With just a 55-minute ferry crossing over the Solent from the mainland, the Isle of Wight is flocked to by visitors every year, and it’s easy to see why. The island is relatively small, and you can access it by foot ferry, hovercraft or car ferry. There is so much to see and do, it’s no surprise to us that it was Queen Victoria’s favourite island.
What to do
Carisbrooke Castle is an English Heritage site that has been around since the 7th century, so it’s pretty impressive and certainly worth a look around. Another English Heritage site we like is Osborne House, often described as Queen Victoria’s palace by the sea. The rooms inside the house are impressive, while the grounds and private beach are beautiful. Make sure to treat yourself to an ice cream at the beach café.
The Needles at Alum Bay are on the west of the island and one of its most recognised sights. The distinctive chalk rocks are set in the deep turquoise sea, and they get their name from a fourth needle-shaped rock. You can take a boat ride from Alum Bay to get the best view, and the chairlift at Alum Bay is always fun.
Blackgang Chine is the UK’s oldest theme park, and the kids love it. There is lots to do and explore here, and the Underwater Kingdom and dinosaurs are still favourites. Parents will love the views as the park sits on the cliffs edge.
The pretty coastal village of Shanklin is also worth a visit, to see its charming, thatched cottages and little tearooms, while the town of Cowes is great for people-watching. We recommend having a trip on the 25-minute Solent Cruise with full commentary around the Cowes harbour.
There are miles of unspoilt natural coastline on the Isle of Wight, and relaxing on the beach is one of our favourite things to do here. Shanklin is one of the most popular beaches, and it’s easy to see why with its miles of sand. It has a real traditional seaside holiday feel, thanks to its amusements arcades, crazy golf, seaside cafés and the tastiest ice cream!
Sandown is another must-visit beach, although it does tend to get a little busier than Shanklin. Ventnor is probably the more popular beach, as there are lots of trendy restaurants and cafés surrounding it. It’s also home to the very popular Spyglass Inn – it’s definitely worth booking in for the fantastic views and food. Ventnor also hosts the Isle Of Wight’s Fringe arts festival, which takes place most summers, featuring big names and local artists.
If you’re after a sunset, then the sandy Ryde beach is your best bet, while Steephill Cove is usually quieter, making it a great place to spend the day during the busier summer months.
Food, glorious food
There is excellent food on the island, and you will be spoilt for choice if you like seafood. The Seaview Hotel is set in the beautiful Seaview area with amazing views and crystal-clear sea, and the hotel offers fantastic dishes to suit all budgets.
We also enjoyed a trip to the Isle of Wight Distillery. It’s the only distillery on the island and is home to the smooth-tasting Mermaid Gin. We suggest ordering one of their pizzas and washing it down with one of the fabulous cocktails. Don’t leave without trying their tasting board, featuring the famous Mermaid Gin, Pink Gin, HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin and Rum, and Mermaid Salt Vodka.
The Garlic Farm is another popular attraction – you can take a walk around the farm or book a table at the café or restaurant, which serves delicious, garlicky food. There’s also a great gift shop that sells garlic vodka and garlic beer – don’t knock it’til you’ve tried it, we say!
Where to stayThe Isle of WIGHT!
The Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is part of the Away Resorts group and probably the nicest holiday park you’ll ever comes across! It’s situated right on the Whitecliff Bay in the Bembridge area with the most incredible beach behind the park. This vast, idyllic, sandy shore never gets very busy, although this may be since it is down a very steep slope. It’s worth it once you reach the bottom and see the incredible sea though.
There is accommodation to suit every budget, from static caravans to glamping set-ups, or you can take your own tent. We were lucky to stay in one of the TriBeCa lodges, which has a Manhattan loft-style look and comes complete with its own hot tub! The lodge was very modern and spacious, with two bedrooms and bathrooms. The design of kids’ bedroom was spacious, with three separate bunk bed-style beds and a seating area. Each bunk bed even has its own TV.
There is so much to do at The Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park – there’s an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as a lovely sun terrace. There is also soft play, crazy golf and tennis – all of which are included in the price. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Nab Bar and Restaurant, and there was fun and lively entertainment every night at the Culver Club, which the kids loved.
Need to know
• Red Funnel ferries offer a great service at various times every day of the week. The ferry leaves from Southampton and arrives in East Cowes 55 minutes later. The service is fast and very organised, and the ferries offer hot food and drinks on board. Prices start from £12 for a foot passenger. To book, visit Redfunnel.co.uk
• Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park offers two nights in a TriBeCa lodge sleeping up to six from £386 during October. To book, visit Awayresorts.co.uk
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