vs. Newport Beach Nightlife

When comparing the nightlife in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, both towns provide lively and unique experiences with many bars, cafés, and restaurants.

Newport Beach has so much to offer in restaurants you can spend weeks and never visit or eat at the same restaurant twice. The Rusty Pelican, The Blue Beet, The Beach Ball, and Mutt Lynch’s, along with Newport and Balboa Piers, are places where you can have a great fun night out.

Visitors to both beach towns enjoy the vibrant trendsetting nightlife on offer.

Interesting Facts about Huntington Beach

  • Huntington Beach is the only beach in Orange County where dogs are allowed off the leash.
  • The Huntington Beach Surf Museum is home to the world’s largest bar of surf wax. 
  • Each year Huntington Beach hosts the National Professional Paintball League’s Super Seven Paintball Championships. 
  • Tito “Bad Boy” Ortiz, the famous UFC martial artist, lives in Huntington Beach.
  • At the end of the Huntington Beach Pier, you will find Ruby’s Diner, which offers 360-degree views of the ocean. 
  • During World War II, Huntington Beach was a base for the U.S. military, where; they had a machine gun installed at the end of the Pier.
  • In 1903, the Huntington Beach Pier was built even before Huntington Beach was founded.
  • Huntington Pier is the longest Pier on the West Coast.
  • Huntington Pier is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 
  • In 1955 Huntington Beach’s first surf shop, Gordie’s Surfboards opened.


Deciding if Huntington Beach or Newport Beach is nicer is no easy choice to make. Choosing one really depends on what kind of holiday you want.

Both beach towns are diverse with beautiful beaches, natural spaces, delicious food, vibrant nightlife, outdoor activities, and excellent shopping. They are very close neighbors, so their beaches are very similar.

Huntington Beach is the best place to be with its firepits, golden beach sand, and charming Pier if you like the sporty surfer vibe more. If you prefer a more upscale beach town with lots of gourmet restaurants and fashionable shopping, then Newport beach is better.

Huntington Beach has many great restaurants and bars, but they don’t compare to Newport Beach’s extensive collection. Newport Beach’s culinary scene is second to none, with a vast variety of waterfront cafés and gourmet restaurants perfect for a romantic night out. 

Newport Beach is great for people who like the finer things in life, while Huntington Beach is more of a surfer’s paradise. Both are nice and have lots to offer; it just depends on which one suits you best.

We hope you enjoyed this article, and whichever beach town you choose, either Huntington Beach or Newport Beach, enjoy what these two lovely beach destinations have to offer.