The small townships of the Bay of Islands are steeped in colonial history, and set against a patchwork of gently rolling farmland and ancient forests of venerable kauri trees.
For most, however, it is the coast that is the highlight. The 144 islands are scattered in the clear Pacific waters, which are abundant with marine wildlife. In the countless secluded bays, seals, dolphins and whales are often sighted.
Exploring the Bay of Islands
Take to the water to fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty, either on a Cape Brett and ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise from Paihia, or sail out on board the ‘R. Tucker Thompson’, built in the style of a 100-year-old schooner. Highlights include swimming with dolphins, or game-fishing for some of the world’s largest marlin, tuna and shark.
The area is also well-known for its diving; a string of wrecks along the coastline from Tutukaka in the south to Matauri Bay in the north has created a refuge for marine life, and the clear and protected waters of Deep Water Cove offer consistently good diving conditions throughout the year.
Places to visit in Bay of Islands
Featuring heavily on our experiences of visiting Bay of Islands, these selected places are destinations that also prove consistently popular with our travellers. Our specialists can help you choose how to include them in your wider trip, based on your preferences.
Suggested itineraries featuring Bay of Islands
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Bay of Islands, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Bay of Islands
Places & hotels on the map
Places in and around Bay of Islands
- Kerikeri Bay of Islands
- Matauri Bay Bay of Islands
- Paihia Bay of Islands
- Russell Bay of Islands
- The Kauri Coast 52 miles away
- 90 Mile Beach & Cape Reinga 74 miles away
- Warkworth 89 miles away
- Great Barrier Island 100 miles away
- Devonport 119 miles away
- Auckland 120 miles away
- Waiheke Island 122 miles away
- Coromandel Peninsula 150 miles away
- Waikato 156 miles away
- Thames & Kauaeranga Valley 156 miles away
- Tauranga 206 miles away
- Bay of Plenty 217 miles away
- Waitomo 220 miles away
- Rotorua 235 miles away
- Lake Taupo 265 miles away
- Taranaki & New Plymouth 268 miles away
- North Island 279 miles away
- Tongariro National Park 291 miles away
Photos of Bay of Islands
Accommodation choices for Bay of Islands
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Bay of Islands. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Located on a secluded promontory, Cliff Edge By The Sea is a delightful property that commands spectacular views over the Bay of Islands.
The Sanctuary at the Bay of Islands is a custom-built lodge, carefully designed to provide luxurious, elegant suites that make the most of this truly stunning location.
Set on 6,000 acres of land with spectacular views over Matauri Bay and the offshore Cavalli Islands, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is among the most exclusive and luxurious in all New Zealand.
Arcadia Lodge is a large, characterful two-storey house with just five rooms. Its expansive decking overlooking Russell and the bay is the ideal place to enjoy breakfast in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.
The Eagles Nest is made up of five luxury villas that look out over the Bay of Islands. Each has its own lap pool or spa, spacious rooms and chefs who will design a menu of your choice.
Located high on the hill overlooking Paihia and the ocean, Allegra House is a wonderful place to stay in the heart of the Bay of Islands, with its friendly hosts and rooms that boast excellent views.
A modern bed and breakfast, Decks of Paihia is perched high above the town of Paihia with spacious, en suite rooms and great views over the native bush and out into the bay.