An Isle Of Wight Family Holiday {Part 2)

In the summer holidays of August 2022 we drove down south from where we live in the Midlands, hopped on a ferry and headed across the Solent for an Isle of Wight family holiday.  We spent a week exploring the island and made lots of memories together, all of which I’ve added to the cluster of fond recollections I already had saved up in my head from a trip my Mum and I took there when I was a little girl.

I was so excited to return thirty years later and it more than lived up to what I was hoping for – it’s such a beautiful place.

An Isle of Wight Family Holiday

I had a long list of possibilities for places to go, things to do and sights to see on the Isle of Wight.  Of course we didn’t get anywhere close to doing everything – it would have taken us about a month in total rather than the short week we had there! We did manage to squeeze in a lot of fun activities though, as well as making time to relax in our home for the week.

This blog post covers all of the things we got up to in the second half of our time on the island.  You can read part one of our Isle of Wight family holiday blog post here.

The Isle of Wight is the perfect place for a traditional British seaside holiday


The day dawned rainy and a little cold, so we stayed in for the morning and planned what to do later in the day when the weather was set to brighten up a bit, as well as mapping out ideas for the rest of the week.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my Isle of Wight holiday as a child is a visit to Shanklin Chine and I was desperate to go back and show off it’s magic to the girls.  That’s where we decided to go once the skies cleared a little after lunch.

In my mind’s eye I could still see the impossibly steep pathways my Mum and I stumbled down, flanked on either side with impressively towering foliage and rare greenery, the distant thunder of waterfalls cascading down the sides of the gorge.  It’s funny how when you re-visit a significant place as an adult, everything and nothing seems to have changed at the same time.  All of the things I remembered were still there of course, and they were just as awe-inspiring as they were when I first viewed them through my 9 year old eyes.  They were just a little… smaller?

Shanklin Chine

There are two entrances to Shanklin Chine.  We parked our car in the pay-and-display car park in the Old Village at the top, and then made our way slowly down through the Chine, stopping to learn about both the geology (it’s been formed over the course of about 10,000 years) and the history (a top secret pipeline, called ‘PLUTO’ – Pipe Line Under The Ocean – was built down through the Chine during WW2, connecting the IoW with Cherbourg in France, through which petrol supplies were delivered to the Allies) of the gorge as we walked.

Once at the bottom, we wandered towards Shanklin Esplanade, passing by Fisherman’s Cottage – also fondly kown as ‘the pub on the beach’ which dates back to 1817 – with the plan to loop back up to the Old Village at the top via the town of Shanklin itself.  I think the route can be done in reverse and it’s possible to start at the beach entrance at the base and make your way up to the top through the Chine.  Each ticket gives you seven days of free re-entry to the Chine, as many times as you like, which seems incredibly reasonable to me.  We paid £32.50 for a 2 adult/3 child family ticket.  At night, Shanklin Chine is lit up with fairy lights – I would have love to have seen the illuminations, but we couldn’t quite work it into our plans.

My little tribe at Shanklin Chine

Exploring the pathways of Shanklin Chine, surrounded by rare plants and the sides of the gorge itself.

At the bottom of Shanklin Chine, almost at the beach

We ambled along the Esplanade, people-watching as we went, and keeping an eye out for Toppings – an ice cream parlour I’d discovered whilst researching the town, which came highly recommended.  For good reason as it turns out – the queue was long and it was worth the wait because Toppings has over fifty flavours of ice cream to choose from plus all the accompaniments you could possibly want.  Cookie dough, chocolate fudge brownie, Eton mess and honeycomb caramel swirl were the order of the day for us and they were delicious.  We’d go back again for sure.

Toppings is part of Shanklin Seafront, which is essentially a traditional seaside amusement park stretched out along the promenade.  There is an arcade; two outdoor adventure golf courses (dinosaur-themed ‘Jurassic Bay’ and shipwreck-themed ‘Pirates Cove’); an indoor crazy golf course; bouncy castles; trampolines; go-karts; and so much more.  The girls were over it and ready to go back to our base by this point but if we ever return to the Isle of Wight (hopefully we will one day) we’ll definitely spend some time here.

I loved this neon sign inside Toppings Ice Cream Parlour

Eating our ice creams by the beach at Shanklin Seafront

We had a chilled evening at our accommodation, reading and watching TV, but I snuck out on my own to capture this sunset at the beach just over the road from where we were staying.  The sea turned completely pink from the reflections of the sky.  Look how magical it was!

Sunset at Sandown Beach



Then, the very next morning, I was treated to this stunning sunrise.  Early morning beach walks quickly became a highlight of our Isle of Wight family holiday for me.

