It is located 39 kilometres west of Auckland City centre, on the Tasman Sea coast to the north of the Manukau Harbour, amidst the Waitakere Ranges. Immediately to the north of Piha is Whites Beach, accessible only by foot. Mercer Bay is immediately to the south but is also only accessible by foot. The nearest beaches accessible by road are Karekare to the south, and Anawhata to the north.
The area has retained much of its natural beauty and isolation. The rugged coastline and forested Waitakere Ranges offer a number of walks, or tramps, ranging from easy to very difficult. Close to the beach are the Kitekite Falls which while not very large are picturesque. Swimming is possible all seasons (though only for the cold hardened outside of summer) in a pool just above the falls. At the bottom of the falls is a sheltered picnic area popular with families in the summer time.
Lion Rock is a natural formation dividing North and South Piha beaches. It is an eroded 16 million year old volcanic neck, named for its similarity to a lying male lion when viewed from the rear (shore side), Lion Rock is immediately visible to visitors as they descend along the only access road. Lion Rock has become iconic not only of Piha, but of Auckland's West Coast in general. It was featured on stamps as well as an Auckland phone book. A canyon and a blowhole are also located at Piha. Piha is a well known black sand beach, due to the high iron content, which is of volcanic origin.