The Bay of Plenty is one of New Zealand’s most desirable beach locations. From the sugar sands of Waihi Beach and Ohope to the wild and rugged coastline of Pāpāmoa Beach, Bay of Plenty has a beach environment for everyone. You can surf, kayak, picnic, swim, sunbathe, whale watch and more, so you’ll never run out of things to do. Many of Bay of Plenty’s beaches also offer nearby family attractions and amenities, such as ice cream shops, tour operators and waterfront dining. Whether you’re travelling with the kids or looking for a quiet spot for relaxing and exploring, find out more about Bay of Plenty beaches to plan your trip.
Pilot Bay for active teens
Pilot Bay Beach is a top beach destination for families and swimmers due to its sheltered environment. The beach is found below Mount Maunganui at the edge of Tauranga Harbour, keeping it separated from the open sea. The gentle surf is ideal for kids to swim, but active types can still enjoy activities like kayaking and paddleboarding. Picnic areas can be found all around the grassy spots near the sand.
Waihi Beach for swimming with kids
Waihi Beach is a long, white-sand beach that’s known for its surf breaks. Despite the wind and wave conditions, Waihi Beach has plenty of safe swimming areas for children and offers dedicated lifeguard services. Nearby, the hills of Waihi and Bowentown offer opportunities to trek and take in the coastal views. If you want to fish, the Cave, Shelly and Anzac bays nearby have excellent fishing areas. In town, you’ll find eateries, cafes and shops for all your needs.
Ohope Beach for family fun
Ohope Beach is a local favourite and one of the most picturesque beaches in Bay of Plenty. The beach is surrounded by beautiful pohutukawa trees with vibrant flowers and red and green Norfolk pines. While you're relaxing on the sand, you can take in the views of Whale Island and White Island in the distance and maybe catch a glimpse of the resident pilot whales passing by. If you have the kids, you can visit the nearby sheltered lagoon, Otarawairere Bay, which boasts clear rock pools that reveal incredible sea life at low tide.
Pukehina Beach for surfing and watersports
Located on a peninsula with a sheltered estuary on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, Pukehina Beach is a versatile spot for every interest. The beach is a popular spot for fishing, especially surf casting, and windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing. You can also take a boat out into the estuary or relax on the sand while the kids wade in the gentle shallows. Wherever you choose, the Pukehina Surf Rescue Club has lifeguards on duty.
Pāpāmoa Beach for water adventures
The expansive Pāpāmoa Beach is nestled between the Kaituna River and Mount Maunganui, giving it a sheltered and quiet atmosphere. The beach is popular for sunbathers and swimmers, especially with kids, but water sports enthusiasts also flock to the area for windsurfing, kitesurfing and other activities. The beach also boasts gorgeous, wild landscapes with stunning sunsets and sunrises over the water. Nearby, you’ll find the charming beach community with restaurants, shops and amenities.
Mount Maunganui for beach fun with kids
Mount Maunganui Beach is an award-winning beach in Bay of Plenty with white sand and clear, green waves. The Main Beach area is known for its ideal surfing waves from the artificial reef and consistently warm sea temperatures, perfect for swimmers and families. Along the edge of the beach, you’ll find cafes and shops with all kinds of summer treats. The beach is busy and not ideal for fishing, but you can head to the bridge on Moturiki Island for great populations of gurnard and snapper.
Matakana Beach for outdoor exploration
Only accessible by boat or kayak, Matakana Island has one of the most beautiful beaches in all of New Zealand. The white-sand beach is backed by pine forests and farmland, giving it an intimate feeling. One of the best parts of visiting Matakana Island is that the peninsula offers conditions for surfing and water sports on one side and a quiet beach spot on the other. Plenty of migratory birds have nesting sites at Matakana Beach, including the endangered dotterel.