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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 in Waiheke Island, this hotel is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Palm Beach, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Onetangi Beach and Wild on Waiheke. Te Motu Vineyard and Tantalus Estate are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated in Waiheke Island, 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).
Situated by the ocean, this luxury bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Enclosure Bay and Palm Beach. Oneroa Beach and Onetangi Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).
This family-friendly Waiheke Island apartment building is located near the beach, within 1 mi (2 km) of Obsidian Vineyard and Onetangi Beach. Palm Beach is 2.5 mi (4 km) away.
Situated by the sea, this apartment building is within 3 miles (5 km) of Palm Beach, Onetangi Beach and Oneroa Beach. Anzac Bay and Sandy Bay are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Located in Waiheke Island, this beachfront apartment building is next to a golf course and within 3 mi (5 km) of Shelly Beach, Oneroa Beach and Onetangi Beach. Palm Beach is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) away.
Situated near the beach, this apartment building is within 3 miles (5 km) of Palm Beach, Onetangi Beach and Oneroa Beach. Anzac Bay and Sandy Bay are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated by the ocean, this guesthouse is within 3 miles (5 km) of Palm Beach, Onetangi Beach and Oneroa Beach. Obsidian Vineyard and Anzac Bay are also within 2 miles (3 km).