Isle of Wight Beaches
There are a wide variety of beautiful, safe beaches to explore on the Isle of Wight. Some are long, golden sandy stretches, others sandy with a peppering of shingle and for the children, many with rock pools a plenty for crabbing fun.
Please view the areas below to get an idea about some of the beaches our beautiful Island has to offer.
South East Coast (Bembridge – Ventnor)
On the Eastern Point of the Island, Bembridge is a small town with a range of different small beaches. Follow the road out of the town towards St. Helens to access a golden sandy beach on the North side of the point, favoured by families and, due to the strong winds, kite flyers and windsurfers. At the bottom of Lane End Road, you will find a narrower and rocky beach with great opportunities to explore the beach wildlife in the rock pools. If you follow the beach round the headland to the East, this is where the lifeboat station is located and you will eventually get to the Crab & Lobster Pub serving fresh seafood often landed on the beach right next to the pub!
The shoreline between Point Beach and the Lifeboat station is a good flat sandy beach, although there is very little beach available at high tide. The beach can be accessed by footpaths at the end of Ducie Avenue and Swains Road, and from either Point Beach, or Forelands. At low tide, at the edge of the beach, part of a rocky ledge is exposed, which can be slippery, but makes an ideal place for rock pooling.
The beach between the Lifeboat station and Whitecliff Bay is the easternmost part of the Isle of Wight, and is a good flat sandy beach, again there is very little beach to relax on at high tide. The beach can be accessed by footpaths at the end of Beachfield Road and Forelands Field Road, and from the car park at the end of Lane End Road. At low tide Bembridge Ledge makes a great place for rock pooling and crabbing.
If you continue along the beachfront you will come to Whitecliff Bay, this is a nice sandy beach with the great views of Culver Cliff at the southern edge. Accessed by steep inclines from the paths above the beach, you can reach the top of the cliff and take in some amazing views and even have a refreshment and meal at the pub up there.
Note, at low tide you might be tempted to walk round the edge of Culver Cliff. Do not do this. The RNLI and Coastguards have to rescue many people who have been trapped by the rising tides.
Sandown’s esplanade has traditional seaside cafes, souvenir and beach shops, including an amusement pier with a crazy golf course. You will find a long, wide, sandy beach ideal for sunbathing and families to enjoy some fun in the sea. There is the option to hire deckchairs, sun loungers, parasols and windbreaks for you to set up camp on the beach and if you are feeling adventurous you can hire pedalloes.
Sandown Bay often has an assortment of cruise liners, cross channel ferries and shipping container vessels and sail boats passing by as well as the odd motor cruiser moored in the bay. When bad weather comes in the ships come in to shelter from the storms and also sit off the bay when they are waiting to be taken in to port by a jump pilot.
To the North of the town you will find Yaverland, this is where the sailing club and boat park is located with a slipway for launching boats and is an area of the beach dedicated to water sports with competitions taking place throughout the summer. This end of the beach is often quieter, a 5-10 minute walk from the main amenities and long stretch of sandy beach. From this end of the beach you can take a leisurely walk up to Culver cliff and take in the breath taking panoramic sea views of the Solent and beyond. The main seafront area begins slightly west of the pier where there is plenty of parking and from here the road runs along the Esplanade down to where the sand narrows. At this point there are trampolines and a beach shop and shore side cafe and the road turns inland.
If you follow the sea wall southwards from Sandown, you will reach Lake Beach, which is usually very quiet but it is a lovely safe sandy beach and offers great swimming for children. Fossil Hunters will enjoy this route as you can get right up to the cliff face (but be careful of falling rocks), if you continue along the promenade you will eventually reach Shanklin.
Shanklin Beach forms part of Sandown Bay with its famous golden sands and safe bathing areas. The water is clear and the beaches gently sloping, there is a pitch and putt, an amusement arcade and an indoor soft play for children along with Cafes, restaurants and pubs scattered along the Esplanade.
This beautiful beach can get busy in the summer time and a great place to relax and enjoy summer Island life, but it is also very appealing all year around. The family friendly end to the north has the usual facilities, similar to Sandown on a smaller scale. The beach is sandy, easily accessible, and safe for swimming and the sea is clean making this beach a popular site for water sports of all kinds and water safety zoning is in place to ensure bathers and recreational users are kept separate where necessary.
You can follow the sea wall south to find smaller coves from where you can climb the steps up the cliffs to get to Shanklin ‘Old Town’ and the spectacular Shanklin Chine. In the summer season, you can catch a single deck open top bus from the town centre down to the beach.
