The Newport Aquatic Center was founded in 1982 and built in 1987 as a non-profit corporation offering the public unique opportunities in the Olympic water sports of rowing, canoeing, kayaking, and outrigger canoe competition.

Mission Statement:

“The Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) is an extraordinary community resource whose mission is to teach and inspire athletes of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds by fostering a passion for Olympic style rowing, kayaking, canoeing, and related marine activities. Through character building programs and world-class professional instruction, the NAC not only develops exceptional athletes, it creates a positive, influential path for young adults, a common destination for devoted enthusiasts, and a teaching ground for environmental stewardship.”

Our Members: Beginners to Olympians

NAC front 1-p.j_edited-1
Paddlers and rowers of every age and level of ability use the NAC to sharpen their skills in rowing, canoeing, outrigger canoeing, and kayaking. Beginners come to improve their physical condition, enjoy the aesthetic, and competitive aspects of these sports and intrinsically experience the spirit of the NAC. National Teams from Europe utilize this first class Aquatic Center throughout the years. 
The NAC hosts a variety of events during the year such as races and regattas that provide an opportunity to hone competitive skills and several fund-raising events. Rowing and paddling clubs are invited to the regattas hosted by the center and NAC members have the opportunity to travel to races regionally, nationally, and internationally. 
Our master/open rowing, canoe, outrigger canoe, and kayak teams have won numerous National Championship titles from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. Collectively, NAC members have won twelve Olympic Gold Medals.

Open to the Public

NAC from the water-p.j_edited-1In addition to the programs for members, the Newport Aquatic Center offers classes to the general public. It is not necessary to be a member to participate, although special discounts do apply. Various classes from local instructors as well as colleges are offered through the center. 
For businesses and corporations looking for a team building experience, we host Outrigger Corporate Challenge Regattas where we bring the excitement of authentic outrigger canoe racing to your company. With the combination of physical, mental, and emotional strategies involved, your teams on 6-18 person outrigger canoes will learn important lessons that translate into the competitive world of business. 
The NAC also offers memberships by the hour for those who want to use kayaks and stand up paddle boards for a leisurely paddle around the bay. Private lessons in all disciplines are also available for those interested in improving their skills or learning new ones.

NAC History

The Newport Aquatic Center was founded in 1982 and built in 1987 as a non-profit corporation offering the public unique opportunities in the Olympic water sports of rowing, canoeing, kayaking, and outrigger canoe competition.

Frequently Asked Questions:

May I bring my Caregiver to Camp WĀO?

Our young adult camps are designed to inspire and challenge. For the majority of our participants, that starts with leaving their typical support system at home. We encourage you to attend Camp on your own. Generally, we encourage you to try this out on your own. It helps create a space for connection and from our experience, it means a more impactful Camp experience for you.

What if I have a disability and/or strength/mobility restrictions?

We recognize that everybody and everybody is different! We work with each person individually to understand their needs and to adjust as needed. Please reach out to our Team and clearly include this concern in your application so we can better understand your needs and provide the best possible Camp experience for you!

Can I participate if I have seizures?

We encourage you to discuss the appropriateness, risks, and benefits of your participation with your physician. If your physician clears you for all ocean and land-based activities, you are more than welcome to join us at camp.

What if I am sensitive to the sun and/or concerned about temperature regulation?

Prolonged exposure to the sun and/or changing temperatures may be expected at Camp. It’s important that you share your concerns and/or medically related symptoms with NAC / WAO on your application so that we can work with you to mitigate and manage them as much as possible. In addition, our medical volunteers and staff will be conducting hydration and sunscreen application checks every 2 hours each day.

What if I’m in active treatment and experiencing symptoms, such as fatigue?

Ultimately, you know your body best. Participants get to decide on how much you want to try, and we will be there to encourage, teach and provide a safe place to try new things. You make your own decisions without any pressure from your peers or the staff. This means if you need to rest and take a break, cool! If you want to try another activity, awesome! You can push yourself as much or as little as you want and do what feels right to you and our staff and volunteer team will be there to help guide you.

I have never done any of these activities except swimming, is that ok?

Upon arrival, after cabin assignments, orientation and lunch the entire group will participate in a Float Test. The Float Test is guided by staff and medical volunteers and involves a jump into the water while wearing a PFD (Personal Floatation Device). Participants will demonstrate that they can follow ten 10 instructions while in the water (show the staff their nose and toes) while remaining calm, to simulate an unexpected entry into the water during an activity. Support staff and medical volunteers will be both in the water and on the dock supporting and encouraging participants every step of the test.

