It is hard to imagine that pricey Collins Island was once a dreary mudflat sitting in the middle of a swamp. Today, this little isle, which is connected to Balboa Island by a small bridge, is home to a gated community that contains eight multi-million-dollar homes, each of which boasts spectacular waterfront views and boat docks.
Although tiny, Collins Island actually has a rich and very interesting past. This isle along with Balboa and Little Balboa are all manmade islands, and were the brainchild of William S. Collins. Work first began on these artificial islands in the early 1900s. Collins’ plan was to sell homes on Balboa, establish an amusement park on Little Balboa and to keep the littlest isle for himself. He did construct a large concrete home on the small island, which came to be known as Collins Castle. Unfortunately and not surprisingly, the construction of these three islands, as well as their infrastructure, did not go as smoothly as hoped. And so in 1915, Collins decided to sell off the properties, which were eventually annexed by Newport Beach.
As for Collins Castle, it was, at one point, the home of legendary actor James Cagney, who claimed that he had won it in a poker game. Cagney lived in that home during the 1930s and leased it to the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. He sold it in 1948, and a few years later, the “castle” was torn down and replaced by eight homes.
Today, this little gated and very private community is considered by many to be one of the best neighborhoods on Balboa Island, And because of its waterfront location on Newport Harbor and because its homes all boast boat docks, this community is especially appealing to those who love the yachting lifestyle. Size-wise, the homes on Collins Island average around 3,600 square feet of living space.
While Collins Island is too small to have any amenities of its own, such as restaurants, residents don’t have to travel too far to get a bite to eat or to go grocery shopping. They just need to cross their small bridge to enjoy all of the amenities, including charming bistros and fun shops, that can be found on Balboa Island. Even better? Once they are done with their errands, they can retreat from touristy Balboa Island to the peace and quiet of their own private enclave.
- Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, overall A grade, voted 245 out of 5,704 for having the Best Public Elementary School Teachers in California*
- Horace Ensign Intermediate School
- Corona Del Mar High School
- *According to Niche