The Baywatch on the Beach sits in one of the most wonderful water-side locations on the Isle of Wight, right on the beach at the Duver in St Helen’s, with fantastic views across the entrance to Bembridge Harbour and over the Solent to the mainland.
Baywatch began life as a small hut in a converted railway carriage, which can still be seen at the back of the restaurant – look for the curved ceiling. Successive owners added to this humble shack and now the large area can seat around 50 people inside, with outdoor seating offered on tables along the beach wall.
The interior has a New England feel with the woodwork in an unusual shade of verdigris – “We picked a colour from the seascape here and had it mixed,” said owner Paul Knowlson. Tide tables are supplied on the walls for sailors, fisherman and those who might want to walk out to the St Helen’s Fort for the late summer low tide exodus that crowds of Islanders make every year.
Paul took over the Baywatch six years ago after owing cafes in the Bay area of the Island, and hasn’t looked back. Head Chef, Jason Long, worked in restaurants in London, including The Ivy and Latimer Michelin starred establishments, “learning from the best” for eight years before returning to his roots on the Island. “When Paul took over we built up the fine dining in the evening,” said Jason. “Our fish dishes are simple unpretentious, and uncomplicated.”
Fish and seafood are what Baywatch are known for and mussels are their signature dish: Moules Marinières or their steamed Thai Moules with lemongrass, coconut, chilli and coriander. Whole fish such as sea bass, lemon sole and plaice and the local lobster and crab are popular in the evenings when the Baywatch really comes into it’s own. Meat eaters don’t despair – fillet steaks and gargantuan gourmet burgers are also served. As the last embers of the sun die away, candles are lit, the lights across the bay start to twinkle and the Baywatch becomes a stylish but informal beachside restaurant.
During the day it is the outdoor tables with their jaunty red and yellow umbrellas that draw the crowds for breakfasts (9am till 11.30am) and lunches (noon till 4.45pm). Cream teas are also popular and their enormous fruit scones are freshly made in the kitchen every morning. During the day you order at the bar inside and take a plastic numbered bucket to your table – a quirky touch that sees a few buckets ending up on the beach with little visitors.
Evening meals are served from 5.45pm till 9.30pm and the restaurant stays open until the first week in November, weather permitting.