Sunrise at Sandown Beach

We decided to head inland towards the centre of the island this morning, for an excursion with a difference:  the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary.  Lola in particular was VERY excited to visit and declared that she wanted to meet all 122 resident donkeys.  There is plenty of (free) parking, and entry to the Donkey Sanctuary is also free, although donations are encouraged (we gave one of course) as it is a charity that relies on donations, fundraising and adoptions so that it can keep doing it’s wonderful work.

The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a really lovely place.  The donkeys were all very well cared for and clearly loved, and they each had plenty of space and company for one another.  On our arrival we were given a sheet with every donkey’s name and photo on and we had the mission to see if we could find them all (spoiler alert: we didn’t – some were hiding inside their barns).  We did find a ‘Lola’, a ‘Geraldine’ (my Mum’s name) and a ‘Jackie’ (my mother-in-law’s name) though!

We were there for about an hour and a half in total, though we could probably have stayed longer.  We read each donkey’s rescue story, all of which were shared on display boards pinned to the fences as we walked around.  Some of them were so sad – rescued from abuse and slaughter on the Isle of Wight, the UK mainland and abroad.  I felt glad that they now had such a happy home to live in.

We didn’t go in the cafe to have anything to eat or drink but I peeked in and it looked good.  It was a really heart-warming way to spend the morning, especially as it was something different to what we would usually do, and I highly recommend paying the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary a visit.

Walking around the Donkey Trail, trying to spot the donkey’s names from our list.

Lola fell in love with this little donkey called Myra

A chilled out beach afternoon was called for after our exciting morning excursion, especially as it was such beautiful weather.  Of course we got an ice cream from our usual place (‘Milk It!’ on Sandown Esplanade) first – millionaire’s shortbread, rocky road and honeycomb caramel were today’s flavours of choice.

Sandown Beach has incredibly soft sand that’s a delight to walk on and to dig giant holes in, yet is not so good for building sandcastles, much to the girls’ dismay.  Mimi and Lola wanted to swim so they headed into the sea with Neil (squealing dramatically at the seaweed!) whilst Ella and I went for a wander around some of the shops in town that we’d not had the chance to explore yet.

I can never resist drawing a heart in the sand at the beach

Heading into the water for a (chilly!) swim

I couldn’t resist popping out across the road to the beach in the evening again when I spotted the sky turning pink.  The sunsets (and sunrises) on the island really are gorgeous.  I’d love to know what these two friends peacefully fishing together were chatting about.

“Pink sky at night, shepherd’s delight”- another beautiful sunset from the beach


The old saying was true – after last night’s pink sky, the day dawned with a glorious sunrise which I managed to sneak out and capture whilst the husband and teens were still sleeping.  Once awake, the girls requested another trip to the arcade (Ella and Mimi wanted to try their hand at winning a cuddly toy from the claw-grab machine like Lola did earlier on in the week) so I left them to it and walked solo along the Esplanade all the way to Shanklin, enjoying people-watching and taking in the breeze and the sunshine.

Almost at Shanklin, looking back along the Esplanade towards Sandown

Having stayed local for the morning, we decided to explore a little further afield in the afternoon. We made our way up to Osborne House near Cowes on the north-eastern corner of the island, booking our tickets online first through the English Heritage website.  Osborne House was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s holiday home and they spent a great deal of time here during her reign and beyond.

I’m not usually much of a history fan but I found the whole place absolutely fascinating, mostly because the Queen and the Prince were avid documenters of their lives.  They took photographs and had paintings made of what they called ‘birthday tables’, where all the gifts were displayed each year before being opened.  I absolutely love that!  Every room was so ornate and the condition of everything was excellent – you really got a sense and a feel for what it would have been like to live there.  My favourite room was the Durbar Room, which was decorated in an Indian style due to the close relationship Queen Victoria had with the country.  It was incredibly intricate and spectacularly beautiful – I could have stayed in there for hours examining every tiny detail.

Gotta have a mirror selfie of all five of us!

The Indian-inspired Durbar room at Osborne House

Once we were finished inside we headed out to explore the grounds and gardens, which were stunning.  We made our way down to the private beach (where all nine of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s children learned to swim) for an ice cream and a paddle, before moving on to see Swiss Cottage, where there were countless numbers of collections of all sorts of interesting artefacts and fascinating objects that the family came into possession of during their lifetime.

Osborne House is well worth a visit and you get a lot for the entry fee (we paid £49.40 for a 2A/3C family ticket, so just under £10 per person).  There are also two adventure playgrounds and a cafe there so you could easily make a whole day of it instead of limiting it to an afternoon like we did.  Highly recommend.

