A family holiday on the Isle of Wight {Part 1}

When I was a little girl, somewhere around seven years old (at a guess), my Mum and I went on holiday to the Isle of Wight, just the two of us, and had the best time exploring together.  I’ve been wanting to go back and re-visit the island for years and years, particularly now that I have my own daughters – I wanted us to have our own family holiday on the Isle of Wight.  I wanted to show them all of my memories, tell them my stories and let them create their own experiences there.

I have incredibly fond memories of that trip with my Mum: the excitement of the ferry ride over to the island; the wonder of the coloured sand at The Needles; the inherent magic of Shanklin Chine; the Fawlty-Towers-esque BnB we stayed in; the car breaking down (what an adventure that was!), sandy beaches, delicious ice cream and so much more…

A Family Holiday on the Isle of Wight

This summer just gone, we finally did it.  In August 2022, just a couple of weeks after getting back from our Spanish summer holiday in Nerja, we spent a week exploring the island, having our very own family holiday on the Isle of Wight.  It feels like forever ago already, and we’re already two seasons on from when we were actually there, but I was determined to document it here anyway, for the memories.  Better late than never, right?

This blog post shares what we got up to during the first half of our family holiday on the Isle of Wight…


I booked our accommodation from Monday – Monday because it was far more reasonable (by about £1000!) than staying for any other combination of days.  We travelled down on the Sunday morning though, to spend some time with my best friend and her family, who live in Southampton.  This also meant that we could split up the long journey to the Isle of Wight a little bit as well.

We arrived in Southampton mid-morning after our standard 6am departure from our house, spent some time wandering around the city and got some lunch…

Road trip essentials

Street art in Southampton

This is a pedestrian crossing painted on the road in Southampton and I love it so much!

…before heading to the suburbs to spend the afternoon visiting my friend.  We went for a long walk around the local cemetery and park, fed the ducks and pigeons and picked blackberries, chatting as we walked whilst the younger kids played together and entertained the dog.  We had pizza for dinner and stayed overnight, ready for our brand new adventure the next morning.

I have this thing with doors…and this church entrance was absolutely stunning

Walking through Southampton Cemetery

Feeding the pigeons – they ate right out of her hand!



Our ferry wasn’t due to depart until 11am so we were able to have a slow-ish morning at my friend’s house before driving through pretty New Forest villages to get to the ferry port.  There are several different types of ferries (some are foot-passenger only, some take vehicles as well) and three different departure points from the mainland to get across to the Isle of Wight.  It means there’s loads of choice with regards to price, timings and arrival points.  We opted for the shortest car-ferry crossing from Lymington to Yarmouth.

The whole process was super easy:  we queued up and parked our car in one of the marked lanes; had 20 minutes or so to grab a cup of tea and an all-important snack for the journey from the little cafe that’s there; and it only took forty minutes to smoothly cross the Solent.  Disembarking at Yarmouth was very simple too and I’d give our first car-ferry experience a thumbs up.

We parked in a car park that was literally a 30-second drive from the ferry port and walked into Yarmouth in search of somewhere to eat lunch.  Yarmouth is in the north-west of the island and it’s a pretty little village.  We headed straight for The Gossips Cafe, a sweet little place overlooking the waterfront by the pier.  It was busy (something I always take to be a good sign – it means the food is good!) and we got a table within about ten minutes. Waitresses bustled around us delivering food and drinks, our paninis and baguettes were tasty and decent-sized, and the atmosphere was humming with the kind of excited energy that you get when you’re about to start a new adventure.

Once we’d eaten, we went for a walk down Yarmouth Pier before looking for shells on the pebbly beach underneath it.  As we had a little more time to kill before we were allowed in our holiday accommodation we wandered around the village, exploring tiny side-streets and popping into some of the shops – Ella found an old second-hand bookshop and was instantly in heaven.

Just after we arrived for our family holiday on the Isle of Wight

Walking down Yarmouth Pier

Yarmouth was so pretty – I loved all the tiny side-streets like this with tumbling flowers and stone houses and beautiful views of the water at the end of the path.

An hour or so later we jumped back in the car and headed diagonally across the island to Sandown, which is where our accommodation for the week was located.  Sandown is a seaside town situated on the east of the island, much bigger and busier than quaint little Yarmouth.  We booked our home for the week – a modern, new build, 2-storey, 3-bedroom house – through Sykes Cottages.  It was really lovely – clean, high quality, spacious and perfect for the five of us (even if there were a couple of grumbles from the teenagers about two out of three of them needing to share a room).  And, as a bonus that made my heart very happy, a two-minute walk over the road took you straight onto the beach.

For full transparency, there was some construction work still going on in the area immediately around the property – it was a bit of a building site – which we hadn’t been told about at all during our booking or arrival process.  The builders seemed to start work at about 7.30/8am most weekday mornings and the noise woke our youngest daughter up a couple of times but it wasn’t really too much of a bother as it meant we had more time for exploring!

