Island Adventures – the Isle of Wight

As soon as you board the ferry or hovercraft to the Isle of Wight you know you’re in for a fantastic holiday. It’s only a short distance across the Solent from Portsmouth, but once you’ve arrived mainland Britain will seem like a distant memory.

This is a perfect destination if you like stunning coastlines and island adventures. At night the view from the north coast of the island back to the mainland is particularly striking.

Portsmouth city skyline including the Spinnaker Tower from the beach at Ryde
Portsmouth city skyline including the Spinnaker Tower from the beach at Ryde

This is one of the sunniest parts of the UK and is well known for its golden beaches, beach huts, long seafront promenades at Shanklin and Ventnor, plus lighthouses, a castle, steam railway and Osborne House (once a royal residence). Shanklin has the best sunshine record on the island and Ventnor, protected by the surrounding hills, has its own micro-climate, so both are perfect places for a holiday home.

The Isle of Wight is one of the best place in Europe to find dinosaur fossil remains, mainly Yaverland Beach near Sandown and the south west coast of the island. Yaverland is the smallest area whereas the stretch between Artherfield to Compton is 6 miles long.

The fossils can be found in rock dating back over 120 million years and collected since the 1850s. With over 20 different dinosaur types uncovered, the fossil walks can be exciting days out. You can also find crocodiles, turtles and many more, for your very own Jurassic Park experience!

dino skeletons
Hand drawn silhouettes of various dinosaur skeletons – so keep an eye out!

Throughout the year the island hosts Bear Hunt Adventure Weekends, inspired by the bestselling children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. There are outdoor activities including a special trail with a chance to meet the Bear and claim your free badge. Pick up a free adventure guide from Easter onwards at the information centre in Newport.

If you’re really mad on animals there’s the Monkey Haven at Newport or the Zoo at Sandown. There are also estuaries, salt marshes, sand dunes, tidal flats, salt water lagoons, maritime cliffs and slopes, sea caves, rocky shores and reefs to explore plus plenty of opportunities to take part in wildlife walks and events on the island, so you can be sure of a nature extravaganza!

For keen walkers there is the Isle of Wight walking festival in April/May. More extreme walkers and runners can take on the Isle of Wight challenge which is now on the Ultra Series calendar, so not for the faint-hearted! The coastal path – 70 miles long, following footpaths and minor lanes with short sections along quiet roads – is possibly the best, and definitely a slower paced, way to explore the island.

One of the nation’s favourite walks, Freshwater to the Needles shouldn’t be missed. It normally takes just over an hour over open downland and along sheer chalk cliffs with some stunning sea views. Look out for small birds hiding amongst the gorse bushes, thousands of wild flowers and cliff nesting birds soaring effortlessly in the strong updrafts.

Isle of Wight
Access to the coastal path at Freshwater Bay with limestone cliffs

The Isle of Wight is a real haven for keen yachtsmen and women and hosts the oldest sailing regatta in the world at the beginning of August. Cowes Week still retains the glamour of the early days and is a great family event with a real feel-good atmosphere – make sure you watch the famous firework display on Friday.

There are lots of marinas, the largest on the north coast, with a great choice of moorings and facilities. If you’re not the ‘yachty’ type there’s a great choice of pleasure cruises and fishing charters to take you offshore. Enjoy the stunning seascapes and fresh sea air, and look out for transiting whales, playful dolphins and porpoise.

Yachts run downwind from Cowes towards Hurst Castle Spit

There are some great adventure activity centres on the island to take part in coasteering, sea kayaking, rock climbing, horse riding and much more. For those who like a quiet couple of hours and want to practice their swing the islands golf courses at Ventor, Westridge and Newport offer a very scenic respite and welcome visitors.

For a great view you could try a tree climbing experience at Goodleaf, the original tree climbing company. Perfect for ages 8 – 80, this is brilliant fun for all the family and offers panoramic vistas over the Solent and beyond. Attached safely to a rope you can scale the heights of a 70 foot oak tree and once in the canopy relax in a hammock or carry on exploring and climbing. Once back on terra firma you can enjoy a picnic in the gorgeous park grounds.

tree climbing
Tree climbing a unique and off beat adventure for all to enjoy

The Isle of Wight is thought to be the most haunted in the world, with thousands of ghosts, spirits, poltergeists and apparitions in residence! Amateur ghost-hunters from all over the globe come every year to investigate haunted locations and supernatural activity attributed to unseen energy or ‘ley’ lines running under the island.

Paranormal fanatics can check out places like Carisbroke Castle, Arreton Manor, Whitecroft Hospital or Ventnor Botanic Gardens, all with their own dark story to tell.

On a lighter note the Isle of Wight is often referred to as the Garden Isle and is home to many rare plants and animals (so it can’t be that scary!).

Headon Warren
Headon Warren, Totland, Isle of Wight at Sundown, looking out over The Needles

The island boasts lots of foodie destinations and is famous for its home grown produce, due to its temperate climate and sunshine. Some of the highlights are the Isle of Wight Cheese Company and The Tomato Stall’s gourmet produce. Seasonal delights such as asparagus, cherries and strawberries are served at many of gastro restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Find holiday homes on the Isle of Wight and book your island adventure today.

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