The gardens at Osborne House

Ella taking in the views

Walking down through the grounds towards the beach

There is a little cafe selling cakes and drinks and ice creams down by the beach

Queen Victoria’s private beach, with views across the Solent looking back towards the mainland.

Fish and chips for dinner back at our accommodation finished the day off perfectly.



The final full day of our Isle of Wight family holiday might just have been my favourite.  The sunrise was the most spectacular one yet and I spent ages at the beach, snapping photos at first as the colours continued to shift and change, and then sitting on the wall and just taking it all in quietly, feeling very lucky that we’d been able to visit this beautiful place.

The most spectacular sunrise I’ve seen for a long time

We decided to have one last adventure of our Isle of Wight family holiday, so we headed out in the morning to find Steephill Cove, on the south of the island near-ish to Ventnor.  If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, you must seek out this gorgeous place.  Part of me is a little hesitant to share about it, because it’s so well hidden that it almost feels like a secret that only the locals know about and I don’t want to spoil it, whilst another part of me wants to shout about it from the rooftops because the little businesses that are there absolutely deserve to thrive and I think it’s a place that everyone needs to experience at least once.

We parked the car and walked, down Zig-Zag Road (yes, really!) and then through a little side alley that led to a flight of steep steps which took us down towards the beach.  I actually gasped out loud when we saw the cove below us.

This gorgeous, happy mural was on a wall in the car park we parked in!

Steephill Cove is a tiny cluster of houses and little businesses right next to the beach.  The tide was almost all the way in whilst we were there so I’m not sure how big the beach is when it’s out, but there are rocky outcrops to explore, there’s space to build sandcastles, a cafe to get ice creams and drinks and meals and not forgetting the expanse of sparkly blue water to admire.

I can only imagine what the sunrises and sunsets are like there – I bet they’re indescribably beautiful.   We spent an hour or two there in total: the girls played in the sand and ate their ice creams whilst I wandered and people-watched and got chatting with a local man called Stephen, who told me all about the family of ravens who visit the cove every single day in search of food.  He pointed them out to me as they swooped around the cliffs.  I’d love to go back again when the tide is out to see what a difference there is and to explore more of this unique and quirky little corner of the island.

Steephill Cove – such a stunning place

There were lots of quirky little corners I’d have loved to explore further

A (slightly windswept!) family selfie on the beach at Steephill Cove

Once back at our accommodation, we spent the evening packing and getting ready for our journey home the next day.  I took one last walk to the beach to say goodbye to the sea, as is our tradition, feeling more than a little sad that our Isle of Wight family holiday was over.



I’d booked one of the first ferries back to the mainland from Yarmouth and we were treated to a spectacular sunrise as we waited to board.  The journey back to Lymington was easy and passed quickly enough, a few other sleepy-eyed families mixed in with commuters who were making the crossing with us.

The spectacular sunrise from Yarmouth Pier, as we waited for our early morning ferry to arrive to take us back to the mainland

On our long journey home back up to the Midlands I asked everyone what their favourite part of our Isle of Wight family holiday had been.  Ella (our resident history buff) loved Osborne House; Mimi enjoyed the time we spent at the beach; Lola’s favourite activity was the Donkey Sanctuary; Neil liked the crazy golf course; and my favourite was Steephill Cove.

There was so much more we wanted to see and do, including:

  • Carisbrooke Castle
  • The Needles
  • Freshwater Bay
  • Robin Hill
  • Blackgang Chine
  • The floating bridge and chain ferry in Cowes
  • Appledurcombe House
  • Mottistone National Trust
  • Devil’s Chimney walk
  • Tapnell Farm Park
  • Pirates Cove Adventure Golf in Shanklin
  • Gurnard Bay (the best place for sunsets apparently!)
  • Godshill Model Village
  • Wildheart Animal Sanctuary
  • Ventnor Botanic Gardens
  • Butterfly World
  • Isle of Wight Steam Railway…

…the list goes on!  We also picked out a few places we want to try for food:  The Lifeboat; The Spyglass Inn; The Piano Cafe; and The Wight Mouse Inn for dinner, plus Comicafe for milkshakes and cakes (there are branches in both Newport and Cowes).

Needless to say, we absolutely loved our Isle of Wight family holiday. There’s so much to see and do there – it reminded us a lot of our trip to Jersey in 2016 – and we thoroughly recommend the island as a fantastic place to go for a family holiday, whether your kids or toddlers or teens, or even for multiple generations.  We’ll be back again for a return visit one day, for sure.

More Posts

Be first to comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.