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The Clifton’s Top 5 Isle of Wight Beaches

 The Sun is shining and the mercury rising, so what better way to cool off than a dip down at one of the Islands award-winning beaches.

Being on a small island you’re never far from a beach, and we are blessed with some of the best in Europe, from long stretches of golden sands to quiet hidden coves our 57 miles of coast has a lot to offer. With 17 Blue Flag awarded beaches it’s really difficult to pick a favourite, but let’s highlight a few with the Clifton’s Top 5 Beaches to take a dip and cool off in the wonderful weather we’re having.

1.       Shanklin

Ok, we may be a little biased,  The Isle of Wight is home to many stretches of fine coastline, but few match the tranquil simplicity of the Shanklin sands. Easily reached from any part of the esplanade Shanklin beach rewards a short walk with a stretch of golden sanded serenity, free of the stresses of modern life!. The views from the surrounding cliffs and gardens provide stunning views while the azure waters are warm and safe for bathers and paddlers of all ages. The coastal windshield created by the cliffs can also give beachgoers their own personal Mediterranean vista. On a practical level, the beachfront is well equipped with a selection of restaurants, cafes, bars as well as amusements & crazy golf. So whatever your age and whatever the weather, Shanklin’s beaches can provide a level of enjoyment to serve both nostalgic desires and practical convenience.

Shanklin-Beach

View Shanklin Sea Front Website

2.       Steep Hill Cove

With only a handful of cottages, brightly coloured canopied deckchairs, beach huts, lobster pots and an old donkey and not a slot machine, car or burger in sight, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped back in time. Some people liken it to the hidden coves in Cornwall, whilst others think of the palm fringed bays of the Mediterranean, welcome to Steephill Cove on the sunny south side of the Isle of Wight. Arguably the prettiest place on the Island, situated just south of the Victorian seaside town of Ventnor, Steephill Cove is a traditional, unspoilt fishing cove with a safe, sandy beach, nestled between rocky cliffs and smugglers’ coves. This little bay has no road access, making it a unique noise and pollution free beach. Parking is five minutes away in the award winning Botanical Gardens, or the private car park (cheaper) above the Cove on the main road. If you are looking for noisy arcades, smelly burgers, pubs and kiss-me-quick hats, don’t come here. If, on the other hand you like the freshest crab and lobster, rock- pools, watching children building sandcastles, the fishermen unloading their catch, feeding the donkey or simply lazing in a deck chair then Steephill Cove is for you. The Cove’s resident fishermen provide mouth-watering fresh crab and lobster, brought ashore daily (weather permitting) and placed onto your plate at the Cove’s wonderful Boathouse Restaurant, and the Crab Shed which is more informal- but still features the catch of the day including daily specials, fresh mackerel and the increasingly popular crab pasties. There is also a café for teas, coffee and cakes (open Easter-October).

steephill-cove

Picture Courtesy of http://www.steephill-cove.co.uk/

3.       Compton Beach

Long summer days spent at the beach as a family are what holidays are all about. Compton is one of the best family beaches on the Isle of Wight. With safe waters and miles of soft sand, you’ll find it the perfect place to let little explorers run around and experience all that the coast has to offer. It wouldn’t be a family day at the beach without a sandcastle. The soft golden sands of Compton are perfect for creating your masterpiece of coastal design and engineering. You could even use the rocks, shells and seaweed on the beach to decorate it. Every summer holiday the National Trust hold our Sandcastle Competition here. Why not come along and see if your whole family has what it takes to beat the tide or create the most inventive design? The beach at Compton is gently shelving making it a safe place for little swimmers. Very tiny feet could try jumping over the waves at the water’s edge, whilst older adventurers could give surfing and bodyboarding a go. There are toilets located in the car park at Compton and an outdoor tap, so you can get rid of the sand between your toes before you head home. If you walk along Brook beach towards Hanover Point, you’ll come across an ancient forest. But this one isn’t made of wood or even standing up. It’s the flattened, fossilised remains of the trees that once stood here. If you look carefully along the beach at Brook and Compton, you’ll also spot three-toed dinosaur footprints. Try fossil hunting and see what ancient creatures you can find but be careful of getting too close to the base of the cliffs as they are prone to falls.

compton-bay

View Compton Beach Website

 

4.        Alum Bay

Alum Bay is well known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs and stunning views across the Solent. Many homes around the world have a glass object filled with sand as a memento of a visit to Alum Bay and The Needles, but perhaps less well known is the recent history of Alum Bay. Approximately 70 million years ago, the sea bed rose, was eroded and then sank beneath the sea again. The new sea was shallow and it laid down a series of sands and clays. Some 10 million years later, movement in the bedrock caused these sediments to be pushed nearly vertically to form the multi-coloured cliffs that are visible today. The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica, and in their pure state are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals. In the latter part of the 18th Century, the first tourists started to arrive at Alum Bay and during the early part of the 19th Century, it became an essential place to visit during an Island holiday. During the two World Wars, however, the Alum Bay area was heavily militarised and access to visitors was.

alum-bay

Visit Needles & Alum Bay Website

 

5.       Ryde Beach

On the North eastern coast of the Isle of Wight lie the beaches of Ryde, offering miles of golden sand and every amenity a beach goer could wish for. The beach’s wide expanse of sand is so massive that at low tide it can take several minutes to get from a sunbathing spot to the water. Ryde’s harbour is only accessible at high tide, and boats stuck on the sandbanks are not an uncommon sight. Ryde’s pier splits the beach in two, with a wide variety of activities and entertainments occupying both the pier itself and the beaches beside it. The pier is the second longest seaside pier in the country, but even that isn’t enough to keep the sand from almost reaching the pier’s edge at low tide. The nearly half mile long pier was originally constructed in 1814 and today is a lovely place to step out over the sea and feel as though you’re truly walking on water. From the pier, visitors are treated to stunning views of Portsmouth and its famous Spinnaker Tower. Facing the pier, an amusement arcade is filled with multiple restaurants, pubs and shops. An ice rink, a bowling alley and a pirate themed play area, Peter Pan’s Playground, are all close by. To the East of the Pier, visitors will find several amusements as well as the most popular beaches of the area. Waterside, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, is one of the first attractions guests will come across on this side of the pier. There is also a small boating lake where visitors can rent swan-shaped pedalos. The beaches are easily accessed via the promenade that runs East of the pier. Deckchairs, sunloungers and more can all be hired along the promenade and on the beach itself, as well as equipment for windsurfing, which is popular in the area. To the West of the Pier, the beaches are much smaller and quieter, often favoured more by locals than tourists.

ryde-beach

For more information on these and the many other wonderful beaches on the Isle of Wight visit our friends at www.visitisleofwight.co.uk