The Balboa Pier was constructed in 1906 as a sister project of the Balboa Pavilion. The Newport Bay investment Company wanted to attract lot buyers to an undeveloped spit of sandy land now called the Balboa Peninsula. In order to do so, they built both the Balboa Pavilion and the Balboa Pier. These two structures were built to coincide with the opening of the southern terminus of the Pacific Electric Railway Red Car line from Long Beach to the Balboa Peninsula.
The pier is a popular fishing, surfing and ocean swimming spot. The fish caught from the pier consist mostly of mackerel and flounder. Additionally, the pilings are home to a large population of starfish that feed on the large colonies of mussels growing there, and are easily spotted at low tide. Fishermen catching starfish by mistake are a relatively common sight.
It is the finish to the Pier 2 Pier Swim, a 2-mile charity swim for the Newport Beach lifeguards and en route to the Super Quest, a 47-mile (75.6 km) biathlon course and lifeguard challenge that runs from Trestles Beach to Seal Beach.