Best Beaches On The Isle Of Wight: Discover The Island’s Most Scenic Sections Of Coastline



Deckchairs available...


The Isle of Wight’s dramatic coastline is dotted with chalk cliffs, pretty coves and hidden inlets, alongside a generous helping of sand. Many beaches on the island reflect its cherished traditional feel, so ice creams, buckets and spades and sandcastles are also the order of the day. But if you’re seeking something different, this handy guide will lead you to places where you can windsurf, hop on a boat to view The Needles, and follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria.

So whether you’re here for fish and chips, the Cowes Week regatta or just a bit of peace, it’s time to choose your best Isle of Wight beach (and perhaps a campsite nearby).

Alum Bay

Boat trips, a chairlift and views of the Needles

Sheltered beneath towering cliffs right at the island’s western tip, this beach is all about the views. You can gaze out at the lighthouse, the 19th-century coastal fort, and the iconic chalk stacks of The Needles from the long shingle strip. If you have the urge to get closer, regular boat trips with live commentary leave from the beach seven days a week in summer.

As for getting here, you can climb down the steep steps from the car park if you’re feeling fit. But an even better idea is to splash out on the precipitous chairlift from The Needles Landmark Attraction down to the water – an eye-opening experience and a rite of passage for visitors. 

Alum Bay’s water is considered safe for swimming and paddling. And if you stay until the evening, you’ll be all set for some fabulous sunset views…

Osborne House Beach

Ice creams, Punch & Judy and Victorian history

Queen Victoria loved this quiet sandy beach where her children learned to swim. Once the sole preserve of the royal family, it’s now open to all visitors. While you’re here, look out for the queen’s personal bathing machine and the colorful alcove she commissioned to sit and contemplate the views over the Solent.

Summer visitors can catch a traditional Punch & Judy puppet show, play in the water or just settle down in a deckchair with a little something from the ice cream parlour.

An added bonus is the beach’s proximity to the splendid Osborne House. The British monarch’s favourite summer residence is an opulent Italianate palace with lavish state rooms, ornate terraced gardens and intimate spaces, including the bedroom where she passed away. It’s easily reached via a 20-minute stroll along the pretty Valley Walk, and there are regular shuttle buses.

Freshwater Bay

How could you resist?


Smugglers’ caves and rock pools

A visit to Freshwater Bay is a real sensory experience. Low tide reveals an otherworldly landscape of rock pools and exposed boulders, while pebbles and flint, gently rolled by the waves at high tide, add a rhythmic soundtrack.

If you really want to get the most out of your trip, find a local guide to lead you around to the former smugglers’ caves in the cliff, which you can also view from the water on a kayak or paddleboard.

Want to explore inland as well? Take a look at our guide to the top things to do on the Isle of Wight.

Sandown Bay

Fish and chips, fairground rides and a pier

With golden sands that stretch for miles down to Shanklin Beach, a pleasure pier and a buzzing seafront promenade, Sandown Bay in West Wight was once named ‘Beach of the Year’ by Countryfile magazine. Its pedal boats, crazy golf course, fairground rides and amusement arcades are enough to keep the whole family busy. 

It’s a good spot for swimming and windsurfing, and there’s no need to bring anything with you as you can hire deckchairs and windbreaks. There’s also a selection of food to choose from, including, of course, fish and chips.

If you have a budding archaeologist in the family, the Dinosaur Isle museum at the eastern end of the beach has hands-on exhibits and a huge collection of fossils (although it’s quite possible that most people visit to see the animatronic dinosaurs…)

Steephill Cove

Beach huts, fishermen’s cottages & fresh seafood

Speckled with mulitcoloured beach huts, lobster pots and historic stone cottages, Steephill Cove reminds you what the English seaside is all about. On a visit here, you can clamber among the rock pools, build sandcastles, orclimb the surrounding rocky cliffs for views.

If you’ve worked up an appetite after all that activity, you can tuck into just-caught crab and lobster landed daily by the local fishermen at the Boathouse Restaurant or the laidback Crab Shed.

Getting here is easy, but you can only do it on foot – it’s a gentle meander along the coast path from Ventnor Esplanade or a slightly steeper walk along the evocatively named Love Lane. The Ventnor Botanic Garden above the beach is definitely worth a pause on the way.

Compton Bay

Ready for some fossil hunting?

Dinosaur footprints, windsurfing & fossils

Embraced by colorful sandstone cliffs, Compton Bay has kept its natural feel and has few facilities, but that’s what gives it its appeal. It’s popular with surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers, and you’ll sometimes spot paragliders riding the coastal wind currents too. 

Yet it’s the Iguanodon footprints at nearby Hanover Point that make this Isle of Wight beach really stand out. You can book a guide to show you around or just get digging in the loose gravel at low tide to try and find some fossils of your own.

Despite its remote feel, getting to Compton Bay couldn’t be easier – there are a couple of National Trust car parks on the cliffs above the beach.

Priory Bay

Coastal walks, woods and a low-tide lagoon

A peaceful golden sand beach that’s popular with those mooring yachts, Priory Bay has gorgeous views over the Solent and is only accessible from the coastal footpath. There’s a National Trust woodland behind it where kids can play in the shade, and at low tide the retreating waters leave a shallow lagoon for safer paddling.

Got your canine companion with you? The island also has plenty of places where they can run free, from St Helens to Seagrove and Monks Bay. Just check out our guide to dog-friendly beaches on the Isle of Wight. And if you need accommodation nearby, take a look at this guide to the best places to stay on the island.