Charter boats regularly take scuba divers out to many of the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Little Barrier Island is a nature reserve where no landing is allowed without a permit. It's surrounded by rocks and boulders and offers plenty of dive sites where divers many find a crayfish or two or collect a feed of scallops.
Great Barrier Island has the remains of several shipwrecks including the historic Wairarapa near Miner's Head and the Wiltshire off Rosalie Bay. Northwest of Tryphena Harbour is the intact wreck of the yacht Taniwha with the top at 17m.
The eastern side of Arid or Rakitu Island has interesting diving and the archway on the northwest side is great for snorkellers. Thee are good schools of demoiselles, maomao, occasional snapper and big blue moki with kingfish in summer.
The Mokohinau Islands lie more than 40km northwest of Leigh in the clear waters of the East Auckland Current. Burgess Island is the only island that landing is permitted and is the one with the lighthouse. Spectacular dive sites include Simpson Rock and the Canyon. Massive schools of fish congregate with kingfish feeding on them in summer. Groper Island drops steeply to beyond sport diving depths. Here almost anything can and does swim past. Good colourful walls, plenty of fish life and the chance of a crayfish or two.
The Hen and Chicken Islands group, 40km north of Leigh, is protected with no landing permitted. Crayfish hunters can be lucky at most dive sites with the more exposed sites less dived and more productive. Fish include blue and pink maomao, trevally, kingfish, kahawai, wrasses, leatherjackets and occasionally small hapuku.
Sail Rock is very tall and sits to the south of Hen Island. Divers descend past walls covered in anemones to boulders with sponges and kelp cover. Silver drummer, maomao, kahawai, red moki, wrasses and pigfish are all common.
Free Wi-Fi, comfortable queen-size bed, own ensuite, own entrance, free use of sit-on kayaks, includes continental breakfast in room, fridge, TV, 400m to Sawmill Cafe, Leigh Bar and Leigh Eats, 5 minute drive to marine reserve.