The coast south of this beach is the Luccombe area leading on to Ventnor and is partly inaccessible and prone to landslides so only recommended to intrepid walkers with a thorough understanding of the tides – there is danger to find yourself cut off if you do not time it right.
This was a popular Victorian seaside resort with a lot of history. The town is built on the side of a cliff and therefore walking around it can be exhausting, but well worth it and the backdrop of the town from the beach, makes Ventnor Bay feel decidedly Mediterranean. Walk down the Victorian ‘Cascade’ to find yourself on the Esplanade where there is a boat haven at one end and rocks at either side of the bay for kids to go crabbing.
The beach is not as sandy as its neighbouring towns to the north, but very popular and is definitely a place to visited as well as a great suntrap of a bay. There is also a newly developed Marina available to light craft and if you walk past the Marina for a couple of miles north east you will reach the beautiful cove and village of Bonchurch which is famous for it’s locally caught lobsters and crabs. Bonchurch beach is peaceful, it is made up of fine shingle sand and when the tide goes out there are great rock pools to explore.
Walk south west along Ventnor Esplanade to follow the cliff top paths to Steephill Cove, this is one fantastic beach and bay you must visit. At the top of the cliffs here you will find the Botanical Gardens with many rare plants usually only grown in Mediterranean climates and home to the unusual bowl-shaped ground of Ventnor Cricket Club with its newly built Pavilion.
Ventnor has a beautiful, gently sloping beach of sand and fine shingle set in a sheltered bay. The beach is popular all year round but is more tranquil than the larger resorts even at the height of the summer season.
Along the seafront in Ventnor there are a small number of cafes and restaurants as well a couple of family friendly public houses serving great food and a local real ale or two.
South West Coast (Niton – The Needles)
This coast has steep cliffs and dramatic scenery. The clay-footed cliffs are prone to landslides, leaving the main road extremely close in parts! Many Dinosaur fossils have been found here and are displayed in a museum near Brighstone. It is also home to Blackgang Chine, an ever popular and ever changing family attraction on the cliff edge. Further along the coast road you will find the Isle of Wight Pearl Centre where you can pick your own pearl and have a spot of lunch in the café.
There are no towns along the coast so you can take advantage of the unspoilt beaches that are dotted along the bottom of the cliff. The beaches that are accessible have small car parks at the side of the road, and a steep walk is needed to get to the beaches
The drive from Ventnor to Niton is through an area called ‘The Undercliff’. Twisting through ancient and recent landslips, the road is a spectacular drive, taking in the tiny, but pretty village of St. Lawrence. Niton itself is a small village with few facilities, but worth a walk round, before a walk (or hike) down the landslip to the desolate beach at the bottom, infamous for its fossil-hunting potential. There are no facilities here, but worth the effort for the isolation from the tourist trail – take your walking boots! Also, beware that access may be limited if recent movement has occurred.
Compton Beach is in a league of its own, it provides a two mile stretch of beautiful contrasting golden and dark sands, with rolling seas. There are tumbling multi-coloured sandstone cliffs, and in the distance the white chalk cliffs of Freshwater provide stunning sights to be seen.
You could be forgiven for thinking you were on the Cornwall coast or even Australia. This bay is extremely popular with surfers and kite surfers all year around. Compton offers a totally natural do-it-yourself beach. Bring all you need including windbreaks (if necessary), body and surf boards and food and drink, although there is an ice-cream van that also vends beverages, snacks and a few beach toys.
There are now newly restored steep steps lead down to the beach from Hanover Point/Shippard’s Chine where there is a large National Trust car park, toilet facilities and fresh water tap or drive further west to Compton Chine/Farm and find a smaller National Trust car park on the opposite side of the coastal road and tiered steep steps down to the beach.
Compton is a great place to pick up fossils, including those of dinosaurs, you can book tours on the beach to see the dinosaur footprints in the sandstone ledge at Hanover Point that are exposed at low tide.
Freshwater bay is an interesting place to visit on a day out in West Wight. It’s rocky beach, white cliff and rock formations are great for exploring and there are some seasonal cafes and shops here.
Freshwater Bay is one of the most picturesque beaches in West Wight and lies just to the South of the town of Freshwater. The beach is peppered with a mixture of grey flint and chalk pebbles. There is sand below the low water mark and some sandy areas to sit if you walk to the more eastern side of the bay. There is also a rock ledge revealed at low tide which is great for rock pooling with the children.
The Bay has been formed from the chalk cliffs that surround it by thousands of years of exposure to the waves. Smugglers once used the caves around the bottom of the chalk cliffs that are exposed at low tide – if you wish to explore them it is best to find a local guide as you can become cut off by the tide. This beach is also popular for surfing and water sports, with boats anchoring offshore and the Freshwater Lifeboat using this as a launch when being called to provide assistance on the water.