I am not super comfortable in the water; will that be a problem? Is everyone going to be stronger and in better shape than me?

NO, that is not a problem at all. You can do it! Our Camps are for folks of all shapes and sizes and there will be people with different levels of ability, health, fitness, comfortability, and experience at each program. We are here to support you and help you have the best experience possible.

Do we spend a lot of time talking about our feelings, life, challenges and our cancer?

That is up to you, but it does come up naturally as people tend to get to know one another and feel more comfortable sharing aspects of their life. There are also many opportunities to document, track and reflect on your experience in your provided Camp Journal in real-time. We offer daily prompts at the beginning of each day and often those prompts help guide our evening bonfire discussions. Reflection, connection, wellness and sharing with your peers are the backbone of our Camps.

What type of people am I going to meet?

You will meet people from all walks of life who will become an extension of your family. You will meet people that have experienced similar psychical and metal challenges during their battle with cancer and beyond in survivorship. We like to say, “everyone at Camp speaks the same language of cancer.”

How many participants are at each Camp WĀO?

Camp WĀO groups sizes range based on many factors. Typical there will be between 15-18 participants and 9-12 staff and medical volunteers. Our entire group total is a maximum of 30 people.

Is Camp WĀO safe?

There is always a risk when adventuring outdoors but NAC / WAO has strong policies and procedures in place to mitigate and manage risk as much as possible. Camp WĀO staff and partners are experienced in outdoors and group management, trained in their discipline, and 100% committed to your safety. No one will be forced to do anything they do not feel comfortable doing. Participant safety is NAC / WAO’s #1 priority. Additionally, there is a Camp Nurse and Medical Volunteers, who has at least an EMT certification and is there to provide general support and basic first aid if needed. If you’re still concerned, please reach out to our Team who will be happy to discuss this further with you.

Are there wild animals and bees at CAMP WĀO?

Yes. Catalina Island is a wild and remote coastal wilderness full of wildlife. We will go through this at length during orientation.

What do we pack for Camp WĀO?

Once accepted, you will receive various waivers and forms as well as a detailed packing list.

Is alcohol allowed at Camp WĀO?

Camp WĀO is drug and alcohol-free. We feel that these experiences are fun enough without the need for additional substances.

Is there cell phone reception / internet at Camp WAO?

We STRONGLY encourage Camp WĀO to be a no-tech space and an opportunity to take a break from everyday life and stressors to connect with self and others in an intentional and meaningful way. When do we get the opportunity to do this? Camp WĀO is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we promise, you’ll want to be present for it. So please, leave your technology (e.g. phones and computers) at home or if you need to bring them, leave them in your Bunk Cabin. With that being said, there is VERY limited cell service at Camp and there is a landline, long-distance VHF radios and internet in case of an emergency.

What kind of food and meals are served at Camp WAO?

We are passionate about providing healthy meals at our camps. We believe in the benefits that can be gained from communal meals with fellow participants and staff. We eat every meal together as a group and often some of the best conversations at camp occur during these communal dining times. Most importantly, all of our meals are plentiful, taste great and inspire healthy living post-cancer

By partnering with Anderson Seafoods, the most trusted Seafood source in America, we can ensure that all recommended sustainable practices are followed religiously. These policies discourage overfishing, help replenish depleted resources, protect endangered species and habitats, and reduce bycatch

Most of our meals include fresh, wild-caught fish with a clean protein or plant-based substitute, seasonal vegetables, greens, fruits, nuts and whole grains. We also have a well-stocked salad bar at every lunch and dinner. We can accommodate all dietary needs and restrictions if given the appropriate notice.

Is Camp WAO ADA compliant?

Finding ADA compliant accommodation for a group of our size can be challenging. We do our best to find suitable accommodation, including comfortable bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. Our Bunk Cabins are set in a remote costal island wilderness (more ocean, docks, dirt and grass than concrete and sidewalks. If you’re concerned about this, please discuss your needs and limitations with our Team and we will work to find the best solution to your needs.

What will the sleeping arrangements be like? Are we sleeping in tents?

