Port Hueneme is a small beach city in Ventura County, California surrounded by the city of Oxnard and the Santa Barbara Channel. The name derives from the Spanish spelling of the Chumash wene me, meaning “Resting Place”. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored this area and the adjacent Channel Islands in October 1542. The town’s name was officially changed to Port Hueneme in 1939 and was incorporated March 24, 1948. Thomas Bard learned of the submarine canyon at Point Hueneme and took advantage of the canyon depth to construct the Hueneme Wharf in 1871 here. The existing street grid of the town was formally laid out in 1888. Until the construction of the Montalvo Cutoff that brought the railroad to nearby Oxnard, the wharf was the principal means of transportation for that portion of Ventura County lying south of the Santa Clara River. Hueneme was the second largest grain shipping port on the Pacific coast between 1871 and 1895. Both the Port of Hueneme and Naval Base Ventura County lie within city limits.
Port Hueneme has a south-facing sand beach, known for its surfing. The beach has a wooden fishing pier and is about a mile long between Ormond Beach downcoast and Point Hueneme Light at the harbor entrance shared by the naval base and the port. The Waterfront Promenade, also known as the Lighthouse Promenade, provides a paved public access along the shoreline with two historic sites at view points: the 1872 Wharf and the Oxnard Packing House. There are also picnic tables and barbecue grills. The Port of Hueneme, shared with Oxnard Harbor District and Naval Base Ventura County, is the only deep water port between the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of San Francisco, and the only Navy controlled harbor between San Diego Bay and Puget Sound in Washington state.
Prior to the “Hueneme Beach Festival”, the HHD Board of Directors ran the ‘Port Hueneme Harbor Days Festival & Parade’ with food, bands, entertainment, kids attractions, vendor booths, and activities, such as kite-flying contests, sand sculpture contests, metal detection contests, and a long time ago, bathing suit contests. HHB was started in 1950 and ended in 2001, after 51 years of successful operations. The demise came from a lack of city support, and financial troubles such as an increases in fees for insurance, and food handling regulations. There are pictures of the early Hueneme Harbor Days Festival at the local history museum.