In addition to the helpful guides available, these are some of our own favourite things that we can personally recommend.
The Best Dressed Crab. Eat in the café on a jetty in Bembridge Harbour or buy the most delicious crab to take home with you.
The Hut. You’ll need to book, it’s so good. Fab, busy, beach restaurant. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can arrive by RIB and they will meet you at their moorings and bring you in!
The Little Gloster. Wonderful seaside restaurant with Scandinavian influence. Especially good for aperitif in the garden while the sun goes down.
Thompson’s. Exceptional food from Michelin-starred chef. Unbelievably well priced and super relaxed.
The Pointer Inn. Cracking pub with superb seasonal menu. Locals can bring in their own produce to contribute to the menu in return for beer or food. Works really well as the start or end to some excellent walking in the hills around. Very busy so booking essential.
The Coast Bar. Busy bar and restaurant in Cowes – a favourite with our children.
The Old Fort. Part bar, part restaurant, The Old Fort has delicious local food and drinks and with huge windows which let you gaze at the sails on the sea or, if you get an outside table, watch the comings and goings at the Boat Club next door. Perfectly positioned if you want to wander along Seaview beach, Seagrove Bay or back onto Appley Beach at Ryde.
Salty’s. Yarmouth way. Great seafood and a good wine list. Right by the harbour so busy and fun.
To Buy to Eat
Farmer Jack’s. Best farm shop on the Island by miles. Excellent butcher, stacks of the local produce and 10 minutes drive away.
Briddlesford Farm Shop. They have their own herd of beautiful Guernsey cows so go there for incredible milk, cream, cheese and veal. It’s on the way home from Farmer Jack’s!
Yaverland Beach. One of our favourites as miles of sand and usually fairly quiet. Loos and carpark too!
St Helen’s Duver. Varied beach, great for swimming and rock pooling. Superb licensed café where you can eat by the beach or take out sandwiches. Also has Tacktisle so you can kayak, dinghy sail, SUP, SUP yoga or windsurf.
Ventnor Botanical Gardens. Mini Kew Gardens only subtropical – stuffed full of interesting things. Short walk from here down to Steep Hill Cove, an idyllic little beach with great beach-hut shops, proper coffee and best crab pasties at The Crab Shed. Seaside magic.
Newtown Creek. The most serene place on the Island. Wonderful in all weather and usually deserted.
Tennyson Down. Park in Freshwater Bay carpark and set off up Tennyson Down to the Monument and beyond to the Needles. Cracking views and the RNLI shop in Freshwater bay does sandwiches, ice cream and a great selection of second hand books.
We’ve downloaded the Viewranger app and have found it the most useful for discovering the best footpath walking across the Island. Areas we particularly enjoy are:
- Newchurch Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty starting and finishing (it will be worth it!) at The Pointer Inn (see above).
- Coastal path either east towards Ventnor and beyond to Luccombe or west to St Catherine’s Lighthouse starting at Undercliff Drive in Ventnor or at The Buddle Inn if you need sustenance.
- Up to St Catherine’s Oratory from Chale Green or along the cliffs and down onto the beach at Brook and Compton and on towards the Needles. The Wight Mouse Inn is an excellent very child-friendly start and finish point.
- The hills above Godshill. You can park in Godshill carpark and walk from there. Visit The Taverner’s on the High Street – dog and child-friendly proper pub with a delicious seasonal menu. Footpaths start in the village.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list but some of our personal favourites.
The Long House is perfectly positioned for joining the cycle route into Newport. This links to 32 miles of traffic free cycle paths (the old railway lines) across the island. Rather twee-ly known as the The Red Squirrel Trail, it is nevertheless a superb family cycling environment.
For more advanced cycling, there is the Round Island Route.
We would suggest Wight Cycle Hire for cycle hire but there are others on the Round Island route map.
Osborne House and St Mildred’s Church. Whippingham is the heart of Queen Victoria country. Osborne House is fascinating, the gardens and the Swiss Cottage will take you half a day to enjoy and the beach is sandy and has great ice cream, coffee (and a loo!). St Mildred’s was re-designed by Prince Albert and he and Queen Victoria worshipped there. Beautiful site, lots of interesting things to see and learn and a two minute walk from The Long House.
Tapnell Farm. Best day out on the Island with children in tow.
Tacktisle. For ALL your activity needs.
Blackgang Chine. Oldest theme park in the country. Don’t expect Alton Towers but it’s a great day out!
Brading Roman Villa. Set in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this site preserves the beautiful mosaic floors of a grand villa built around AD300 and many archaeological objects discovered on site. The museum will take you on a tour from pre-history to the modern day. It’s a fun, easy and interesting morning out. It also has a decent café and is in good walking country, within easy reach of Yaverland beach and the footpaths on the cliffs above.
Off the Rails. A restaurant in Yarmouth’s old railway station. Really good fun with an excellent, interesting menu, great staff and perfect for lunch. Wight Cycle Hire operates from here too. After lunch you can either walk just outside the door and follow the footpaths and cycle tracks around the Western Yar estuary. Alternatively, you can visit Yarmouth’s great selection of art and antique shops, second hand book shops, superb delicatessen and the harbour.
The Garlic Farm. Internationally renowned garlic farm with an excellent menu inspired by the wonderful garlic. You can also visit the shop and the farm, take a tour or have a wander. Fun stuff for children to do as well. Their own, genuinely delicious products are on sale in the farm shop. See the website for an excellent programme of events from opera to cooking demonstrations and there is, of course, The Garlic Festival in August.
Local Places to Eat Out
The Lifeboat. A five-minute drive away in East Cowes (next to East Cowes Marina) – there’s a big deck overlooking the river, and lots of seating space inside. It’s versatile and family-friendly, with some tasty, reasonably-priced food options, and gluten-free and children’s menus.
Prego. An Italian restaurant in East Cowes (close to the ferry port) – it’s stylish and cosy, and does eat-in and takeaway.
Isle of Wight Guru. Contains a wealth of information about the Island, including: discounts on travel to the Island; days out; eating and drinking out; walking; cycling; dog-friendly options; beach and tide info; festivals and much more.
Here are some of our favourite pages:
Visit Isle of Wight. The Island’s official tourism website, it covers all you’d expect with regard to attractions and how to get around the Island.
iow.gov.uk. The Isle of Wight Council’s website, with travel and parking info, beach water quality guides, and visitor attractions.