“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”– Andre Gide.
We did the Portsmouth and IOW trip in Dec 2019. There is no bridge from England’s mainland to IOW. The only way to get to the island is to take a ferry or a hovercraft or any other kind of boats.
There are a few ports in UK from where you can take a ferry to IOW.
We took ‘Wight Link’ Ferry from Porstmouth. For booking and other details, please visit https://www.wightlink.co.uk/
If you are planning to take your vehicle, you will have to provide the Vehicle width and height. There is also a help link within the ferry website which will help you to get these details, by providing the registration number. There is enough space in the ferry to park your car.
Wightlink mainly operates in following routes:
a) Portsmouth – Fishbourne (Foot Passenger + Vehicles)
b) Portsmouth – Ryde (Foot Passengers only)
c) Lymington – Yarmouth (Foot Passenger + Vehicles)
NOTE: There is also a ferry from Southampton to East Cowes operated by Redfunnel. This journey takes around 1 hour (https://www.redfunnel.co.uk/en/book/ferry-booking/)
The high speed ‘Red Jet’ ferry service is for foot passengers only and makes a swift crossing in only 25 minutes.
We took the Portsmouth – Fishbourne ferry (took 10 Am ferry to IOW and returned in 5 PM ferry).
The sailing time is around 45 minutes. Please note that these ferries maintain a very punctual timing and hence ensure to be at the terminal at the exact timing.
Our ferry had 3 decks, 3 for parking and 2 for passengers. There are Coffee and Snacks counter available in the ferry.
If you are planning your trip from Portsmouth (island city/seacoast), I would strongly recommend to spend 1 full day(minimum) in Portsmouth aswell as there are some cool places/attractions in this city. This is a vibrant waterfront city and it’s the 3rd oldest City of the nation.
Some places worth visiting in Portsmouth are:
a) Emirates Spinnaker tower: (https://www.spinnakertower.co.uk/)
I would request to include Spinnaker tower in your itinerary. We got some great discounts from Groupon. So before booking, see if you can find some Groupon discount Coupons. The observatory in the top is worth visiting. You will get an excellent view of the entire place from the observatory. You can also step into the glass floor (sky walk) for a unique experience. Don’t forget to take your camera with you, as you can capture some stunning images from the top deck.
b) Gunwharf Quays (premium retail outlet):
This is a great shopping destination, where you will find a lot of retail outlets (around 90 shops). Since we visited during Christmas week, there were a lot of offers running in the shops. There are lot of parking space and restaurants available.
This is one of the neatest shopping complexes that I had ever gone. The parking areas/slots are very well marked and clean aswell.
Other places worth visiting:
We Stayed in an Airbnb Apartment in Portsmouth. The stay was very nice and close to city centre.
Address: Rosemary Lane, Portsmouth, England PO1 3DR, United Kingdom.
We reached IOW by around 10.45 AM.
The IOW is measured around 24 Miles from East to West and 12 miles from North to South.
The recommendation will be to do a road trip to cover all the places. However, there are also public transport (bus) available to the main attractions. In winter, the frequency of Bus will be very less. The website https://www.islandbuses.info/services will be helpful to explore the bus routes. Hop on Hop off buses are available only in Summer, I guess.
Also please note that there are many speed cameras in IOW. So, it will be good to control your speed while driving.
We covered the following places in our IOW trip.
1. Freshwater Bay:
Freshwater Bay is located about three miles east from the famous landmark Needles. Situated on a spectacular stretch of the island coastline, Freshwater is very popular with holidaymakers. The beach looks out across a little horseshoe-shaped cove which has been eroded out of chalk cliffs by the action of the wind and waves, leaving distinctive isolated stacks standing offshore. Behind the bay, Tennyson Down rises to an impressive height of 482 feet.
2. Compton Bay:
The beach at Compton Bay is one of the island’s best-kept secrets with nearly two miles of sandy beach.
3. Needles (it’s the farthest point) Rocks + Light House + Alum Bay:
Located in Alum Bay (which is known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs and stunning views), the Needles is one of the most beautiful spots on the Isle of Wight and perhaps it’s one of the most famous landmark… Unfortunately, many of the attractions are closed during the wintertime, especially in Needles.
The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the island and is a must see for all visitors to the Island.
In needles, don’t miss to take the 180 Steps to the beach. The other option to reach the beach will be to take the Chair Lift. From Alum Bay you can board a boat that takes you right up close to the rock formation.
4. Sandown Bay:
Situated half-way between Ryde and Shanklin, in a beautiful sheltered bay, Sandown is a seaside place with a healthy tourist population. It is famed for its long golden sandy beach and traditional British seafront and pier.
5. Ventnor Town/Beach:
Ventnor beach is the southernmost holiday beach on the Isle of Wight and is well-loved by locals and visitors alike.
The higher part is referred to as Upper Ventnor; the lower part, where most amenities are located, is known as Ventnor.
6. Monkey Haven: (https://www.monkeyhaven.org/)
Located in Newport, Monkey Haven is home to several species of the lovable primate. There are also meerkats, snakes and owls housed at this small attraction which has been awarded several accolades for its work in rescuing vulnerable animals from neglect and abuse.
Below are some of the Other places worth visiting. So plan your itinerary according to your interest:
Summary: IOW is a very good weekend option for people from UK. It is truly a hidden gem for anyone who wishes to get away from London to relax near the seaside. Many visits here to have some fun with their family on the beach, to go surfing or to bike along the island’s nature trails