10 of the best coastal walks on the Isle of Wight

Coastal, Walking, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate W on 11th September 2020

If you’re planning a day of rambling or a morning stroll along one of the many beautiful Isle of Wight coastal walks, we’ve got you covered with a few of our favourite options below.

Views of the Solent, mainland Britain and even the coastline of France can be glimpsed as you roam these island trails. Sandy beaches, warm and welcoming pubs, and ancient geological features await, so pull on your hiking boots and uncover the secrets of this unique holiday destination on your next Isle of Wight break.

Begin reading through our coastal walks on the Isle of Wight to find your ideal walking route, or click the button to explore our full collection of Isle of Wight cottages.

Isle of Wight coastal cottages

Cowes to Yarmouth Walk

Stretching between two of the Isle of Wight’s beautiful settlements, the yacht haven and seaport town of Cowes all the way along the coast to the bustling port town of Yarmouth, this route is a great way to get to know the north coast of the island. The Cowes to Yarmouth Walk is possibly one of the best coastal walks on the Isle of Wight. Admire views across the Solent to Hampshire and the New Forest on the mainland. Pass through villages with tearooms, woodlands offering shade on hot days and shelter on windy ones, and clifftops where you can take in your stunning surroundings. There’s a host of places to dine out in Yarmouth so, when you reach your journey’s end, why not stop by seafront pub The King’s Head or The Bugle Coaching Inn for a hearty lunch?

Distance: 16 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Facilities: There are waterfront restaurants, shops and toilets in both towns and even a host of attractions such as Cowes’ Boat Museum and Yarmouth’s Fort Victoria Country Park complete with Reptilarium.

Good to know: As you pass through the hamlet of Newton, it’s worth noting the beautiful medieval buildings.

Stay nearby: Mast View | Sleeps 4

Mottistone Meander

Beginning at the scenic Mottistone Gardens, it would be easy to spend your day exploring the shrubs and flowers of this pretty attraction, but when you’re ready to strike out along this circular walking route in the Isle of Wight, you’ll be able to take in exquisite sea views and wonderful wildlife over by the coastal cliffs at Sudmoor Point on this Mottistone Meander trail. You’ll climb a stile, pass a wildlife pond, and walk through a woodland on your way to joining the coastal path, before passing over the mighty chalk cliffs and returning via a kissing gate, a farm track and a quaint old church.

Distance: 2.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy! However, a stile and kissing gate means it’s not a good choice for those with limited mobility.

Facilities: A shop, gardens, tearoom and toilets can all be found on-site at Mottistone Manor so pop in for a cuppa after you’ve finished your wander.

Good to know: The bright little bird, the yellowhammer, is often sighted on the estate and is difficult to miss with its vibrant plumage so keep an eye out for it.

Stay nearby: Stable Cottage - Brighstone, Brighstone | sleeps 2

Great British Coast

Sandown to Ryde Coastal Walk

The seaside resort of Sandown is always a popular spot for families with a golden sandy beach that you can enjoy before setting off down the Isle of Wight coastal path on this Sandown to Ryde Coastal Walk. It will take you up and over Bembridge Down with marvellous views all around to soak up, before you dip back down into charming Bembridge village and on to the pretty village of Seaview. You’ll finally find yourself at Ryde Pier, a beautiful 19th-century structure that lays claim to being the second-longest pier in the country.

Distance: 12.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Facilities: Places to eat, shops, golf clubs and the Isle of Wight Zoo can all be found in Sandown, while Ryde has more eateries, shops and attractions, plus a train for getting around the island.

Good to know: For a shorter route, simply follow the 6-mile Ryde to Bembridge coastal walk, instead of hiking all the way from Sandown to Ryde. Bembridge is a wonderful spot where you can head to the beach or dine beside the harbour once your Isle of Wight walk is accomplished.