While the accommodation is rustic and campy (Bunk Cabins), the sense of understanding and support brings comfort and security that even the most luxurious hotels can’t match. Given the size of our group, the majority of people will share cabins at camp. Our Bunk Cabins sleep four adults comfortably (with ample storage for baggage, but you will be sharing a bunk room with just one other participant. Each cabin has two separate bunk rooms (each holds 2 people) and are connected by a shared bathroom that includes: a sink, private flush toilet and private shower. Our Bunk Cabins have electricity and lighting. There are no linens so plan on bringing a sleeping bag and compact pillow (see packing list for more detailed information).

When do we have to complete our Pay-it-Forward fundraising commitment by?

The goal is to have your $500 Pay-it-Forward funding campaign funded before camp begins. We encourage you to post an update to your supporters after camp with images and a summary of your camp and experience both on your personal fundraising page and your social media.

How much does it cost to go to Camp WAO?

We cover all costs of Camp WĀO lodging, delicious and healthy food, professional instruction / staff, adventure equipment and ferry transportation to & from Catalina Island. It is your responsibility to cover your own airfare as well as pre / post camp accommodation on the mainland.

A registration fee is required upon acceptance into camp. Your registration fee ($150) and $1000 Fundraising Goal help us cover the costs of your camp lodging, all meals, snacks, activities, camp essentials bag that includes a Florence Marine X UPF 50 Shirt, Camp T-Shirt, NAC / WĀO Hat and other Camp WĀO essentials.

Please reach out to our Team if you need financial assistance. We sometimes have donors willing to step up and provide additional support for those who need a little bit of additional assistance. Note: There are only 1-2 opportunities for this additional support per camp so please email us at at least 2 months in advance with a 1-page letter that goes into depth about your experience with cancer and why you are applying for additional financial support. We will do our best to match you with a donor, but we cannot guarantee any support.

What if I will be over 39 years old when Camp WAO starts, can I still attend?

The short answer is yes. In addition, we look at applicants on a case-by-case basis. If there is a clear need for our camp, we will consider allowing folks who are in their early 40’s if our young adult camps have additional space available.

How do you select Camp WAO participants?

In general, we are first come first serve. However, the applications we focus on are filled out completely and offer us a real insight into the participant and why they want and need to go to Camp WĀO. The next step is creating the most optimal group for each Camp WĀO session. We also consider the type of diagnosis, treatment type, remission history, age and other health factors.

What is WAO?

WAO is an acronym for We Are Ocean. WAO is pronounced [Way-O] and is represented with an accent mark over the Ā when referring to Camp WĀO. As of 2021, We Are Ocean is an official NAC program and extremely blessed for all the support of our vision and mission.

What is the NAC?

NAC is an acronym for the Newport Aquatic Center. The NAC is an extraordinary community resource whose mission is to teach and inspire athletes of all ages, abilities and backgrounds by fostering a passion for Olympic style rowing, kayaking, canoeing and related marine activities.


Through character building programs and world-class professional instruction, the NAC not only develops exceptional, athletes, it creates a positive, influential path for young adults to higher education and career development, a teaching ground for leadership skills, health and fitness training, community, philanthropy and environmental stewardship, and a common destination for devoted enthusiasts.

I have a specific question regarding my jr athlete, practice, event or race

Please contact the coach directly for all things jr rowing related. Call the NAC office to get the contact information for the designated coach.

I am currently on the Jr. Rowing team and I am interested in P.E. credit.

Once the team roster is set, athletes from schools OUTSIDE of the Newport-Mesa School District may speak to their school administrative office to receive the proper paper work for the NAC office to fill out.

Athletes from the Newport-Mesa School District are not guaranteed P.E. credit. NHHS and CDMHS limit the amount of students who can receive P.E. credit from an outside source. Due to this restriction, NAC athletes are selected randomly based on their year rowing and their academic year (i.e. Sophomores on Varsity, or Freshman on Novice, etc.)

The NAC has no control over this restrictions and appreciates your cooperation.

At what age can I start in the Jr Rowing Program?

The NAC Jr Rowing program is for athletes who are currently enrolled in High School. We do offer a non-competitive middle school program for athletes enrolled in 7th & 8th grade. Unfortunately, for athletes younger than middle school will need to wait until they reach the appropriate age in order to join an NAC team.

I am interested in learning to row on the Jr. Rowing Program, how do I get started?