The Needles and Alum Bay
The famous Needles Chalk Stacks and Lighthouse are probably the most recognisable landmarks on the island and you cannot come to the Isle of Wight without visiting them. Parking is available at Alum Bay Theme Park at the top of the cliffs, however there is a charge. There are family friendly activities available here such as glass blowing factory, sweet making factory, Coloured Sand Souvenir making and various shops etc.
Take the steps or Chair Lift (seasonal) down to Alum Bay Beach for the best views of the Needles. Boat Trips can be taken from here to the Needles in the summer, but for the land lovers, the small, shingle and pebbly beach is interesting with its backdrop of world famous 21 shades multi-coloured cliffs.
The crystal clear waters are a favourite for local swimmers and perfect for the children to paddle. Enjoy watching the boats moor in the bay during the day and the fisherman enjoying the tranquillity at dusk. Alum bay beach can be accessed on foot via the steps taking you through the picturesque chine or ride the iconic chairlift from The Needles Park.
The North West Coast (Totland – West Cowes)
This coast takes you from the high cliffs of the west up to the low-lying coast of the north. Most of the towns are mainly residential, but often worth a visit. Nature lovers will love the area with wildlife reserves along the way dotted in amongst the marshy coastal inlets.
Totland offer a nice beach, which can get busy at peak season weekends and is especially popular with young families. Coastal walking provides great views of the mainland Hurst Castle Spit especially on a fine and clear day.
The beach is sandy, ideal for getting stuck in with your bucket and spade and the water is beautifully clear and is ideal for swimming however the coastline here is rocky.
The beach has a short pier, opposite which is the public toilets and a row of pretty beach huts. A narrow road runs down to the seafront, which has some parking, but it is best to park at the top and walk down in the summer months as it as popular with the locals as it is visitors and provides a chance to take in the seas air and views..
Walk along the seafront and there is a pub on the sea wall at the eastern end of the road. With large picture windows on the sun room side of this pub and restaurant, this is a great place to eat as you watch the sun sink below the horizon.
At dusk if you walk eastwards you will find rod and line fishers, or locals having a bbq with friends whilst watching the sun go down on the shore. Boats moor offshore during the day, with their occupants using the clear waters to bathe or come ashore to collect supplies and enjoy the restaurant.
Yarmouth is a vibrant town, renowned for its sailing and being home to one of the cross Solent ferry ports. The beach is small with a mixture of sand, shingle and pebbles. However there are 4 alternative beaches around a 10 minute drive away. There is a pier leading out to sea which is very pretty and also is a great place to watch ships and boats, especially during the racing season and Cowes Week. Yarmouth is a great place for bird watchers and there are beautiful views of the Solent, the beach isn’t perhaps suitable for swimming due to strong offshore currents. For beautiful views, there is the Fort Victoria Country Park which is great for having a picnic.
Gurnard is a small pretty resort to the west of Cowes, where there are toilet facilities, an excellent cafe and the Woodvale Inn. You will also find the Little Gloster, this is a fabulous restaurant offer great food, wine and beautiful sea views, especially at sundown. It is a particularly good location to watch the liners and large ships entering Southampton Water. In addition, there is a popular sailing club which regularly meets and races. Whilst the beach is predominantly pebbles, it is an excellent vantage point with very good views.
The beach is made up of shingle with patches of sand, it is popular with local families and often they will launch smaller sailing boats from the slipway. A real community and beach friendly atmosphere is felt here. It should be noted that the water is not considered particularly safe for bathing unless you are a strong swimmer, because of the strong tides and currents within the Solent.
Access to the sea wall, a level walk between Cowes and Gurnard is extremely good for the disabled and elderly. Between Cowes and Gurnard, there are several cafes, restaurants and toilet facilities.
There is parking along the seafront towards Cowes as well as a small car park at the beach. It is also possible to reach Gurnard beach from Cowes by walking along the Esplanade.
A bustling town with an atmosphere that is great in the summer with lots of shops and cafes to look around. The beach is really only on the western end towards Gurnard, but the whole town is built as close to the sea as possible,
The beach at Cowes is a shingle beach and runs West of the centre of Cowes along the Esplanade. At the Cowes end of the beach there is a small park behind the beach where many people prefer to sit and enjoy a picnic or sunbathe between swims.
There is an ice cream shop on the Esplanade but refreshment can be brought from Cowes centre or some prefer to walk down to Gurnard where there is a cafe serving hot and cold food with views of the sea.
In the evening the beach is a great place to see the lights of Southampton and passing ships which have a still beauty as they pass in the night.
