The best beaches on the Isle of Wight

Beaches, Coastal, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed on 7th July 2020

Isle of Wight beaches

The Isle of Wight’s beaches are as diverse as the habitats found across this fantastic British holiday destination. So why not get to know the island via its beaches? There are long sandy town beaches such as Sandown and Shanklin, secluded secrets like Steephill Cove, remote surf spots like Compton, or beaches of historical and geological interest like Bonchurch and Ventnor.

So whether you’d like to sunbathe, go for a hike, play in the water or simply take a slow amble along a promenade, the Isle of Wight has got the beach for you. And being on a small island you’re never ever far from a sea view. Read on for our Isle of Wight beach guide, or browse our Isle of Wight cottages if you're already feeling inspired.

Isle of Wight cottages


shanklin and sandown

Shanklin and Sandown Beach

These two neighbouring beaches could well be the most popular beaches on the Isle of Wight. Sandown and Shanklin are located on the east coast of the island, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the English Channel and the Solent. Sandown is the most northerly of the two and it runs into Shanklin before cliffs intervene at the southern end.

Both towns had pleasure piers but today only Sandown’s remains after Shanklin’s was swept away in the ferocious storm of 1987. Sandown’s seafront is slightly more built up and shops and cafes line its esplanade. The town’s High Street runs parallel to the coast road towards the beaches northern end. As the cliffs begin to push out towards the esplanade you will begin to encounter a few places to hire deckchairs, beach huts and stretches of sand to walk your dog unrestricted.

Shanklin beach is at the foot of the town’s cliffs and it also has an esplanade and parking. There are a number of pubs and family cafes, as well as crazy golf and some other themed rides and amusements for kids. At the most southerly point is the curious Shanklin Chine - a landscaped garden that meanders up the cliff from sea-level making for a pretty stroll.

Dogs: Not allowed May – September.

Lifeguards: Yes, seasonal (check before you visit).

Local information: Public toilets, seaside cafes, beach shops, ticketed parking along the seafront and car parks.

Stay nearby: Seaview - Shanklin, Shanklin | Sleeps: 4

For more properties nearby, have a look at our collection of holiday cottages in and around Shanklin.

Shanklin cottages


Steephill Cove on the Isle of Wight

Steephill Cove

Steephill Cove is one of the Isle of Wight’s hidden treasures. Just over 1 mile west of Ventnor and inaccessible by road, this curious south-facing beach is a must-visit on your holiday.

With two restaurants and a kiosk situated along its small boardwalk, you can also find a spot below the rocky sea defences at low-tide for a few beach games and some well-deserved rest, encountered via one or two footpaths that wind down along the coast from the road above. A pleasant hideaway for all the family with good facilities. Be sure to check tide times before you go because there’s very little beach when the sea comes in.

Dogs: Yes – on leads only before 6pm.

Lifeguards: No

Local information: Access via steps or a slope. Restaurant and café, limited facilities by the beach. Good family beach.

Stay nearby: Western Lines Cottage, Ventnor | Sleeps: 8

For more properties, have a look at our cottages in and around Steephill Cove.

Steephill Cove cottages


ventnor

Ventnor Beach

An appealing walk back east from Steephill Cove is Ventnor, the Isle of Wight’s unspoilt Victorian-era sea resort. Standing in the lea of steep tree-covered cliffs, the town almost tumbles down the hill to join the brisk promenade.

A sandy arch-shaped beach impresses with its replica Victorian mobile beach huts-cum-bathing machines and scope for deckchair and small seacraft hire. Be sure to venture along the working pier to Ventnor Fish Haven for the best fresh fish and shellfish, or try something special from the take-away!

Dogs: Not allowed May – September.

Lifeguards: Yes, seasonal (check before you visit).

Local information: Public toilets, vintage beach huts to hire, Isle of Wight map paddling pool, ice creams, cafes, beach shops and pub. Town close by.

Stay nearby: Cliff View Apartment, Ventnor | Sleeps: 4

For more cottages nearby, have a look at our cottages in and around Ventnor.

Ventnor cottages


Compton Bay

Compton Bay

Compton Bay is for adventurers and sits on the south-west of the island. Reached via the wild Military Road, which is known as one of the best drives in Europe (try it at sunset), Compton Bay is about your best bet for catching some great waves if you’ve brought your surfboard.

Managed by the National Trust it’s also a good spot to head for if you’re looking for fossils. Along with other beaches, such as Whitecliff Bay, it’s one of the most interesting beaches for geology enthusiasts.

Dogs: Not allowed May – September.

Lifeguards: No

Local information: Few facilities, ice cream van, National Trust car park (with toilets), steep steps down to the beach. 

Stay nearby: Therles Cottage, Brook | Sleeps: 6

For more places to stay nearby, take a look at our cottages near Compton Bay.

 Compton Bay cottages


Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay is located near The Needles at the western end of the Isle of Wight. Surrounded by sheer white cliffs, its location is dramatic yet beautiful. Sheltered waters and exceptional views make Freshwater Bay a candidate for the prettiest beach on the island.

With good amenities close by you can assemble a picnic with ease or drink and dine at one of the nearby pubs. Other local beaches include Alum Bay, and Totland Bay. The impressive Tenyson Downs are also a short drive away for sweeping views across the island. Beach facilities are limited.

Dogs: Yes, but dogs are not allowed on a small section of the beach May - September

Lifeguards: No

Local information: Long-stay ticketed car park. Beach café, pubs and eateries. Sand and shingle beach with access ramps. Short walk to public toilets in the direction of Alum Bay.

Stay nearby: Freshwater Bay – Ocean View, Freshwater | Sleeps: 6

Take a look at more places to stay in and around Freshwater Bay.

