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The Hauraki Gulf, just off the coast of Auckland, is home to a number of picturesque islands, not least of which is Waiheke Island. Peppered with olive farms, vineyards and art galleries, the island's permanent population of 9,000 swells dramatically during the holiday and summer months, with Palm Beach acting as a focal point and major draw for many of these visitors.
There are three ferry services operating between Auckland and the island, running several times a day, so getting here shouldn't be difficult. The car ferry takes under an hour to reach the island, while the passenger-only ferry takes just 40 minutes. From the port at Matiatia Bay, you can hop on a bus that will take you to Palm Beach, on the sheltered northern side of the island.
The beach itself is stunning, with green headlands seeming to emerge from the depths of the calm waters, sheltering the beach from the offshore winds. There's plenty of room along the beach to set up camp for the day but, for those who prefer their privacy, it's probably best to steer clear of the protected bay at the western end, unofficially recognised as a nudist beach. Amenities for beach-goers include toilet facilities, barbecues and a playground for the kids. There is also a local shop which stocks basic supplies.
For those planning to stay on the island overnight, the accommodation options range from small beachside apartments to the ultimate in 5-star luxury, so you can take your pick between budget self-catering, hotels complete with poolside cocktail bars, and everything in between.
If you get tired of swimming and sunbathing, another great way to pass the time on the island is with a wander along the scenic walking trails through the nature reserve. One of the more popular trails runs from Palm Beach along the coastline to Little Oneroa Beach. While following this route, keep an eye out for the orca whales that frequent this portion of the coastline, feeding on the abundance of stingrays in the local waters.
Because Palm Beach is sheltered, the area is safe for swimming year-round, though it's worth mentioning that the water is absolutely freezing between the months of May and September, so this time of year is for the brave only!
Situated by the ocean, this luxury bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Enclosure Bay, Sandy Bay, and Palm Beach. Hekerua Bay and Oneroa Bay are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated by the ocean, this holiday home is within a 15-minute walk of Hekerua Bay, Sandy Bay and Palm Beach. Enclosure Bay and Oneroa Bay are also within 1 mile (2 km).
Situated near the beach, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Anzac Bay and Palm Beach. Wild on Waiheke and Te Motu Vineyard are also within 2 mi (3 km).
This family-friendly Waiheke Island aparthotel is located near the beach, within 1 mi (2 km) of Obsidian Vineyard and Onetangi Beach. Eco Zip Adventures and Waiheke Golf Club are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated by the sea, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of Oneroa Beach, Little Oneroa Beach and Oneroa Bay. Hekerua Bay and Sandy Bay are also within 1 mile (2 km).
Situated near the beach, this hotel is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Palm Beach, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Wild on Waiheke and Te Motu Vineyard. Onetangi Beach and Tantalus Estate are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated by the sea, this apartment building is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Palm Beach and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Onetangi Beach. Anzac Bay and Enclosure Bay are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated on the waterfront, this romantic holiday home is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Beach and 2.1 mi (3.4 km) from Onetangi Beach. Sandy Bay and Obsidian Vineyard are also within 2 miles (3 km).