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Freshwater Walking

Swap Screen Time for Scene Time

Step away from the iPad, turn off the Switch, put down the PS5, and set sail with the kids on an offline adventure to the UK’s biggest Island, just 1 hour away from Southampton by ferry. 

Just across the water you’ll find beaches for seaside strolls, skimming stones and rock pooling. You’ll discover ancient woodland for finding giant sticks, squirrel spotting and games of “It!”. Dig out your walking boots for stomps through the countryside, puddle jumping and playing “Pooh Sticks” in the stream. 

From the cheeky residents at Monkey Haven to the roar of the steam train, the Isle of Wight is jam-packed with great family attractions and events, whether your kids love animals, dinosaurs, trains, ponies, football, buses, fantasy and more!

Our vehicle ferry fares include a car and up to 7 passengers as standard, with pets carried free of charge. If travelling on foot or with bikes, take advantage of our Family Ticket option to save on day trips. Find out more and book.

With so much to do and see, we’ve compiled a list of wonderfully different adventures to set sail for.

Tapnell Animal Barn


There are over 50 top attractions to choose from on the Island, all less than an hour's drive from one another, so you can really make a day of it. From days out on the farm to walking the battlements of a castle, unforgettable adventures are guaranteed. 

Family favourite attractions include Tapnell Farm Park, a one-stop-shop for playtime and fun with football golf, a soft play area, an animal barn, a jumping pillow and more. You’ll find places to eat and drink on the farm, as well as ‘The Cow’ - a casual restaurant specialising in burgers. 

For the ultimate fantastical and kitsch experience, head to Blackgang Chine – the UK’s oldest theme park. The land of imagination, discover Cowboy Town, the Underwater Kingdom, home of the dinosaurs ‘Restricted Area 5’, Pirate Cove, Fairy Land, and new rides for bigger kids. 

No trip to the Island is complete without a trip to one of our popular sanctuaries. Monkey Haven, the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary and Wildheart Animal Sanctuary are all great days out for animal lovers.

And who could forget the Needles, the Island equivalent to the Eiffel Tower. Head to the most westerly tip of the Island to marvel at the towering chalk stacks and enjoy the Landmark Attraction, offering mini golf, rides, a café, and the chance to build your own sand sculpture – a traditional Isle of Wight souvenir. 

Compton Dino Dog


Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs, Romans, royals, smugglers and soldiers – the Isle of Wight boasts a rich history with many attractions celebrating its past. Osborne, the former holiday home of Queen Victoria, makes a fabulous day out for all ages - little ones will love exploring the Swiss Cottage, once the playground of the royal children. Head to Carisbrooke Castle to explore the grand battlements and learn about Charles I’s imprisonment during the English Civil War, or to Brading Roman Villa for perfectly preserved mosaics and an insight into the life and times of the Island’s Roman residents. 

In the 1700-1800s, the Island’s rugged coastline provided an ideal tunnel system for pirates and smugglers to stash their contraband in the undercliff. A visit to former smugglers haunt, The Buddle Inn, can be perfectly paired with a walk around St Catherine’s Lighthouse, dating back to 1838 – both are featured in this Smugglers Trail. Another great place to dive into maritime history is the Shipwreck Museum based in Arreton Barns, with a wealth of interesting artefacts. 

Over in the West Wight, perched atop the chalk cliffs of Alum Bay, you’ll find the Needles Battery, built in the 19th century to defend against French invasion. The tunnels are now open to the public and offer panoramic views of the Needles and the English channel, as well as a fascinating glimpse into Britain’s historical coastal defences. 

And finally, they don’t call us the ‘Dinosaur Isle’ for nothing! The Island is the fossil finding capital of Europe with over 20 types of dinosaurs having been found on our shorelines and in the cliffs. You can set out on your own fossil finding missions at Brook and Compton Bay – don’t forget to look out for the fossilised dinosaur footprints at low tide. You’ll find the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown, and can even book in for a guided fossil hunt with Island Gems, Wight Coast Fossils or Dinosaur Expeditions.

Family Cycling


The Isle of Wight is the perfect place to disconnect from technology and screens and reconnect in the great outdoors. There are over 500 miles of trails waiting to be explored on foot or by bike, along beautiful and varied coastline and countryside. 

Pack up the car with bikes, kayaks, surf boards, and the dog, and head on over to start your adventure. For family cycling set off on the Red Squirrel trail, a 32 mile mainly off-road cycle track connecting Cowes to Newport and through to Merstone, where the trail loops round to Shanklin and Sandown via Godshill or Alverstone. Many families start in Shanklin, cycling the loop back to Sandown and the esplanade back to Shanklin. 

The Island boasts 70 miles of beaches and coastline, so you’ll never be far from the sea. Bembridge, St Helens, and Yaverland are dog-friendly all year round, and make particularly nice places for your four-legged friends with plenty of room to run on the sand. If you fancy a dip, the water at Sandown or Shanklin is ideal for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. 

You can find some great walking route suggestions here, offering spectacular views and interesting landscapes or lots of hills for tiring out little legs! Or maybe you fancy a walk with a difference… how about with an alpaca at West Wight Alpacas? Guided by their expert staff, the walk also offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside for an experience you won't forget.