The Isle of Wight has over 57 miles of coastline, featuring some beautiful beaches, 17 of which were designated for Blue Flag and Seaside Awards in 2014. If you’re looking for a traditional British seaside holiday, complete with bucket and spade, sandcastles, deckchairs and windbreaks, you’re in luck. However, the Isle of Wight also has fantastic undeveloped stretches of coastline, such as at Compton Bay; perfect for kitesurfing. Then there are beautiful coves, like Freshwater Bay and stretches of unspoilt tree-lined sand, including Priory Beach.
Towns & Villages
With just 140,000 people in 147 square miles, the Isle of Wight is one of the three least populous counties in the UK. Even the county town of Newport has a population of only 25,000, but over two million tourists will visit the island in 2018, turning it into a buzzing and vibrant hub of activities and events.
Renowned for its yachting, this town lends its name to the international regatta ‘Cowes Week’ which runs every year, doubling the local population. It’s home to one of the few remaining ‘floating bridges’ - a chain car ferry linking Cowes to East Cowes across the estuary of the River Medina. Red Funnel’s vehicle ferry and passenger ferry routes link Cowes to Southampton.
The largest settlement on the island, Newport has a collection of shops and facilities which make it a great place to stock up on supplies, or make the most of a rainy day. It’s home to a multiplex cinema, theatre, shopping centre, museum and several supermarkets. Each year, the Isle of Wight festival is held here at Seaclose Park, just a 10 minute drive from our Rookley Park resort.
This seaside resort is full of quirky features, including the railway, which runs all the way to the end of the pier, from where you can catch a catamaran to Portsmouth. One of the world’s few remaining commercial hovercraft routes also operates from here, with a journey time of just 10 minutes to Southsea. There is also a swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, and boating lake along the long esplanade, with boutique shops, museums and galleries further inland.
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.
Located in Sandown Bay, Shanklin is a town with historical interest, with an old village and sandy beach. There are plenty of restaurants along the seafront and it’s a good place to visit for lunch, with a pleasant walk along the promenade towards Sandown. Alternatively, you can take an open top bus along the seafront in summer, for the ‘Sandown Bay Tour’.
Nestled on the hillside above the sea, with lush greenery and azure waters, Ventnor calls to mind the French riviera. This small town has a beautiful, gently sloping beach of sand and fine shingle set in a sheltered bay. The southernmost beach on the Isle of Wight, it’s popular year-round but more tranquil than the larger resorts even at the height of the summer season. Vintage beach huts can be hired from the hut on the sea wall, as can deckchairs, sun loungers and windbreaks, which are hammered into the sand for you with an old wooden mallet. Along the seafront are a small number of shops, amusements, cafes and restaurants as well as a pub serving food.
Yarmouth lies in the north-west corner of the Isle of Wight and is one of its few gateways – you can reach the historic town by catching a ferry from Lymington. Yarmouth is home to some of the oldest architecture on the Island, including a 16th century castle and Grade II-listed pier, both of which offer fantastic views of the Solent.