18 Aug Channeling the Islands: The History of Charming Huntington Harbour
Comfortably nestled – as we like to say in the realty industry – on the northwest corner of Huntington Beach and bordering Seal and Sunset Beaches, Huntington Harbour embodies five man-made islands bounded by a network of navigable channels, and the land surrounding them. From waterways dotted with jaw-dropping multi-million-dollar homes, private docks and yachts to the backdrop of a secluded pleasure craft port located only 15 minutes from the open waters of the mighty and majestic Pacific Ocean, Huntington Harbour connects with Anaheim Bay via a waterway that passes under a bridge on Pacific Coast Highway, past the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and the Anaheim Bay National Wildlife Refuge – all while remaining in-between Long Beach and Newport Beach harbors.
The history attached to the Harbour is just as fascinating as its rich geographical elements, to be sure; as a current community of about 3,500, construction began in 1963 at a cost of some $200 million, with the harbors and peninsulas located on the former site of the historic Sunset Bay Estuary wetlands destroyed with dredging and filling to develop the land for the new community of Huntington Harbour. Since that time, the Harbour has been dedicated primarily to residential use, with over 1,000 waterfront homes including condominiums, townhouses and detached houses, and popular activities have grown in scope as the area has matured and which now encompasses kayaking, fishing, sailing, stand-up paddle-boarding and sunset boat cruises.
Huntington Harbour also wears the distinction of being the closest private boat harbour to one of the most popular cruising destinations in Southern California, Avalon on Catalina Island. During the holidays, the Harbour hosts what is perhaps its most famous calling card, the popular Cruise of Lights, in addition to the Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, charitable events to benefit the Orange County Philharmonic Society and more. Normally held from around December 15 to 23, the Cruise of Lights offers narrated boat tours through the waterways of Huntington Harbour, where both locals and visitors share the beauty of thousands of lights and animated displays on brightly-decorated homes, docks, decks and boats; indeed, there’s nothing quite like floating quietly in the night, surrounded by the wondrously-decorated homes and boats, the eye-opening display amped up by its reflection in the serene waters of Huntington Harbour. To say this is a sublime and thoroughly Christmas-y experience and a fantastic local tradition is putting it mildly.
Peter’s Landing Marina, meanwhile, at the Harbour entrance and just off famed Pacific Coast Highway, offers sport fishing, private charters and electric boat rentals, and provides complimentary two-hour guest slips on a first-come, first-served basis for mariners who enjoy waterfront boardwalk dining and shopping. Since its inception, Huntington Harbour has also become a hotbed for kayaking enthusiasts, what with its serenity, abundant wildlife and calming waters – rentals are available for a nominal fee at a small beach bordering a harbor channel alongside Pacific Coast Highway.
Another major slice of Huntington Harbour’s rich history is the Huntington Harbour Yacht Club, formed and incorporated in October of 1965 and which began with meetings at the Barefoot Bar located on the beach at the Bay and Racquet Club on Warner Avenue. In 1977, the club signed a 30-year lease for the site it presently resides on with the City of Huntington Beach, with the membership itself responsible for designing and building the original structure and docks in ’77 and ’78. The original facilities were dedicated on April 15, 1978, and the clubhouse was enlarged in 1984 to its present configuration, with the addition of 3,000 square-feet.
Since 1966, the club has been a proud member of the Southern California Yachting Association, attaining senior membership in 1981; as a member of the SCYA, club members are entitled to reciprocity with all other recognized yacht clubs, and the club frequently cruises to and enjoys the hospitality and facilities of other yacht clubs in Southern California. From its inception, the HHYC has participated in an active sailing program and is currently a member of the United States Sailing Association, along with many other regional sailing associations – in fact, the club’s sailing school trains more than 40 young sailors each year, and the competitive sailing program has yielded a substantial amount of nationally-ranked sailors, including crew-members aboard the American entry in the America’s Cup racing series.
Huntington Harbour began with three islands – Davenport, Humbold and Trinidad – along with several neighborhoods, including many condo and townhome developments, and along the way it has become home to more than 1,000 waterfront Huntington Beach Real Estate properties ranging from well-under-a-million-dollar condos up to multi-million-dollar estates. But what’s most important to know about this charming enclave on the U.S. West Coast is that there is truly something for everyone in the Harbour.