Beach Life

Whether it’s for building sandcastles or safe swimming, surfing or rockpooling, the Isle of Wight has the beach for you. We’ve talked to locals to get the lowdown on their favourite spots, from where to watch the sunset to who serves the best fish and chips.


“Appley Beach, with its miles of gentle golden sands, is a brilliant, family-friendly beach at any time of year. In the summer, the water is so warm when it comes in over the hot sands; it’s also the perfect place for a sunset swim. In the winter, it’s a great place for a stroll along the shore, watching the birds and collecting shells and sea glass along the way. With its quirky tower overlooking the beach, fab eateries (Three Buoys and The Dell are our family favourites) and stunning views across to the mainland, I think Appley is hard to beat.” Paul McCathie, Goodleaf Tree Climbing


“We are spoilt for choice in Gurnard with two wonderful beaches right on our doorstep — Thorness Bay to our left and Gurnard’s ‘secret beach’ to our right, both offering great sunsets. Thorness Beach, accessed down a pot-holey road via the holiday camp, is a hidden gem, where you can pull the car up on the beach front, have a barbecue, go rockpooling, swimming, or enjoy its protected location for a bit of paddleboarding. Gurnard’s secret beach is only accessible by foot when the tide is out and is the short stretch of sand between Gurnard and The Little Gloster. It’s a local favourite for a post-work picnic or quiet swimming spot.” Ben and Holly Cooke, The Little Gloster Restaurant with Room

Seagrove Bay

“Seagrove Bay, to the east of Seaview Beach, is a particularly stunning spot and you can see why many a marriage proposal is made here. With its gently sloping golden sands and clear waters, it’s a great place for families, with crabbing off Quay Rocks and watersports available at the Warren Boat Yard next to Seaview Yacht Club. It’s dog-friendly, too, with local parking and is easily accessible from Seaview village. There you will find Lily’s Café for yummy beach picnics, The Deli for great ice cream, Seaview Hotel for tasty lunches and The Fort pub for fab fish and chips.” Linda Groves, Seaview Art Gallery 

Totland Bay

“As you approach tree-lined Totland Bay, the first thing you’ll see is the shimmering turquoise water. The contrast between this and the green of the wooded hillside in summer is breathtaking and it’s a wonderful, safe place to swim. One of my favourite features is the old lifeboat station with its hand-painted ‘Totland Tides’ sign. The Waterfront is perfect for a drink and to watch the incredible sunsets.” Lilly Louise Allen, Artist and illustrator 

Steephill Cove

“From Ventnor seafront, Steephill Cove is a lovely, undulating 15-minute walk along the clifftops. Once there, grab one of Dave’s Deckchairs out of the shed and claim your spot. Enjoy a mid-morning cuppa from the Cove Coffee Shop followed by rockpooling when the tide is out — or rent a paddleboard or kayak from Steephill Cove Kayaks if you’re feeling more energetic. For lunch, grab a glass of something cold and one of our hot crab pasties, followed by an ice cream from the nearby café. It’s also fun to wander up and catch a game at the historic Ventnor Cricket Club, directly above the cove, or head to Ventnor Botanic Gardens next door to check out one of its regular art exhibitions, plus the famous flora and fauna.” Amanda Wheeler, The Crab Shed 

The Duver, St Helen’s

“After a hot chocolate at Baywatch on the Beach, amble along the breathtakingly beautiful St Helen’s Causeway towards the sand dunes of The Duver — it’s a sandy outcrop to
the side of Bembridge Harbour that leads to the open sea. I always have my camera with me to capture the sea birds, wildlife and flowers that I then turn into prints back in my studio in the village. At low tide, rockpooling at Nodes Point reveals the secrets of the sea. At high tide, the waves splash over the beach huts on the promenade. In the summer months, at sunset, take a picnic and a cosy blanket and you’ve got the beach virtually all to yourselves.” Jo Jeffery, Seashells and Lavender 


