Most holidaymakers to the Isle of Wight have some of our famous beaches at the top of their ‘to-do’ list. With more than 60 miles of beaches, there’s plenty of choice; and here’s our guide to the Island’s best beaches. Isle of Wight beaches are regularly inspected and well-maintained to ensure they are clean and safe for visitors all year round. Our map shows where the beaches are located and it is followed by descriptions of the beaches in alphabetical order:
Isle of Wight Beach Guide
Bembridge hosts several quiet beaches of pebble, rock and sand. They overlook the Solent and the busy shipping lane. The children will love these beaches, they can go crabbing, cockling and explore the natural surroundings. These beaches are usually quieter than the main resorts. Bembridge is also home to one of the Island’s RNLI stations, making regular rescues and training exercises. You will find most beaches have a carpark and cafe nearby, and the beach directly by the Duver also has toilet facilities.
Swimming is not safe in Bembridge Harbour. Dogs are welcome all year round.
This attractive, mostly sandy beach is a popular spot with surfers and fossil hunters alike. The beach stretches for over a mile. Below the cliffs near Hanover Point is a prehistoric fossilised forest that can be see at low tide. Take care when swimming at Brook as some parts are quite rocky.
Car parking is available at Brook but there are no other facilities. Dogs are welcome all year round. Image courtesy Visit Isle of Wight.
This small and sandy beach is tucked away on the quieter west coast of the Island with panoramic views of the Solent and Hurst Castle. The area has several cafes and the gentle sloping beach and clear waters are a favourite for families. Toilet facilities are close by and boats can be hired. This is a beautiful location and provides easy access for the elderly and disabled. A short walk along the promenade will link you with Totland Bay where water sports are a popular recreational activity. Water safety zoning is in place here to ensure that bathers and recreational users are separated appropriately.
Emergency equipment including life jackets are placed along the Esplanade and the Inshore Rescue service is also on call at any time – which can be reached by the Coastguard. During the summer season, Colwell beach is litter-picked on a daily basis and large amounts of seaweed are removed and offered to local farmers for use.
Winner of the Quality Coast Award
Winner of Water Quality Award
Compton Bay is a sandy beach located beside the coastal road between Freshwater Bay and Brook. This area is a favourite for surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers due to its often experiencing high winds and waves. The area has toilet facilities and whilst there is no cafe, a refreshment van can be found there throughout the summer and during the winter months at weekends. This area is popular with fossil hunters and at low tide dinosaur foot prints can be seen imprinted in the rocks.
Be aware of strong tides when swimming.
Read our article about a visit to Compton beach in January and you might be surprised and delighted at what you see. The image below was taken in mid-winter!
Cowes & Gurnard
Gurnard is a small pleasant resort to the west of Cowes, where there are toilet facilities, an excellent cafe and the Woodvale Inn. It is a particularly good location to watch the liners and large ships entering Southampton Water. In addition, there is a popular sailing club which regularly meets and races. Whilst the beach is predominantly pebbles, it is an excellent vantage point with very good views.
Access to the sea wall, a level walk between Cowes and Gurnard is extremely good for the disabled and elderly. Between Cowes and Gurnard, there are several cafes, restaurants and toilet facilities. It should be noticed that the water is not considered particularly safe for bathing unless you are a strong swimmer, because of the strong tides and currents within the Solent.
Be aware of strong tides and currents when swimming.
Winners of Quality Coast Awards.
Easily accessible by car, foot and public transport links, East Cowes beach is popular with both residents and visitors alike. The traditional promenade involves a childrens’ play area, cafe, woodland walks and great views of Cowes on the opposite side of the Medina River. The seafront is a short two minute walk from shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants in the town of East Cowes. Safety equipment such as life jackets are placed along the Esplanade. Toliet facitlies are located nearby.
Winner of Quality Coast Award
Freshwater Bay is a small, pebble bay with the back drop of the tall cliffs at either end. Another popular beach for the family, this area is located at the western tip of the Island and adjacent to the bus route and car park. There are toilet facilities, cafes and Freshwater Bay Golf Course is close by.
Ryde beach is situated to the north of the Ryde town centre and is accessible by either foot, car or public transport. The six miles of beautiful golden sands extend from Seaview all the way round to Ryde Pier. A level walk runs between Ryde and Puckpool which passes cafes, gardens, childrens’ play areas, beach huts and Appley Tower. There is a boating lake if the midday sun gets too much. Cafes and toilet facilities can be found at many intervals along this stretch of the Island.
The beaches are all sandy and extend far out to sea at low tide. However, care should be taken with members of the family as the tide can come in very quickly. Lifeguards are based on Ryde beach throughout the summer months and safety equipment such as life jackets are located along the Esplanade.
Be aware of fast moving tides.
Sandown is the best place to have fun beside the sea safely with gently sloping beaches. The beach is sandy and there are good toilet facilities available. The Esplanade is packed full of cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels and gift shops. The area is particularly popular with families as there is so much to keep the children occupied.
