Some of the best beaches in all of Britain are found on the Isle of Wight. With approximately 57 miles of coastline, there are a lot of beaches to choose from, whether you’re looking for a classic stretch of yellow sand or a dramatic cove edged by cliffs and home to hundreds of rockpools.
The beaches you visit on the Isle of Wight might depend on where you are staying, but the whole island is small enough that most visitors tend to explore multiple locations during their stay. We’ve created this guide to the best beaches on the Isle of Wight to help you decide which you should visit, from the best spots for sandcastles to the top-rated watersports destinations.
You’ll find Shanklin Beach at the southernmost tip of Sandown Bay on the southern coast of the island. It’s one of the Isle of Wight’s most established beaches that frequently wins the title of the ‘best beach on the Isle of Wight’, so if you’re looking for recommendations this spot comes with rave reviews.
The sand at Shanklin Beach is soft and golden and you’ll find plenty of classic British seaside attractions like beach huts, crazy golf and little cafes along the promenade. It’s a wonderful place for a day trip even if the weather isn’t particularly warm, with plenty of things to do for all ages.
If you’re looking for that classic Victorian seaside atmosphere that is a part of so many popular British beaches, Ventnor on the southeast coast of the Isle of Man will be right up your street. Made up of red shingle and golden sand, the beach is overlooked by a promenade and a row of charming beach huts and is only a short walk away from a range of beachfront amusements, cafes and ice cream shops.
Ventnor Beach is also often thought of as one of the Isle of Wight’s best beaches because of its position on the southern side of the island, giving it an almost tropical microclimate that is absolutely blissful on summer days.
The beach at Compton Bay is two miles long and backed by white chalk and sandstone cliffs that can only be traversed via three sets of stairs dotted along the coastline. It’s a beautiful beach that is ideal for watersports and swimming, but the facilities here are limited so you’ll need to pack a picnic if you’re planning on spending the day.
The rockpools along the shore are one of the main attractions at Compton Bay, and it’s known as being one of the best places in the Isle of Wight for taking a net and exploring these small marine habitats. You might also spot a fossil or two, if you’re lucky.
Sandown Beach is another place to visit in the Isle of Wight if you’re after a classic seaside experience, with a charming ‘bucket and spade’ atmosphere that makes it one of the island’s most popular resort towns. The beach itself is soft and sandy, sheltered by cliffs on both sides which protect it from bad weather and means it’s a real sun trap on hot days.
The sheltered nature of Sandown beach also means that the water is really calm, so it’s a great place for swimming. There is also a range of classic beachfront amusements just up from the sand, including beach huts, crazy golf and plenty of fish and chip shops.
Gurnard Beach is found only a short walk away from Cowes on the north of the island. It’s quite a small beach compared to most of the others on the Isle of Wight, but there is still a surprising amount of facilities and attractions nearby including beach huts, a promenade, a children’s playground and several cafes.
The sunsets at Gurnard are renowned across the island, so it’s an ideal place to come in the evening, sit on the shingle and sand beach, and watch the sun slip into the ocean.
Located on the east coast of the island in view of Bembridge Ledge and St. Helen’s Fort, Bembridge is a very pebbly beach until low tide when a smooth strip of sand is revealed beside the water. It’s a great place to enjoy a bit of beachcombing and is also favoured by early morning swimmers who like to get out in the water before the rest of the crowds arrive.
Bembridge Beach is also known for being a top spot for sailing thanks to its proximity to multiple boating clubs in the nearby town.
Colwell Bay is located on the west side of the Isle of Wight and has a reputation for being one of the cleanest parts of the coast on the whole island. It’s a popular place for swimming, snorkelling and other watersports because of this, and is a great place to bring a family because of its proximity to a large car park.
There’s a long promenade behind the sand and shingle beach at Colwell Bay, so once you’ve enjoyed your time down by the water you can stroll along to Totland Bay and enjoy the beach there as well.
