Known to local Māori as Pukatea, but known for its name associated with an American whaler, Black Jack White, Whites Bay provides a sandy beach sheltered from nor'westers, and surrounded by rugged mountainous terrain with regenerating native vegetation, and is the closest swimming beach to Blenheim.
The bay is administered by the Department of Conservation, and overnight camping is permitted for a fee.
Road access is from Rarangi, by taking the Port Underwood road. This road is steep and narrow, so caution is required, however the road is sealed until Whites Bay.
Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer, and beach volleyball and sandcastle competitions are among the other popular summer events that occur here.
In 1866 the first Cook Strait telegraph link between the North and South Islands began operating with the southern end coming ashore at Whites Bay. The telegraph operator's cottage is preserved as a historic building.