The Isle of Wight is one of my most favourite places in the UK. And seeing that the first time I visited was in 2014, I’ve gotten to know the island fairy well over the past two years and even took part in the Round the Island race last year! My in-law’s boat is moored across the Solent in Buckler’s Hard Beaulieu, and so we try to sail over to The Isle of Wight as often as possible during the warmer months!
I’ve also got the Lymington – Yarmouth ferry before too. Not only is it faster than sailing, but you can have drinks and snacks and catch up on Wightlife magazine too! This is not so much a review of the Isle of Wight, but a guide to my favourite parts and some ideas on what to do on the Isle of Wight. I have my favourite brunch, lunch and dinner places further down so keep reading!
What to do on the Isle of Wight
As the first port of call, I would definitely recommend getting a day or weekend bus pass. You can hop on and off the open top buses and travel around the whole island, taking in sites as you go along. It’s the best way to travel across the island and gives little legs a chance to rest between attractions!
Dinosaurs are everywhere on the Isle of Wight – not actual dinos, but fossils and bones! The dinosaur trail is great for kids and big kids alike and is a great way to see the island. Certain points on the trail are smart-phone friendly and allow you to see the dinosaurs interacting through your phone or tablet.
If you’re really into dinosaurs then The Isle of Wight dinosaur museum near Sandown is worth a visit. Although it’s quite small and not a huge amount to see – but it is quite near the beautiful Eastern Beach which is worth stopping off at on the way back to the bus stop.
As soon as we got to the beach, Little K was off marching down to the shore-line. Eastern beach is a lovely sandy beach with some small stalls selling buckets and spades and a café serving snacks, drinks and amazing local ice-creams.
The best thing about the beach is that it’s a sure-fire way to tire out little ones and give the parents a break for an hour or two!
The next place you should definitely visit is The Needles Battery – free if you’re a National Trust Member. Not just stunning views across the Solent and the Isle of Wight Needles, but walk through the tunnels and see the old Victorian coastal defence.
Yarmouth Pier is a lovely spot to take a walk in the mornings as there’s a great café serving lovely breakfasts and brunches. As you walk down the pier you can see the names of all those who donated to rebuild the pier after it was attacked by gribbles. If you walk down to Yarmouth Marina, you can see a giant gribble seat which is a great photo op for the little ones. If I remember correctly, Yarmouth Pier is the longest wooden pier in the UK and is grade two listed.
Best for brunch
The Gossips café right by Yarmouth pier is the perfect spot for breakfast or brunch. They have a great selection of breakfasts and an ice-cream bar outside with the yummiest local ice-creams (ha yes I did have an ice-cream after breakfast!). If you’re catching a ferry, you can sit by the window and watch it coming into Yarmouth harbour so you know how fast to eat!
Best for lunch
Situated just a short walk away from Yarmouth harbour is the Off the Rails. Situated on the old railway line which is now a great cycle path, it’s a quirky restaurant great for cyclists, walkers, and pretty much anyone who loves great simple and local food.
Housed in the old railway station, Off the Rails has a charming atmosphere – just mind the gap if you sit outside! As I had my toddler with me, we chose to sit inside as he’s the kid that would charge straight over the platform… Inside Off the Rails it’s a real delight – think retro railway chic. Overhead baggage compartments and train seating give a great experience to the meal.
The menu is typical up-market café-style with sandwiches, salads and some hot meals. They don’t do a childrens’ menu as they believe that children should eat the same as the adults and so they just do kiddie portions of the main menu. I totally agree with this and my son loved the Welsh rarebit he had! If I was hungrier, I would have ordered (and demolished) the luggage burger which looked delicious – instead I had a ciabatta sandwich and small carafe of wine. I love it when restaurants have carafes as sometimes a glass isn’t enough and a bottle is too much ; )
Best for dinner
Hand’s down my favourite place on the Isle of Wight is Newtown Bay. It’s a National Trust nature reserve area bursting with wildlife – we even saw seals there last year! Newtown Bay is best experienced by boat – but there’s a bus stop on the Main Road in Shalfleet, right outside the New Inn which is the best place for dinner on the Isle of Wight.
In fact, this is one of my favourite pubs in the UK – it’s so unpretentious that you can stroll in wearing your wellies or wet weather gear and no one will bat an eyelid. I’ve spent many an afternoon warming up by an open fire waiting for the tide to come back in so we can get back to the boat! But the food is primarily why the (award winning) New Inn is so fantastic and it’s quite-rightly won Isle of Wight Dining pub of the year once again in 2016. So if you’re visiting the Isle of Wight – jump on a bus and head to Newtown Bay. Take a walk past the New Inn all the way down to the shoreline and you won’t be disappointed! On your way back – stop at the New Inn and have something to eat. It can get very busy during peak times so you may want to make a reservation.
There is a menu – but I always ignore it and go straight for the specials board. That’s where you’re going to get the best seasonal and local foods. I love the pint (or half-pint) of prawns to start with – they’re delicious! You can view a sample specials board here and find out more about the pub.
How seriously amazing does it look? Book your ferry to the Isle of Wight now!