The most popular and safest swimming beach in the area (some say in New Zealand) is the 11-km-long (7-mile-long) Ohope Beach, in Ohope, a 10-minute drive east of Whakatane. Take the well-signposted Ohope Road out of Whakatane's town center and over the hills to the beach. Pohutukawa Avenue, Ohope's main road, runs parallel to the beach, flanked by native pohutukawa forest, citrus trees, and grazing cows, as well as private residences. The beach is far less developed than others along the bay, nevertheless you can camp or park your campervan in the Top 10 Holiday Park or choose from a range of holiday homes or friendly B&Bs. There's lots to do: try fishing off the beach, riding the waves with the local surf school, walking the rocky coastline at Kohia Point Walk, or just getting up early to catch the sunrise.The beach will buzz with families over summer school holidays (Christmas through January), but after that you'll pretty much have it to yourself. Amenities: toilets; parking (free); lifeguards; surf school; food and drink (a block back from the beach). Best for: swimming, surfing, walking.