Here’s our list of the 13 reasons why you should head to the Isle of Wight on your next holiday.
These three head-turning spikes of chalk are around 30 metres high and pierce the Isle of Wight’s seascape just next to Alum Bay. Perched shyly behind the third of these jagged mounds is the red- and white-striped Needles Lighthouse, too. There was once a fourth shard, known as Lot’s Wife, which fell into the sea in 1764 and had the sharp, column-like appearance of a needle, which is where the remaining three shapes got their charming name. Take a boat trip for a closer look at these unique, natural works of art.
Perfect for long, windswept dog walks or even a horseback ride, the beaches on the Isle of Wight are many and beautiful. From the sweeping curve of Whitecliff Bay to the pleasant Englishness of Sundown Pier and the tumbledown charm of Steephill Cove, there is fresh air and crashing waves galore on this pretty island.
Whether it’s smooth jazz, club classics, live poetry or yoga workshops that float your ferry, you can catch one across from the mainland to one of this island’s renowned music and arts festivals. There’s the legendary Bestival or the sparkling Isle of Wight Festival, as well as the quirky Eklectika which showcases electronic, dance and pop acts big and small.
This peculiar hexagonal tower, otherwise known as St Catherine’s Oratory, could be straight out of a fairy tale. It is the remains of England’s only surviving medieval lighthouse, dating back to 1314. The story goes that wealthy landowner Walter de Godeton came into possession of some stolen wine (174 casks, to be exact) which had been on its way to France in a ship that ran aground. The Catholic Church was unimpressed, so as penance, Walter built a lighthouse where a priest would pray for sailors wrecked on the treacherous rocks below.
There’s plenty of action to enjoy on the Isle of Wight, from cycling to horseback riding. But if speed is your thing, then Wight Karting makes a brilliant day out. With racing for groups and families, there’s a full range of packages to choose from. The all-weather track is 500 metres long and is open all year long.
One of this island’s biggest appeals is, of course, its coastline. And while sandy and shingle beaches make for a glorious walk come rain or shine, the Isle of Wights cliffs offer jaw-dropping views not to be missed. Take a walk across Bembridge and Culver Downs (the second of these chalk cliffs takes its name from the old English word for ‘dove’.) A gulp of sea air and marvellous views make this an unforgettable stroll.
What could be more British than the sight of a cosy cottage with a pretty thatched roof? Wander round almost any corner of the Isle of Wight, and you’ll find postcard-perfect homes with colourful gardens just waiting to bring your Instagram feed some old-fashioned charm.
According to legend, St Catherine once competed with the Devil to see who should be in charge of the Isle of Wight. The Longstone at Mottistone is said to be a sandstone pillar, which St Catherine threw down in the contest. It’s four metres tall and two metres wide, suggesting Catherine was not only a saint, but had some serious upper body strength, too. The stone is, in truth, an ancient burial mound and can be incorporated into a scenic country walk.
Though Brighton on England’s south coast is supposed to be the country’s LGBTQ capital, the UK’s sparkling gay scene by no means ends there. The Isle of Wight is also home to vibrant pride celebrations and in 2018, it will be the official host of UK pride. Think rainbow balloons, sparkling costumes and every note Cher ever recorded. Pure joy.
Heading to the Isle of Wight? Be sure to stroke a llama. These cuddly pals can be found at West Wight Alpacas along with goats, chickens and the adorable knitwear shop The Yarn Barn. Go for a walk or a trek if you’re feeling adventurous with these gentle beauties. There’s also a café with a tasty menu of snacks to choose from.
From surfing to kayaking, swimming to windsurfing, there is something for every mermaid (and merman) over on the Isle of Wight. Try Wight Waters for paddle boarding and sailing, too. There really is nothing like a bracing splash in the chilly channel to blow away those pesky cobwebs.
Aside from its fabulous festivals, the Isle of Wight also boasts a cracking live music scene the rest of the year round. There is the much-loved Shanklin Theatre, which hosts orchestra recitals and toe-tapping musicals in equal measure. Head into any pub on this lovely island and you’ll not wait long to hear of an open mic event or mini gig from local musicians.
After all the action (and alpacas), you’ll be relieved to find there’s more than enough yummy fare to enjoy on the Isle of Wight. There’s a hearty array of eateries dotted across this verdant island to please the snobbiest foodie and fussiest five-year-old in one go. Try The Three Buoys for some classic dishes, served with a chic modern touch, or look out for the Royal Isle of Wight Society’s Wight Marque logo so you know your produce is locally made.