Never rowed before:

Step 1: enroll in our Learn to Row summer camp (see website for details)

Step 2: after completion of the Learn to Row camp, enroll in the Intro to Competitive rowing camp to further perfect technique

Step 3: think about private lessons with a coach

Step 4: try out for the team in the beginning of August

Have some rowing experience:

Step 1: enroll in our Intro to Competitive Rowing summer camp

Step 2: consider taking a private rowing lesson

Step 3: try out for the team in the beginning of August

How do I join the Jr. Rowing Program once the season has started?

Depending on your skill level, coaches may accept athletes onto the team once the team has already been set in the end of August. Please contact the NAC to get in touch with a coach.

Are there gift certificates available?

Yes! We offer gift certificates, you can give for a certain value or for a certain item

What is the recommended attire to go out on the water?

We recommend either wearing athletic wear or your bathing suit, bring a hat or sunglasses, a towel, and water! Since it is a water sport, expect to get wet, so bring a change of clothes if you plan on going somewhere after.

The NAC provides all PFD’s and paddles.

I have never kayaked or Stand-up paddled before, is this still a good thing for me to try?

Yes! Paddling at our facility is perfect for guests of all experiences. The staff provides a tutorial with all of our equipment rentals which will go over 1) how to paddle 2) where to go and what to see 3) wind and tide 4) safety. Please ask the staff for any further questions you may have regarding your first visit. Retals are subject to weather, so please call ahead to ask if conditions are okay for a “first-timer”.

Do you accept credit cards as a form of payment?

Yes, we accept all major credit cards. We also accept cash and check.

What is the best time to come kayak/SUP?

The best time to come is when the wind and tide are most calm, which is typically in the morning.

Please always check the weather conditions prior to coming down, you may check with any online weather service or simply call us!

How do I cancel my membership?

Annual Members:

Annual memberships automatically renew after the first year; members who pay in full will receive an invoice prior to their renewal date, members who are on auto debit will automatically be renewed after the year is up.

The annual membership is a one year contract, once your year is up you are able to cancel anytime. To cancel your membership, you must fill out a cancellation form located online under “resources” or “memberships”. You may also fill out the cancellation form at the front office at NAC.

Monthly Members:

Members who signed up for the monthly “no-contract” memberships will have no automatic renewal. Monthly membership are a one-time flat fee; members are responsible for paying again if they wish to continue their memberships.


What are your hours of operation?

Membership Facility Hours:

Monday-Thursday 6am – 8pm

Friday 6am – 7pm

Saturday & Sunday 6am – 6pm

Rental Hours:

Monday – Thursday 7am – 4:30pm

Friday 7am – 3:45pm

Saturday & Sunday 7am – 3:45pm

Is there a swimming pool?

There is no swimming pool. We use the Upper Newport Back Bay as our water source.

What are the membership benefits?

When you join as a member, you get full access to the facility including: kayaks, SUP’s, outriggers, surfskis, rowing shells, the weight room, the locker rooms and the rowing machines

Who is included in the family membership?

The family membership is considered the immediate household: 2 heads of house, and kids aged 7-18. All family members must sign a liability waiver upon joining.

Are there lockers and showers available to the public?

No. As a membership facility, our locker rooms are available to our members only. We have public restrooms available and a key rack for your car keys.

If I am a member, can I have a guest come with me?

We do not have a guest policy. All guests are required to rent kayaks and SUP’s at the normal rental rate. There are no non-members allowed on our member only equipment (sculls, outriggers, surfskis)

Can I reserve kayaks/SUP’s for an event?

No, we do not do any reservations for our kayaks and SUP’s. however, we do offer reservations for our outriggers. Please refer to the tab “things to do” on how to inquire reserving the outriggers for group events.

Do you allow dogs at your facility and on your equipment?

Yes, we are a dog friendly facility. Dogs are allowed on our kayaks only, not SUP’s.

Notice: All dogs must be on a leash and accompanied by the owner at all times. The beach in which we are located, follows normal public beach rules, which indicates no dogs between the hours of 9am-5pm. As long as you are using our facility, it is okay.

Is there an age limit to go on the kayaks and SUP’s?

Yes. To be on the kayak all participants must be at least 7 years old, even if going with a parent. To be on the SUP’s all participants must be at least 14 years old and only one person per board is allowed

Do you offer reservations for rentals?

No, all rentals are at a first-come-first-serve basis

How much are kayak and paddle board rentals?

Single kayaks $15/hr, double kayaks $20/hr, SUP’s $20/hr

Do I have to be a member in order to rent?

No. we are a membership facility, that offers rentals on the side.