However, at the risk of sounding middle-aged, there was a bar/restaurant/hotel situated right behind the house which played loud music until the early hours of the morning every single night we were there.  Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me in the slightest – I’m all for people having a good time and, to be fair, it was good music! – but even with the windows closed (with no air con and it was hot weather) we could still hear it almost as loudly as if it were in the room with us.  This meant that no-one got very much sleep at all for the whole week which then had the knock-on effect of tired, grumpy children.



The girls only request for the first full day of our family holiday on the Isle of Wight was to go to the beach, so that’s exactly what we did.  Under ominous skies and leaning into the wind that whipped our hair across our faces with ferocity, we headed east and walked along the sand towards Yaverland, clambering over groynes, shrieking at seaweed and chasing the seagulls.  Sometimes it really is the simple things..

Wandering along Yaverland Beach

If you put your ear against this wall in just the right spot, you could hear an echo of the waves – like when you put a seashell to your ear and listen to the sea.

Sand and sea and stormy skies

In the afternoon we headed in the opposite direction – west towards Sandown town itself.  We pottered around a couple of shops then spent some time at Sandown Pier which is home to a vast array of arcade games, an indoor crazy golf course, bowling lanes and rides. We didn’t make it past the arcade games section at the front – the girls’ spent all of Neil’s money and Lola won herself a Sonic the Hedgehog cuddly toy from the claw-grab machine – she was utterly thrilled and it pretty much made her day!

Sandown Pier

We wandered back along the promenade and got our first ice cream of the holiday from ‘Milk It!’ on Sandown Esplanade.  It was fairly reasonable (£3 per single come, £4 per tub, with plenty of actual ice cream packed into each) and there was a good choice of flavours.  The girls opted for rocky road, millionaires shortbread and white chocolate & raspberry, and reported back that they were absolutely delicious.

Eating ice cream on the Esplanade in Sandown



We decided to head a little further afield this morning and made our way up to Ryde on the north-eastern edge of the Isle of Wight.  The town reminded us a lot of Bude in Cornwall, which we visit every year. There were lots of unique, independent gift shops and plenty of interesting, aesthetic cafes – I wanted to try them all!

Our first port-of-call was to walk all the way out along Ryde Pier, which is the second-longest seaside pier in England – only Southend is longer.  The original pier is (apparently) the oldest seaside pleasure pier in the world, opening in 1814.  It was a clear day so we were able to admire the pretty views across the Solent to Portsmouth on the mainland as well as looking back towards Ryde on the island.

Walking along Ryde Pier

On the ferry ride on our way over to the Isle of Wight a couple of days ago, I’d picked up a magazine all about different things to do on the island.  Ella spotted an advert for The Christmas Imaginarium and insisted that we had to go.  She hates summer and was already counting down the days to autumn and Christmas by that point so we decided to indulge her.  She loved it in there and to be fair it was actually pretty cool – an entire shop dedicated to all things Christmas, all year round.  There was Christmas music playing, fake snow falling and every decoration, accessory and festive item you could possibly wish for on display.  We were only in there for about 15-20 minutes in total but it was worth it for the quirky fun and novelty factor.

The Christmas Imaginarium in Ryde

After our morning adventure we decided to stay a little bit more local for the afternoon.  It was a hot day, so another ice cream from ‘Milk It!’ was required to cool us down.  Bubblegum, candyfloss and cafe latte were the flavours of choice this time and again, all got the thumbs up.

From there we made our way to Dino Islands Adventure Golf at Sandham Gardens, which was literally a 1-minute walk from our accommodation.  As you’ve probably guessed, Dino Islands is an 18-hole dinosaur-themed crazy golf course.  The reason for the dinosaur theming is because this part of the Isle of Wight is famous for it’s fossils – you can find them on the beaches if you know what you’re looking for and there are specific tours you can take to learn more about the history and geography of the area.

The adventure golf course was actually a little more challenging than we’d anticipated and it ended up taking us about an hour to make our way around the whole thing in total.  It was really fun and relatively reasonable at £7 per adult and £5.50 per child.  We’d definitely have paid to play it again on another day if we’d have run out of things to do (which, of course, we didn’t – the Isle of Wight is packed full of activities and places to visit!).  Sandham Gardens is also home to a go-kart track and SkyNets (which are, essentially, enormous elevated trampolines) – both payable separately – plus an ice cream kiosk and an adventure playground.

Dino Islands Adventure Golf at Sandham Gardens

It was a gorgeous evening so I decided to go for a solo wander to explore beyond Sandown.  I walked along Sandown Esplanade and past Sandown Pier along the shoreline towards Shanklin, meandering leisurely past Central Beach, West Side Beach and Lake Beach, people watching as I went.  I got about halfway to Shanklin then headed up the cliffs to loop onto the clifftop walk (which had stunning views) before making my way back to the house through Sandown town.

Sandown Pier

I love finding little things like this when I go exploring

This beach hut made me smile

I love finding quirky things like this too!

Looking towards Shanklin from the clifftops

The view of Sandown from the clifftops

Part two of this blog post, covering the second half of our family holiday on the Isle of Wight, will be coming soon!

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