Biking is the most popular beach activity. A slower-paced alternative to driving, it allows you to enjoy the clean, fresh air and notice smaller details of these laid-back beach towns and harbors. The Newport Beach visitor center offers a free map of trails throughout the city and harbor. Bikes and equipment can be rented at Balboa Bikes N Beach Stuff, 601 Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach (tel. 949/723-1516), and at Laguna Beach Cyclery, 240 Thalia St. (tel. 949/494-1522; www.lagunabeachcyclery.net).
Many golf-course architects have used the geography of the Orange Coast to its full advantage, molding challenging and scenic courses from the rolling bluffs. Most courses are private, but a few outstanding ones are open to the public. Monarch Beach Golf Links, 50 Monarch Beach Resort Dr. N., Dana Point (tel. 949/240-8247; www.monarchbeachgolf.com), is particularly impressive. This hilly, challenging course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., offers great ocean views. Afternoon winds can sneak up, so accuracy is essential. Weekend morning greens fees are $165 to $195 ($145 to $175 weekdays). The rates after 1pm drop to $135 weekends and $115 weekdays.
Newport Harbor's six-mile long stretch of luxury homes and boats provides a picturesque backdrop for mood-setting romance aboard the Venetian-style boats of Gondola Adventures, 3101 West Coast Hwy., (tel.) 949/646-2067; www.gondola.com. Cozy couples can bundle up beneath blankets as they cruise the canals -- tradition dictates that you kiss under every bridge. If you're lucky, your gondolier will amplify the experience -- literally -- with song. Tip: Many a proposal has been accepted via the "message in a bottle" notes that your gondolier can plant for an additional fee. www.gondola.com