The Island has it all
From historical attractions such as Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle, to our nationally famous beaches, quaint villages unchanged for hundreds of years, and the wide range of attractions for families and individuals.
Robin Hill – a lovely natural adventure park, fab for kids and some things older kids will like too, like the huge swinging boat and the toboggan run. Blackgang Chine on the south of the Island – the sister park to Robin Hill, slightly different, a bit ‘Isle of Wight’ – probably better for kids under 12, but a good water slide for the older kids. Chug along on the Island Steam Railway all the way from Wootton to Smallbrook. It really is gorgeous and most relaxing. If it’s pouring with rain, why not go to a good old fashioned and very cheap cinema – The Commodore in Ryde only £2.50 per ticket ! Or for the younger kids – Jolly Rogers indoor play centre in Newport is the best on the Island. There’s always indoor Bowling on Ryde seafront, or a swim in the beachside pool there (with retractable roof when the sun’s out!)
Walk along to the Needles – a stunning blowy walk with amazing views over the white cliffs. There is also a National Trust museum at the end, with wartime and rocket launching info. Just before you get there, on the left is a lovely cream tea place called Warren Farm. To the hills on the right is another memorable walk with great views over the Solent at Headon Warren. West Wight Alpacas has just started running treks along there too, with their friendly Alpacas. St Helens Duver is a maze of sand dunes and a good sandy beach at the entrance to Bembridge Harbour. On the green at St Helens are some good little Restaurants, including Dans Kitchen and a lovely tearoom nearby. Bembridge has some good walks along the beaches, a pretty harbour, and interesting lifeboat station and some good restaurants and a deli in the village including the excellent Locks Lane and the new Angel in the Kitchen.
For the Adventurous
Surf at Compton Bay quite near the Needles – the surf dudes beach – with a nice ice cream van in the car park. Further along, Dinosaur footprints are visible in the rocks – organised tours are also available.
If your kids aren’t so keen on walking – have you tried Geocaching? It’s basically a hi-tech treasure hunt – done from your smart phone/GPS. Just download the free app – press search and you will find a wealth of caches all over the Island waiting to be found.
There are plenty of places to hire bikes throughout the Island, including Cowes. You can even have electric bikes delivered to you (over 14yrs only). There are plenty of great Cycle routes all over the Island. Cycling along the river from Cowes is lovely, and easy – take a picnic maybe and eat by the river.
isleofwightadventureactivities.co.uk organise Kayaking, Coasteering, mountain boarding, climbing and lots more including paragliding, Laser combat & Clay pigeon shooting.
Tacktisle in Bembridge Harbour offer lots of fun water activities including sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding – and segway rental !
www.goodleaf.co.uk – As seen on the BBC! Award winning Goodleaf Tree Climbing are the UK’s recreational tree climbing specialists. They offer enjoyable outdoor experiences for ages 8 to 80 in a designated AONB on the sunny Isle of Wight.
Carisbrooke Castle is an interesting old place with great battlements to climb and sometimes even staged battles, etc.
Osbourne House in East Cowes is very interesting for all ages. Plus they do pony and cart trips down to the Swiss chalet that the princes and princesses looked after. They have a good restaurant with excellent lunches.
Towns and Villages
Yarmouth is a lovely little old fashioned harbour town, with a few great shops and some good restaurants. Sit our in the garden overlooking the sea at the George Hotel and enjoy fabulous food and service. At On The Rocks you can cook your own supper on a hot stone. And for great seafood in a lovely old sail loft – Salty’s is the place to be.
Cowes – the heart of British Yachting – a great place to wander through, with lots of boats to watch, great shopping, though sadly not so many great restaurants. Coast is a good café/bar/restaurant, Saffron is the best Indian, Tiffins is great for well filled baguettes at lunchtime and that’s about all I could recommend!
Walk or drive along the seafront to the village of Gurnard, past the beachhuts and there’s a great seaside café serving breakfast, snacks and lunches and ice creams. You can walk behind the sailing club further along the beach and eventually on to the Little Gloster restaurant with fantastic food and sunsets.
Ryde is an old Victorian town that has seen better days really ! But some great new shops on the lower High Street leading down to the sea – worthy of a visit for contemporary unusual lovely things are Smith & Stephenson, Crocus, Beachcomber and Flowers By Nic. The restaurant Olivos is a really good family restaurant with nice Mediterranean atmosphere. Great food.
Visit Seaview a quintessential English seaside village with some smart new beachy shops and cafes. Have a crab ramekin at the Seaview Hotel, or drinks on the seafront from The Old Fort.
Sandown and Shanklin area bit bucket and spade and arcade! Though Sandown has a good Dinosaur museum, and Shanklin Chine is a lovely walk. However Ventnor has a couple of smart new boutique hotels – The Royal and The Hamborough – with amazing food. Ventnor also has a great quayside restaurant overlooking the marina and fisheries, with great food and an interesting Island shaped pool the little kids can play in while you wait!
Along from Ventnor by car (or you can walk all along the stunning coastal path) is the secret Steephill Cove, a great place to clamber over the rocks and enjoy crab sandwiches from the café there, or if you’re feeling flash, book into the almost Caribbean island feel Boathouse Restaurant (if you can) for their decadent seafood platter.AVAILABILITY & BOOKING