Waiheke Island is a beautiful island about 40 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland. A treasure in the ocean that surrounds the greater Auckland area, it acts as a relief from the industrialism of the city. It is an oasis of surf homes and calm beaches, centered around Oneroa Village.
Oneroa Village is a five minute car ride from the ferry terminal on Waiheke Island and is filled with restaurants and shops. Fenice, an Italian bar and café serves pizza, pasta, and salads, while the Oyster Inn serves fresh New Zealand seafood. The best part of the town, however, is the Island Gelato Company stand. After spending 2 months in Italy last autumn, my judgment for gelato is irrationally harsh, and yet this gelato definitely meets my European standard, especially their New Zealand honeycomb gelato.
Waiheke Island is 20 km long, but transportation around the island is easy. There are many different beaches to choose from, and each is accessible by bus. I have visited three of them: Oneroa Beach, Little Oneroa Beach, and Onetangi Beach.
Oneroa Beach is just a two minute walk from the main village. Although it is the most easily accessible, it is certainly not the most beautiful beach on the island. If one is looking for ease, then Oneroa Beach is the answer, but with just a bit more effort, much more spectacular beaches are possible.
Little Oneroa Beach is five minutes down the road from Oneroa Beach and is separated by a large cliff formation. An enclave separated from Oneroa Beach, Little Oneroa Beach has a sense of seclusion that the other beaches do not have. A wood oven pizza shop just beside it is also an added benefit.
The best beach on Waiheke Island is Onetangi Beach. A 20-25 minute bus ride from the ferry terminal, it is significantly bigger than either of the aforementioned beaches. The sand is whiter and brighter, and the water seems to be clearer. Two cafes sit just above the beach on the road.
In essence, Waiheke Island provides a sense of seclusion and serenity that seems to lacking in the industrial and multi-dimensional city of Auckland. It is the area’s breath of fresh air, and is certainly worth the journey.