Stay nearby: Apple Tree Lodge, Shanklin | sleeps 4

Yarmouth to Brighstone Walk

A mix of impressive coastal views and tranquil rolling farmland greets you as you make your way long this lengthy Yarmouth to Brighstone Walk to the west of the Isle of Wight. This section of the Isle of Wight coastal path will take you to this island’s best known and loved landmark, the Needles chalk stacks, which tower out of the sea and create a fantastic view. Begin in Yarmouth and head west toward the Needles before following the coast back south-east until you reach the peaceful chocolate-box village of Brighstone.

Distance: 14 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Facilities: Yarmouth is a bustling hub on the island with shops, pubs, toilets and attractions, while Brighstone is far quieter with fewer facilities, although there is a quaint pub called Three Bishops where you might like to grab a bite to eat after your walk.

Good to know: Look out for the striped cliffs of Alum Bay, which are not as well-known as the Needles yet but are perhaps just as remarkable.

Stay nearby: Bayside Cottage - Colwell Bay, Colwell Bay | sleeps 4

Headon Warren Walk

This is another walking route that will take you to the renowned Needles Landmark Attraction, but the Headon Warren Walk is less than half of the length of the Yarmouth to Brighstone Walk, making it far more family friendly! Arguably the best Isle of Wight coastal walk, you can take in views of the mainland, a Bronze Age burial mound, and the picturesque Alum Bay on this trail. You’ll begin with a stroll along the seafront of Totland Bay, past an Old Lifeboat Station, and on towards the famed chalk stacks. It’s a circular walking route so you’ll end up back on Headon Warren once you come to the end.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate – there are hills and a stile along the way.

Facilities: Headon Warren is relatively quiet with the nearest cafes over at The Needles Landmark Attraction, while more shops and pubs can be found in nearby Yarmouth and Freshwater.

Good to know: This walk can be shortened to 3 miles by missing out Alum Bay - after all, the real reason anyone follows this Isle of Wight coastal path is the see the famed chalk stacks, right?

Stay nearby: The Wendy House - Freshwater, Freshwater | sleeps 2 and 2 dogs

Sandown to Ventnor Walk

Another great way to soak up seaside vibes is with this Isle of Wight coastal walk - the Sandown to Ventnor Walk - that takes you between two popular resorts, each with their own sandy beach you can enjoy. There is a promenade that runs between the two villages, but this route takes you a different route, over the top of the cliffs providing fantastic views all the way. You’ll descend down to cross beautiful Shanklin Chine before heading along the top of more towering cliffs until you reach the sands of Ventnor.

Distance: 5.7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate – due to the clifftop trail, there are steep slopes to contend with.

Facilities: The two seaside resorts of Sandown and Ventnor ensure visitors are well cared for with eateries, shops, attractions, and each is home to their own fantastic beach.

Good to know: Ventnor is quite possibly the best place to stay on the Isle of Wight if you love serene strolls with Ventnor Botanic Gardens, Devil's Chimney, Ventnor Park and a couple of beautiful beaches to traverse during your holiday.

Stay nearby: Vestry Cottage, St Lawrence | sleeps 3 and 2 dogs

Chale to Freshwater

Beginning at St Andrew's Church in Chale, this Isle of Wight coastal walk from Chale to Freshwater takes you past a pub, alongside a stream and over cliffs with fantastic coastal views. You’ll eventually reach Whale Chine, a ravine cut into the sandstone cliffs with a pretty, secluded beach beyond, before continuing on until you reach a trig pillar at the top of Barnes High, then descending back down to Marsh Chine. More landmarks on your way back include the Isle of Wight Pearl, an old lifeboat hut, and Compton Chine – this walk is full of interest with plenty of sights to mark your route.

Distance: 11.7 miles

Difficulty: Easy/moderate with some inclines up the cliffs.

Facilities: There are few facilities in Chale apart from the pub, although it is home to the popular family-friendly attraction of Blackgang Chine which is well worth a visit during your holiday. Over in Freshwater, you have more choice, with restaurants, pubs and cafes for dining, and shops where you can pick up amenities too. Freshwater is also home to a beautiful sandy beach, great for cooling your toes at the end of the trail.

