The bay gets its unusual name from an entry in Cook’s logbook, where he wrote that the body of water was ‘doubtless a bay’. No kidding, Cap’n. It’s a big bay at that, with a string of pretty swimming beaches heading towards the Karikari Peninsula.
The main centre, Mangonui (meaning ‘Big Shark’), retains a fishing-port feel, despite cafes and gift shops now infesting its well-labelled line of historical waterfront buildings. They were constructed in the days when Mangonui was a centre of the whaling industry (1792–1850) and exported flax, kauri wood and gum.
The popular holiday settlements of Coopers Beach, Cable Bay and Taipa are restful pockets of beachside gentrification.