Stretching the length from Shanklin through to Yaverland, the beaches are some of the most popular on the Island. Sandown Pier is open all year round with amusements, a cafe, pub and fishing facilities. There is Brown’s Golf Course, a skate park, Sandown Lawn Bowls Club, Crazy Golf and an excellent children’s play area.
During the summer, Sandown beach is machine cleaned and litter-picked on a daily basis. A large amount of seaweed is removed and offered to local farmers as compost.
See our feature guide to visiting Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight here.
Winner of the prestigious Blue Flag
Held Water Quality Award since 1996
This beach will remind you of holidays from days gone by. Located between Seaview and St Helens with a view over the eastern Solent, the beach is gently sloping and has clear waters. There is a nearby cafe and toilet facilities and rocks for the children to explore. Parking facilities at Seagrove are not good and access will have to be from Seaview Village on foot. However, once there, you will have a very enjoyable day and this area is a good place to spot the occasional celebrity, attracted to the quiet beach and exclusive properties and hotels. The water at Seagrove beach is very calm and therefore safe for swimming.
Shanklin Beach forms part of Sandown Bay with its famous golden sands and safe bathing areas. The water is clear and the beaches gently sloping. Like Sandown, there are facilities for refreshments, a pitch and putt and amusement arcade. Cafes, restaurants and pubs span the Esplanade and the southeast side of the Island is recorded to receive the highest levels of sunshine throughout the year.
The beach is a popular site for water sports of all kinds and water safety zoning is in place to ensure bathers and recreational users are kept separate where necessary.
Springvale beach is easily accessed whether by foot or car with public transport available nearby. It has a long sandy and peddle beach providing safe swimming for visitors, the area is peaceful which makes this an ideal family beach.
St Helens beach can be accessed either by foot or by car. There are particularly good cafe and restaurant facilities and the children will love the chance to explore the rock pools during low tide. Like Bembridge and Ryde beaches, St Helens looks out across the Solent and the shipping lanes and there is something to keep the whole family occupied. Wildlife abounds in the area and the view of Bembridge Harbour is stunning. During the summer season, St Helens beach is litter-picked on a daily basis.
Tucked away between the Undercliff and Ventnor is Steephill Cove, a delightful little cove where you can still see traditional fishermen at work, as well as enjoying the fruits of their labour with a fresh crab sandwich from one of the beach cafes. Mark Wheeler still fishes from the Cove and with his brother Jimmy Wheeler, launch every day to haul their pots for mouth-watering lobster and crab.
There’s just a handful of buildings sat right on the water’s edge and the cove can only be accessed on foot, so there are no noisy cars to contend with. The easiest places to start your walk to Steephill Cove are from the Botanic Garden or Ventnor’s La Falaise car parks. Be prepared for quite a few steps from either direction, but you will be rewarded by a tranquil and charming sight as you arrive.
People return to visit Steephill Cove year after year for good reason, rock pooling at low tide and a sun trap when ever the sun is shining, it really is an idyllic spot.
Dogs are welcome all year round.
Totland Bay is situated on the west side of the Island and families can enjoy the delightful beach. A popular destination for large cruisers and yachts, there is always something to look at and do. Totland has a pier and there is a cafe, pub and restaurants nearby. This beach is never particularly crowded and is pebbly at the high water mark, with golden sand towards the sea. Toilet facilities are also on hand.
Winner of Quality Coast Award
Ventnor beach is predominantly a sandy beach and a great sun trap. Here the family has access to cafes, restaurants and pubs for refreshments. The backdrop of the town from the beach, makes Ventnor Bay feel decidedly Mediterranean. There is a boat haven at one end and rocks at either side of the bay for kids to go crabbing. Ventnor beach really is a great family area and definitely one not to miss out.
Be aware, water sports are not suitable in this area due to possible hidden rocks.
Yaverland is easily accessible by car or foot. There is ample parking and it is about a mile from Sandown itself. Yaverland, like the rest of Sandown Bay, has gently sloping beaches and safe bathing. There is a kiosk and toilet facilities as well as a yacht club and plentiful parking. The area is great for families, walkers, water sport enthusiasts and dog walkers alike. Culver Cliff shelters the beach at Yaverland.
Winner of Quality Coast Award
Winner of Water Quality Award
Dogs are welcome all year round (beyond the yacht club towards Culver cliff).
There’s a whole range of lesser-known beaches and bays across the Isle of Wight. Here’s our comprehensive list
- Osborne Bay (via Osborne House)
- Appley and Puckpool (see Ryde above)
- Priory Bay (between St Helens and Seagrove)
- Whitecliff Bay (Bembridge)
- Luccombe (Shanklin)
- Reeth Bay (near ventnor)
- Monks Bay (near Bonchurch)
- Chale Bay
- Brighstone Bay
- Watcombe (near Freshwater)
- Alum Bay
- Fort Victoria
- Thorness Bay (near Cowes)
If you need to report a problem on any of the Island’s beaches, such as broken glass or damage to premises, the Isle of Wight Council provides an emergency service for these reports. Please contact +44 (0)1983 821105.
If you have any images of the above beaches and are happy for these to be used, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to see them!