Steephill Cove is a small bay only a short walk away from the busy beach at Ventnor, and is a bit of a hidden gem on the Isle of Wight that many locals try and keep to themselves. Whilst the beach itself is only visible at low tide, it’s still worth a visit for the totally unspoiled scenery and a bit of peace and quiet in the evening or early morning.
This beach is only accessible by foot, revealing a curved little bay with beach huts, charming cottages and a short stretch of promenade where you can enjoy an ice cream or cone of chips.
Freshwater Bay is located within an Area of Outstanding natural beauty on the western tip of the Isle of Wight, and is certainly one of the most visually stunning spots on the coast of the island. The beach itself is a mixture of flint and pebbles at high tide, whilst low tide reveals a strip of sand and leaves a great array of rock pools that are ready and waiting to be explored.
This is a popular place in the Isle of Wight for watersports, so expect to see paddleboarders, kayakers and surfers out in the waves if you visit.
Alum Bay is best known for its famous multicoloured sand, formed by the vast variety of different kinds of shingle that have been deposited on the shore by the sea. Not only does this unique feature make it a particularly picturesque place to visit, but the rock formation known as The Needles also stretched out from the cliffs into the sea is a very well-photographed spot.
The water at Alum Bay is really clear so it’s a great place for swimming. You’re not allowed to take any of the coloured sand home with you, but you can buy special souvenir bottles in plenty of the shops nearby.
St Helen’s Beach
St Helen’s Beach is also known by locals as St Helens Duver and is one of the best Isle of Wight beaches for rock pooling. With sand dunes up by the promenade and rocky stretches of beach revealed when the tide goes out, there are plenty of habitats to discover if you time a walk with low tide and bring a fishing net or bucket with you.
The Duver Beach at St Helen’s is now owned by the National Trust and is a great place to enjoy a walk and see some of the coastal wildlife that lives in this area.
A lot of the criteria for the best beach on the Isle of Man is met by Yaverland Beach. Soft golden sand? Clean and shallow water? Dogs allowed all year round? Check, check and check.
This beach is located between Sandown and the Culver Down cliffs and is favoured by surfers, paddle boarders and swimmers because of the calm and clear water. The cliffs nearby also mean that this is a great place to come if you want to go fossil hunting along the sand, so you’ll often see families setting out on walks from the car park just up from the water.
If you’re looking for a beach in the Isle of Wight where you can simply sit and watch the world go by, the beach at Cowes is an excellent spot. It’s a shingle beach without any particular standout features, but there are several shelters built that make the ideal place to sit on your own or with a friend as the sun sets, or during the day if you want to watch yachts and larger boats cruise past.
Appley Beach is found in Ryde in the Isle of Wight and is a great place to take small children who want to spend a day by the sea. The sand is soft and golden and there is a range of facilities close by including a cafe and a playground, so you can set yourself up for the day and have everything you might need in easy reach.
At low tide the sea retreats a long way off down the beach, leaving lots of room to walk along the sand or play games away from the water. Even on busy days in the middle of summer, there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Finally, Ryde Beach is often recommended if you’re looking for the best sandy beaches on the Isle of Wight because of the six miles of smooth golden sand that is notably lighter in colour than most other places on the island, making it a particularly photogenic spot. With a long promenade, beachside facilities and shallow waters that are ideal for paddling, it’s a fantastic all-rounder that is ideal for days out.
Found on the northeast coast of the island, Ryde Beach is famous for its massively long pier that was built in order to ferry passengers from the ocean to the shore when the tide was all the way out, saving them a long walk across the sand.
As one of the UK’s original seaside resort destinations, the Isle of Wight is a fantastic place to visit if you’re looking to spend a holiday beside the sea. With a brilliant selection of classic resort towns as well as more secluded beaches and surfing bays, there’s something for everyone featured in this list, which should make choosing which to visit much easier.
If you’re planning a holiday to the Isle of Wight and are looking for somewhere to stay, why not check out our range of self-catering properties on the island.