There is parking along the seafront and in neighbouring streets. A car park on the outskirts of Cowes is also an option there are public toilets behind the beach front.
North East Coast (East Cowes – St Helens)
A busy and varied coastline offering a bit of everything!
This semi-industrial town does not have much of a beach, but the esplanade does stretch right up to the most northerly tip of the island, and if you follow the sea wall further, you will come to the woodland coastal Estate of Queen Victoria’s favourite holiday home, Osbourne House.
East Cowes has a shingle and sand beach offering lovely views out across the Solent and also provides fantastic views across to West Cowes and its marina,. It is good for family swimming and as it is tucked away behind the town it a great beach to visit if you are looking for somewhere a bit quieter.
The beach runs along the Esplanade which is a very short distance out of East Cowes town, and the access road runs the length of the beach behind the sea wall, with a wooded area to the rear perfect for walks especially as when the tides comes in there is not a lot of sand remaining. There are a great variety of vessels regularly moving through the Solent meaning this esplanade lends a great vantage point for watching cruise liners, boats and yachts.
There is an adventure playground and paddling pool for children to have fun and play for when the tides takes up the beach. Parking along the Esplanade is mainly free, however t there are time restrictions as you get closer to town. Alternatively there is a carpark for longer stays with a café next to it that sells a variety of food and beverages, and a short walk back towards town there is a supermarket.
The beach is long and sandy which at low tide stretches far out to sea, creating pools for exploration within the sand banks. There is a grassy park situated within the woodland behind and a 9 hole golf course. Beyond Appley Tower to the East, dogs are permitted and there are two good beach restaurants either ends of the beach that are well worth a visit.
The beach to the western end of the esplanade can disappear altogether at high tide, but great for kids to run around and pick up shells etc. when the tide goes out
The eastern end is more suited to those looking for soft sand, sunbathing and entertainment, backed by the Ryde Pavilion (10 Pin Bowling), an amusement park with kid’s rides and a boating lake with swimming pool. Carry on to the east and you will get to beautiful Appley Beach which is just as sandy but usually a bit quieter.
Appley Beach consists of 6 miles of beautiful sandy shores and provides a wonderful play area for children to explore with their buckets and spades. The views across the Solent are great and children will love watching the hovercraft shuttling across.
Ryde Sands at Seaview
The Ryde Sands, a large sand bank south of Ryde extends down to form a sandy beach to the north of the centre of Seaview. This beach is several hundred meters long and goes all the way to Puckpool Point. The beach here is fairly quiet compared with Seagrove Bay at the Seaview end as there are no cafes, or facilities behind the beach. However, it is only a short walk into town to find refreshment.
At the north end of the beach, near Puckpool Point there is a historic battery (Puckpool Battery) behind which there is a shop/cafe and toilet facilities. The Boathouse pub is here, it offers great food with seating inside and out. The beach runs along to the yacht club where it stops and then resumes to mixture of sand, shingle and rocky area then gradually turns to a sandy shore.
Seagrove Bay is just to the south of the centre of Seaview Village, an amazing beach that is long, gently sloping and sandy, making the beach very popular with locals and holiday makers. There is a small cafe and shop selling beachside refreshments and snacks but the town is quite close by if you fancy more of a variety.
Priory Bay Beach
This less well known beach is beyond Seagrove Bay and is about a 20min walk from Seaview around the headland. This beautiful sandy beach is great for a day of peaceful seclusion, beautiful views and clear waters. There are no facilities at the beach so bring a picnic to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach or perhaps a bottle of wine to enjoy on an evening stroll.
‘The Duver’ at St Helens is an unspoilt area with sand dunes containing many rare flowers, birds and wildlife. St. Helens beach is opposite Bembridge harbour and is in an Easterly direction from St. Helens, with just one road in and out it is easily missed.
This is a lovely sandy beach that is sprinkled with shingle and pebbles and becomes very popular in the summer. There are breakwaters at regular intervals, it has a sea wall that runs the full length that provides a promenade with beach huts, toilets and a café. The rock pools are great for children to while away hours crabbing and the water is great for swimming.
The views are undeniably amazing offering sights across Bembridge Harbour and the Solent, it is a great place to sit and watch the yachts and cruise liners go by. If you are feeling a little more adventurous then this beach is also favoured by some for water sports.
A great place to try here is The Baywatch Café, serving snacks, lunches and tasty evening meals, a popular place with locals and holidaymakers is located offering something for everyone.
Pay and display single file car parking with a small area where double parking is possible. Total car parking spaces is not large and does fill up in peak season however there is an overspill car park just before you reach the esplanade.