Good to know: Erosion is a problem along this route so be mindful and avoid places where the cliffs appear to be crumbling.

Stay nearby: Little Granville Cottage, Whitwell | sleeps 2

St Catherine’s Point Walk

A stunning Isle of Wight coastal walk, way down on the southernmost point of the island, St Catherine’s Point Walk is about as remote as you can get during your holiday here. Starting at Old Blackgang Road, you’ll head downhill until you hit the sea with miles of wonderful views to soak up. Follow the crumbling coast, watching out for dangerous sections as this remarkable landscape is constantly being eroded, before a return trip uphill and inland leads you back to Niton village. On your return journey, you will pass The Buddle Inn so you might like to pop in for a light lunch before completing your Isle of Wight walk.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate – there are kissing gates and ladder stiles along the way.

Facilities: Being set close to Chale, it shares the same lack of facilities, although The Buddle Inn in Niton Undercliff is a welcome respite for weary travellers.  

Good to know: If that walk wasn’t enough, you could follow the 5-mile Niton Waterfall Walk to a delightful little waterfall inland; try to visit after heavy rain to get the best of the falls.

Stay nearby: Brook Lodge, Whitwell | sleeps 2

The National Trust ABC of the Downs Walk

You’ll begin by following part of The Tennyson Trail, a separate 14-mile Isle of Wight walk you may like to conquer another time, over the ridges of the exquisite downs, providing tranquil panoramas to enjoy as you traverse The National Trust ABC of the Downs Walk. After 2.5 miles, turn off through a gate and continue towards Five Barrows and trig point, the highest point along this route and a perfect place for a picnic and a few photos to capture those holiday memories. Along the way, you’ll walk through Brook village, Brook Chine, and Shippards Chine before ending back at the Freshwater Cliffs car park where this charming walking route starts and ends.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Facilities: The enchanting Freshwater Bay is home to a café, pub, museum and a picturesque beach great for water sports and sailing.

Good to know: The headland by Shippards Chine is the area where you’re most likely to see dinosaur footcasts so keep a look out as you walk along this stretch of Isle of Wight coast.

Stay nearby: Moonfleet Cottage - Freshwater, Freshwater | sleeps 2 and 1 dog

Ryde to Cowes Coast Path Walk

Linking two ancient towns in the north of the island, this route from Ryde to Cowes Coast Path Walk is a perfect day out with attractions in both coastal settlements. Ryde’s magnificent pier is the start point for this coast walk on the Isle of Wight, before you make your way west through the town, past Ryde golf club and Binstead Church, then on towards impressive Quarr Abbey. The natural scenery along this trail includes woodland and a bridge over a stream, beside the fantastic sights of the Solent and mainland Britain. Wootton Bridge is home to The Sloop Inn, a perfect mid-way stopping point along this trail, otherwise, once you’ve finally used the Floating Bridge to cross into Cowes, there’s a wealth of restaurants and pubs where you can dine and relax.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Facilities: Both towns are brimming with places to eat and shop, and there are even attractions and boat trips to enjoy during your day out.

Good to know: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s holiday home, Osborne House, sits in Cowes just before the end of your travels and is a stunning place to visit during your break to the Isle of Wight, with gardens to explore and ground-floor state rooms to admire inside the property.

Stay nearby: Carpenters Cottage, St Helens | sleeps 3 and 2 dogs

Map of coastal walks on the Isle of Wight

Keep exploring

Escape to this beautiful island and find more places to go and things to do while here in our selection of guides. From sandy beaches to wonderful walks, you're sure to have an unforgettable retreat! 

Stay with us on the Isle of Wight

After discovering a few of the very best coastal walks on the Isle of Wight, you’ll no doubt be ready to pack up, hop in the car and get outside in this spectacular island paradise.

If you’re keen to start planning, explore our collection of Isle of Wight coastal cottages and you’ll soon be strolling across sandy beaches, hiking clifftops and admiring the magnificent Needles landmark while getting to know the Isle of Wight coastal path.

Isle of Wight coastal 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.