Day trips to the Isle of Wight give you a real taste of what the Island has to offer, but it’s also a guaranteed fun day out for families, couples, explorers and adventurers. Whether you like to go walking, lounge on the beach or discover new activities, the Isle of Wight has it all.
1. Red Jet over to Cowes for the day
Cowes is the Regatta sailing capital and a vibrant town, with plenty to offer including boutique shops, incredible beach views and a variety of independent restaurants and cafés serving the most delicious cuisine.
Arrive at Cowes in just 30 minutes from Southampton on our Hi-Speed Red Jet service and be greeted by the unique and exciting town centre. As you stroll through the High Street you’ll spot many independent boutiques offering everything from fashion & jewellery to sweet treats. After a spot of shopping make your way down to the parade to enjoy a sight-seeing stroll along Cowes Beach, and explore further along to Gurnard, which is one of the Island’s best sunset spots.
When you start to feel peckish you can take your pick from many local restaurants, friendly cafes or even indulge in an ice cream, freshly made fudge or mouth-watering baked goods from the artisan bakeries and plazas.
2. Take in some History & Heritage
Take a day to soak up the local heritage and discover some of the big names from history that are associated with the Island. Start with a short walk from our East Cowes terminal to the former holiday home of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert. Osborne House is the full package for history buffs, gardeners and sight-seekers with the magnificent house to explore, grounds and gardens to stroll through and Queen Vitoria’s stunning private bay where you can go for a paddle, swim or simply sit and gaze out to sea. Top up on refreshments at the beach side parlour, grab some lunch at the café or dine like kings and queens in the Terrace Restaurant.
In the afternoon take the 20-minute drive or catch the bus to the high walls of Carisbrooke Castle. In the past the castle has been an artillery fortress, prison to Charles I, and royal holiday home. Today it’s an interesting and adventurous place to explore. Take a walk around the top of the castle with far reaching panoramic views, relax in Princess Beatrice’s garden or top up your knowledge in the museum full of artefacts from years past. Indulge in a slice of cake and a coffee at the castle tearoom before meeting the resident donkeys.
If you’d like to go further afield, journey back to the time of the Romans with a visit to Brading Roman Villa overlooking Sandown Bay. There you can discover beautifully preserved mosaic floors and an extensive collection of Roman archaeology in their visitor centre and museum. This fascinating visit will give you a unique insight into Roman life in Britain.
3. Day on the Beach
With 57 miles of coastline the Island is the ideal location for a day at the beach. You don’t need to limit yourself to just one, pack up and explore as many as you like.
If you’re looking for the full seaside experience, then head to Shanklin Beach armed with buckets and spades for the ultimate day of sandcastle building. Have a splash in the sea before exploring the arcades, Pirates Cove golf course and amusements. No trip to the seaside is complete without an overly extravagant ice cream from ‘Toppings’ and traditional fish & chips from ‘The Bayside’ along Shanklin Seafront.
For a more relaxed trip to the beach head to Colwell Bay, and take a walk along to Totland with far reaching views of the Needles. For the adventurers, bring along your kayak or paddleboard, as the crystal clear, calm waters of Totland and Colwell Bay’s are ideal for SUP.
4. Animal Adventures
Lions, monkeys and exotic animals on the Isle of Wight? Absolutely! There are three fantastic places to visit on the Island where you can see the most extraordinary animals with the best personalities.
Swing by the Monkey Haven to meet the cheeky chimps, birds and reptiles that have been rehomed at this wonderful rescue centre. Meet DJimmy with his toy pig, hear the signing from the Lar Gibbons and marvel at the beauty of the many owls who also live there. The keepers offer insightful and interesting talks throughout the day and there is a gift shop and café to pick up some lunch and souvenirs.
Visit the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary (formerly Isle of Wight Zoo) opposite Yaverland Beach to meet the lions, tigers and lemurs. With an incredible team of keepers sharing their knowledge and a lovely setting you’ll have a great day out learning all about the animals and the Wildheart Trust charity that stands behind them.
For something a little different visit Amazon World Zoo Park to see a variety of unusual and rare animals, lovingly cared for by their keepers with interesting talks and animal encounters available.
5. Days out with the kids
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fun-filled days out with the kids on the Isle of Wight.
Let imaginations run wild at Blackgang Chine, the Islands oldest theme park, ideal for younger children with its whimsical characters and imaginary lands that every child will fall in love with. At Blackgang you can be enchanted in the fairyland, become a dinosaur keeper in the Restricted Area 5, captain a ship at Pirate’s Cove or head to the wild west in Cowboy Town.
Run free at Robin Hill with 88 acres of parkland, natural woodland and countryside gardens filled with exciting playgrounds, treetop trails, jungle High adventure nets, slides, climbing, rides and more. Kids of all ages will love climbing through rope bridges, swings and bouncing among the trees on the nets. You’ll likely spot the colourful Peacocks and Red Squirrels too which make the entire day even better!
Older kids and adrenaline junkies will love The Aqua Park and football golf course at Tapnell Farm Park! While the older ones are bouncing their way through an inflatable ninja warrior style course, the younger kids can meet the farm animals, bounce as high as possible on the giant pillow, race around on go-karts and have a go in the adventure barn soft play! The bonus is after your day of adventure you can get your energy back at ‘The Cow’, the award-winning restaurant on site with mouth-watering burgers that can’t be beaten.
6. Action Packed
To ramp up the adventure take part in a day of activities that not only show you how fun the Island can be, but also how beautiful it is, with the incredible views you’ll see along the way.
Book an early morning session with the Isle of Wight Mountain Biking Centre, and take your bike, step away from the norm and take it up a notch, on the purpose made mountain bike trails. Choose from technical, jump or flow trails and head out for pure adrenaline. When you’re finished grab a bite to eat from the onsite catering truck serving Cheverton Farm meat and local produce.
In the afternoon, head over to the West Wight, and book in for a surfing or paddle boarding lesson with iSurf. Pick from a selection of lessons and take to the water for an afternoon of fun and no doubt, giggles in the sea with a fully qualified instructor. Regardless of your skill level, iSurf cater for all.
7. Wild Walks
Walking on the Island has always been popular, and with many events dedicated to walking on the Isle of Wight, it will be no surprise that there are plenty or trails and routes with the most picturesque back drops.
The Tennyson Trail is a 14-mile route starting at Carisbrooke Castle and ending at the most visited landmark, The Needles. As you journey across Bowcombe Down, Brighstone Forest, Mottistone Down, Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down be sure to have your camera handy… you’re going to need it. When you arrive at Alum Bay, spend some time exploring The Needles Old Battery and landmark attraction park before heading back. This is a tough trail, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from start to finish.
There’s wildlife aplenty on the Bouldnor Forest Nature Reserve walk. If you’re lucky you’ll spot one of the Islands Red Squirrels plus plenty of birds and woodland to see. The walk is mostly flat and it might be an idea to bring your wellies.