Freshwater cottages


Great British Coast


ryde

Ryde Beach

Miles and miles of sandy beaches reach out so far that a pier had to be built at Ryde for boat passengers to reach the shore at lower stages of the tide. Take a stroll along the promenade from the hovercraft terminal, alongside the harbour with its array of attractions which include Peter Pan’s Playground and a bowling alley. Past the pleasant boating lake, the sands merge onto quieter Appley Beach, which has a picturesque beachfront promenade.

Around the pier area and along the seafront are a selection of cafes and eateries, and a wander into town offers up yet more restaurants and attractions, including the Isle of Wight Bus Museum. Take time to wander along Ryde Pier and you may well catch one of the hovercrafts coming or going.

Dogs: Yes, but dogs not allowed in some sections of the beach from May to September.

Lifeguards: Yes, seasonal (check before you visit).

Local information: Several car parks, public toilets, amusements, parks, promenade, many facilities.

Stay nearby: Carpenters Cottage St Helens, Ryde | Sleeps: 3 + 2 dogs

Take a look at more places to stay in and around Ryde.

Ryde cottages


Colwell Bay

Colwell Bay

Some would say that Colwell Bay is one of the nicest beaches on the Isle of Wight. Offering beautiful views out over the Solent, it is small with a gentle slope, making it a popular spot for swimmers. There are deck chairs for hire, a seaside café and beach hut shops selling everything you could need for the perfect family beach day.

If the weather’s not warm enough for sitting on the beach, it’s most enjoyable to take a walk along the long promenade on the sea wall which runs all the way to Totland Bay, offering some wonderful coastal views and back toward the mainland.

Dogs: Not allowed May – September

Lifeguards: No

Local information: Car park, access to beach via slipway. Toilets, beach shop, café and restaurant.

Stay nearby: Romany Cottage, Totland Bay | Sleeps: 6

Visit our selection of cottages near Colwell Bay.

Colwell Bay cottages


Osborne BeachImage credit: Instagram @london_inn

Osborne Beach

As hidden beaches on the Isle of Wight go, what could be more enticing than one which was a royal firm favourite! At Osborne Beach you can still admire Queen Victoria’s restored bathing machine sitting by the beach and see where she used to sit, sketch and write her letters.

As a modern-day visitor, you can hire a deckchair and enjoy a traditional beach day, which may even include a Punch and Judy show in the summer. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be treated to numerous nature sightings, including sea birds, herons and even the elusive red squirrel. Head off to Osborne House before or after your beach visit to delve into Queen Victoria’s life.

Dogs: No

Lifeguards: No

Local information: English Heritage entrance fee applies (from £9.10 for a child 5-17). Ice cream parlour and cafe shuttle bus to the beach from front of Osborne House (April – October and selected winter weekends). Beach toilets in café. Free parking at Osborne House.

Stay nearby: Mast View, East Cowes | sleeps 4

To find more cottages near Osborne Beach, take a look at our collection in Cowes.

Cowes cottages


alum bay

Alum Bay Beach

Alum Bay is one of the best beaches on the Isle of Wight: a shingle beach, backed by multi-coloured sand cliffs and with the picturesque Needles to the west end. The clear waters make it a good choice for swimming and paddling, boats pootle around the bay during the day and fishing boats bob peacefully at dusk. Known for being the Isle of Wight coloured sand beach, it’s here you’ll find the rainbow sands which you can pour into glass vessels in the amusement park shop and make into a souvenir to take home!

The Needles Park is an added attraction for the beach, with plenty to keep the whole family entertained, from cafes and shops, to the famous chair lift and even a sweet factory! If you don’t fancy braving the chairlift, the beach can be accessed via steps.

Dogs: Yes – all year round. Leads may be required, check before visiting.

Lifeguards: No

Local information: Cafes, shops and attractions at The Needles Park at the top of the cliffs, accessed via steps or chairlift. Park at The Needles Car Park.

Stay nearby: Tennyson Wing Cottage, Alum Bay | Sleeps: 4 + 2 dog

For more places to stay near Alum Bay.

Alum Bay cottages


Yaverland

Yaverland

If you’re looking for sandy beaches on the Isle of Wight, Yaverland is the place to go. It is a long stretch of sand and is a lovely spot for a swim or family beach day. You can walk all the way along the beach from the Yaverland Sailing and Yacht club to the base of the chalk cliffs of Culver Down. Towards the end, you may be lucky enough to find a fossil, and you can enhance your chances by booking a guided fossil walk at Dinosaur Isle.

Yaverland is one of the best beaches on the Isle of Wight for water sports, including sailing, kite surfing and windsurfing.

Dogs: Yes, on the section between the sailing club and Culver Down head. Dogs not allowed on the rest of the beach, May – September.

Lifeguards: No, but swimming areas are sectioned off from water sports areas.

Local information: Little beach at high tide. Public toilets (powered by solar cells and wind turbines), beach shop and café. Car park adjacent to the beach which is accessed via a slipway next to the sailing club.

Stay nearby: Stanwell Barn Cottage, Bembridge | Sleeps: 8 + 2 dogs

Take a look at more cottages in the Yaverland area.

Sandown cottages


Map of Isle of Wight beaches

Find the closest beach to where you're staying with a map of all the beaches we previously mentioned below.


Further inspiration

Get more ideas for your next island getaway with our expert guides to the area.


Stay with us on the Isle of Wight

There are so many other beaches to discover, including Bembridge, Bonchurch, Ryde, Colwell Bay, and Gurnard Beach, all just waiting to be explored. An Isle of Wight holiday is the perfect way to fall in love with these beaches and find them all at your own pace.

Take a look at our Isle of Wight holiday cottages across the island, where you'll find some great place to stay by the sea perfect for your island beach holiday.

Isle of Wight cottages



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.