“Ventnor is the southernmost beach on the Island. It’s great for swimming at high tide — the water is often clear enough for snorkelling. Deck chairs and Victorian beach huts are available to hire at Blakes in the middle of the bay. I often enjoy a coffee at The Met Bar or Lady Scarlett’s and people-watch the promenaders in the morning sun. For top fish and chips, head to the Ventnor Haven Fishery and for pub grub, go to The Spyglass Inn, while the Smoking Lobster serves great seafood. The best spot to watch the sunset is the Art Deco-designed Winter Gardens — which also serves the best Guinness in town.” Julian Winslow, Photographer 

Sandown Bay

“Sandown Bay is one of the most recognised beaches, with its miles of golden sand beaches — it’s hardly surprising that it won Best British Beach in the Countryfile awards. The fantastic walk from Culver Down to Shanklin gives really idyllic views back across the bay. At Yaverland, you can swim, enjoy a picnic or barbecue, and look for fossils in the stones on the beach, which you can then take along to Dinosaur Isle to be identified. I also love a round of golf at Browns across the road. There are a multitude of cafés and restaurants here — I particularly love the breakfasts at Yaverland Kiosk, and Browns Café for tea and cake. If you fancy burgers with a fantastic view head to The Beach Café, and for evening drinks and dinner try The Reef.” Alex Peaker, Dinosaur Isle 

Alum Bay

“Situated on the westernmost point of the Isle of Wight, tucked down under 21 colours of sand is Alum Bay. This picturesque beach is framed by the iconic chalk stacks known as The Needles and offers that feeling of exclusion from modern-day life that so many of us are after on holiday. Being west facing, it enjoys the afternoon and evening sun, with the mid-summer sun high enough to shine over the cliff top by mid-morning for early beach-goers. In fair weather, it’s also popular with boaters anchoring in the bay, enjoying a spot of lunch or swimming in the waters close to the beach.” Peter Lemonius, Needles Pleasure Cruises 

Freshwater Bay

“Freshwater Bay has inspired many an artist and writer — Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson famously lived here, in Farringford House, now spectacularly renovated and open to visitors — and you can see why, with its soaring chalk cliffs, smugglers’ caves, sparkling waters and clean pebble beach. It’s perfect for swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding, which you can arrange through Adventure Activities — even surfing, when the weather conspires. For your coffee fix, head to The Piano Café, just a five-minute walk up the hill, and for great tea and cake go to the Dimbola Museum and Tearoom, after checking out the Victorian photography and exhibitions upstairs. For beach picnics, pick up great local produce from the Freshwater Co-Op just up the road.” Alison Whitewood, Blue by the Sea


“There are actually three beaches in Bembridge, but the main beach runs down the coast from the spit at the edge of Bembridge Harbour. At Bembridge Lane End Beach, the most notable feature is the 1922-built lifeboat station, perched at the end of a raised 200-metre-long pier. For a perfect beach barbecue, buy your ingredients in the village and then drive down to park in the sand dunes behind the beach, grab your paddleboards and swimsuits and hit the water while the charcoal warms up. Failing that, enjoy a sausage sandwich at the Tollgate Café — try not to let the ravens steal it! There are many rockpools here, so get your bucket and net and see what you can find. The whole beach is perfect for dog walking, too.” Jane Holman, The Farm Shop & No.8 Café

Compton Bay

“Compton Bay is a two-mile stretch of beautiful coastline flanked by National Trust carparks. It’s wild and unspoilt, making it one of my favourite beaches on the Island. It’s a wonderful place to walk, climb, swim, or watch the birds of prey. At low tide, you can spot casts of dinosaur footprints, take a fossil hunting tour ( or explore the many rockpools that are revealed as the tide goes out. Compton is also a great place to learn to surf or body-board and local surf-school iSurf ( runs regular lessons from here. Amenities include an ice-cream van and public toilets in the southernmost carpark. A short drive away there are some great cafés, such as Chessell Pottery in Brook, or the Piano Café in Freshwater, which serve fantastic food.” Abbie James, The Wave Project