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For a small place, Whakatane has a lot going for it - especially its sparkling waters and beautiful beaches. There are plenty of options for fun and relaxation and it's always a special experience.
Thornton Beach is on the western side of the river from Whakatane and a good choice for a long wild beach stroll to yourself. Enjoy the spectacular ocean and island views. Above all, Thornton Beach is a fisherman’s haven where you can surf cast from shore or use the boat ramp and head out to sea.
For a quick dip on your doorstep, walk out of your accommodation at ONE88 and alongside the river towards the mouth. At the area known as The Heads, there is a small sandy beach behind the rock wall luring you to chill out, soak up the sun or simply do nothing.
New Zealand's best beach at Ohope is a popular beauty spot and it's easy to see why; a long sweep of flawless sand and lapping waves set against a backdrop of gnarled pohutakawa. There is a perfect play area with safe swimming, surfing, picnic spots, playgrounds and toilets as well as nearby eateries.
If you fancy some serious beach eye candy, make the effort to get to this hidden cove which only has walking and boating access. Pack a picnic and your sunscreen and spend the day. Swim, snorkel and gather shellfish. It doesn't get better.
Use Whakatane as your base and head east for the day to explore a line up of unspoilt beaches. Hukuwai Beach is just out of Opotiki. It's sandy, safe for swimming, surfcasting and long-line fishing. Only 3km further is Tirohanga Beach, often described as the gateway to the East Cape. Revel in the power of the ocean and the feeling of sand between your toes. Why go any further?
Photos courtesy of www.whakatane.com.