A seaside destination bordering Shanklin, this town benefits from a long stretch of accessible sandy beach. Sandown is an ideal destination for nature-lovers, with a National Trust chalk downland to the north and Alverstone Mead Local Nature Reserve, a popular spot for birdwatching, further inland.
All about Sandown
Like its name suggests, Sandown is a seaside resort on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight. It’s unsurprising, then, that the town is most well-known for its incredible golden sand beach, which stretches along the coast for miles and miles. It’s also home a traditional pier which dates back to 1879!
Of course, there’s more to Sandown than just its beach. With a wealth of attractions, eateries and annual events, it’s a great place to visit during your next Isle of Wight stay. Hopefully, our guide will help you plan your upcoming visit.
Things to do in Sandown
Families will adore Sandown, but there’s plenty for older visitors to enjoy too. Here are some of the attractions you must see while you’re here.
Isle of Wight Zoo
Famous for being home to one of the largest collection of tigers in Britain, the Isle of Wight Zoo makes for a great morning or afternoon family outing. Your kids will adore Casper, the beloved white lion, plus there are also lemurs, owls, wallabies, racoons, monkeys and more to see. Many of the lions and tigers that live here are rescued, so it’s wonderful to see the zoo having a positive impact on these animals’ lives.
The Garlic Farm
This proud local business is more than 30 years old and the largest specialist garlic grower in the UK. If you adore garlic, this farm may well be your idea of heaven. The free tasting room will allow you to try a variety of garlic-based products, which you can then buy in the farm shop. Garlic ice cream and garlic beer, anyone?
If your stomach’s still rumbling, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the restaurant and sample the gourmet garlic dishes. On a sunny summer’s day, the view of the farm here, and its various animals, is simply wonderful.
You should have no problem finding this attraction – the pterosaur-shaped building on the seafront is hard to miss! Kids will adore the interactive exhibits and fossil displays, but the real highlight is a room full of life-sized dinosaurs. Here, you can experience what it might have felt like to be alive during the cretaceous period, as various smells and sounds are used to recreate the environment. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out!
Sandown Beach and Pier
You can’t visit Sandown and not spend a day enjoying the beautiful award-winning Blue Flag beach. It’s popular with surfers as well as families – it certainly is the perfect beach to build a sandcastle on!
The traditional pier has a range of indoor and outdoor attractions on it, including classic penny slots, modern arcade games, fairground rides, indoor crazy golf, ten-pin bowling and a huge children’s play area. Rain or shine, you won’t be bored here!
Where to eat in Sandown
There’s no shortage of fantastic pubs, cafes and restaurants in Sandown – all palates really are catered for! Here are some of the most popular and highly-rated eateries in the area.
The Pointer Inn
Booking is essential if you want to eat at The Pointer Inn, as it’s a real favourite with both locals and tourists. It’s not hard to see why either – the chef specials are different every single day and are made using fresh, local produce. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the pub’s more classic dishes, such as homemade lamb pie or beer-battered cod and chips. If you have room (doubtful, the portions are huge!), then you’ll want to enjoy one of the Instagram-worthy puddings – they look and taste incredible.
The Beach Café
Located opposite Sandown Beach, The Beach Café has amazing sea views. The home-cooked food is pretty special too – you can pop in for one of the many cooked breakfasts on offer, stop by for a spot of lunch or even come here for dinner. If it’s your sweet tooth that needs satisfying, then the homemade cakes and ice cream sundaes are sure to do the trick. Whenever you choose to visit, the polite and friendly staff will make you feel right at home.
Another fantastic restaurant offering breath-taking views, The Bandstand is, quite literally, a converted bandstand, so the building itself is very attractive. If you visit during the day, you can enjoy a freshly-ground coffee with a slice of homemade cake, or a light lunch complimented by a cold beer or glass of wine. In the evening, a variety of locally-sourced fresh fish is served; although there’s plenty of other great dishes if someone in your party isn’t a fan of seafood.
Unmissable events in Sandown
There’s always something happening on the Isle of Wight, especially during the summer months. Sandown is no different, with a variety of events suitable for families as well as couples. Here are the ones you shouldn’t miss.
The Island loves a good carnival and while several take place in Sandown every year, there are two you should really try and see during your next Isle of Wight holiday. The main carnival, which takes place in July, isn’t just an evening event, it’s a whole day chock-full of fun activities, finishing with a float and costume parade.
If you’re visiting in August, then check out the Illuminated Carnival, with its beautiful lit-up procession. Plus, there’s always a fireworks display too!
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
Yes, the island really does adore garlic! However, there’s so much more to this awesome food show. Pick up a few hot tips from the cooking demonstrations, browse hundreds of art and craft and food-based stalls, listen to local live music, enjoy the giant fun fair with the kids and, most importantly, sample some incredible local produce. There’s even a beer tent for the adults.
How to get to Sandown
Located just north of Shanklin, Sandown isn’t particularly hard to find. Should you want a helping hand when it comes to directions, though, here’s how to get to Sandown from each of our parks’ locations.
From Rookley Country Park
Sandown is only a short 20-minute car-ride away from Rookley Country Park. Start your journey on the main road/A3020 and continue down it until you reach Newport Road/A3056. Next, take the A3055 to Avenue Road/B3329; continue down this road until you reach the centre of Sandown.
From Colwell Bay
Although Sandown is on the opposite side of the island to Colwell Bay, reaching it isn’t a problem. It should take you just over 40 minutes to drive to the town. Begin by taking Monks Lane to Colwell Road/A3054 in Norton Green. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto River Road/A3054 and continue to follow the A-road.
When you reach the following roundabout, turn off at Medina Way (third exit) and stay on the A3020 until you reach another roundabout, at which you’ll want the first exit onto Fairlee Road/A3054. Then, turn right onto Staplers Road and stay on it until you see Long Lane on your left. Turn off onto this road and at the roundabout, take the third exit onto Downend Road.
Next, turn left onto The Downs Road. In 2.5 miles, turn right onto Brading Down Road. Continue on to Bullys Hill then turn right onto The Mall and continue on to Yarbridge. Turn right onto Morton Road/A3055 and follow the A-road. When you reach the roundabout, head straight across it onto Avenue Road/B3329 and continue until you reach your destination.
Parking in Sandown
Parking shouldn’t be a problem in Sandown, as there are three car parks to choose from. Just make sure you don’t accidentally park in the short stay car park if you’re planning to spend the whole day in Sandown. The three car parks available are listed below:
St Johns Road (short stay, five hours of parking maximum)
Station Avenue (long stay)
Fort Street (long stay)
There you have it - that’s everything you need to know about Sandown. We hope this guide has given you some ideas of what to do and see the next time you’re on the island. If you’re after further inspiration or you want to know which other areas are good to visit, please check out our guides here. Of course, we’re always on had to provide advice if you need it, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us too.