It’s hard to beat a picture-perfect beach as the ultimate relaxation spot – the fresh breeze carrying the salty scent of the sea, the sound of the lapping waves and the soft sand to mould yourself into for the afternoon. Waiheke Island is blessed with some of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches and is one of our favourite beach destination holidays. We’ve put together our top recommendations for your Waiheke Island beach fix…
This sweeping white beach positioned in a cove on the north side of the island enjoys all-day sunshine and gorgeous calm waters. There is a pirate ship playground that kids love to play on and BBQ facilities so you really can spend the whole day here. A convenience store is available, and a bar/café is the perfect spot for an afternoon glass of ice-cold wine or beer. At the far western end of the beach, separated from the main beach by a rocky outcrop is Little Palm Beach (aka Nudey Bay) where visitors sunbathe and swim nude.
The largest beach on Waiheke Island, with a 2.5km stretch of white sand and clear water can be found at the peaceful Onetangi. Often referred to as the ‘quieter’ side of the island, Onetangi is a relaxed area, and with such a large expanse of beach to choose from, it’s easy to find a nice quiet spot to set up your beach ‘base’ for the day. If a northerly wind is blowing, you can find some good surf on this beach. There are enough cafes and bars to offer variety for a lunch-time reprieve from the sun, and if you do get restless, hop on a bus, and a couple of minutes down the road you will find 4 fantastic wineries each within walking distance of one another – perfect for an afternoon wine tasting.
The convenient location of this beach, which is close to the main strip of shops and restaurants at Oneroa makes it a popular choice for anchorage, and you can enjoy postcard views of the horizon peppered with boats and masts of varying sizes. The beach is protected from the cold S’West winds and on the north side of the island captures all-day sunshine – plan for a lazy morning on the beach, and an afternoon wandering the boutique shops in Oneroa nearby.
Just down the road from the main strip, this little beach is a great option when Oneroa beach is packed to the rafters during the busy summer season. Just a short stroll down the road, Little Oneroa has BBQ facilities and a children’s playground making it a great choice for families who want to stay close to the shops, cafes, and restaurants in Oneroa, just a few minutes up the road.
This gorgeous little sheltered bay has a calm surf and is a great family swimming spot. This secluded beach offers year-round boat launching, and if you are really lucky, you may get to see a pod of Orca swimming into the bay to feed on stingrays.
Enclosure Bay is on the north of the island, and the next bay around from Sandy Bay. This charming little cove enjoys lovely warm waters which are partially protected from the sea by interesting rock formations to create a sheltered swimming area. The rock pools are fantastic for exploring with kids to look for wildlife. If you prefer an active beach visit, kayaking and snorkeling can be really good here, and you might get lucky fishing off the rocks.
Despite being on the far Eastern side of the Island, Man O War Bay is totally worth the journey to reach it. Not only is it home to the award-winning beachside winery (which shares its name), it is quieter than the beaches on the main side of the island. This charming cove has great swimming and if you’re feeling full of beans, take the hike up the walking track to the stony batter historic reserve.