IOW adventure holidays in Sandown: 18 of the best Isle of Wight activities

Sep 16, 2019 BY Luke Rees

Think the Isle of Wight is boring? Think again! IOW adventure holidays in Sandown offer many exciting things to do. In this article we find out why the best Isle of Wight activities in Sandown make this a surprisingly adventurous destination.

view of Culver Down from Yaverland sandown image copyright of

Why IOW adventures?

Better weather than the mainland combined with natural features and landscape make Sandown the perfect place to have an adventure. You can enjoy all sorts of activities suitable for all ages.

From having fun in the water to flying through the air, on two legs or two wheels, Sandown is more adventurous than most people realise. It is well set up for tourism with plenty of reasonably priced accommodation.

Sandown is home to enough pubs and restaurants to keep most people happy. Plus there is a pier, zoo, crazy golf and a dinosaur centre to keep kids entertained. Plus it was voted as the 2019 Countryfile beach of the year.

The Isle of Wight has a reputation for being sleepy, sedate and stuck in the 1950s. But this is unfair. It might not be as exciting and developed as other places but this ‘step back in time’ is part of its attraction.

Sandown pier image copyright of

There are a lot less chain restaurants, cafes, pubs or shops and a lot more independently owned businesses. Ultimately it still feels quaint, authentic and a little innocent.

Getting to the Isle of Wight

IOW adventure holidays in Sandown will always start with a short journey across the Solent. There are car ferries running from Southampton and Portsmouth plus a passenger only speed cat ferry from Portsmouth.

However the most exciting way to reach the Isle of wight is to get the hovercraft. As the last regular passenger hovercraft in the world it is a novel and very quick way to reach the island.

The 4.4 mile crossing from Southsea to Ryde run by Hovertravel takes less than ten minutes. In comparison, the speed cat passenger ferry takes twice as long and the car ferry four times longer.

journeying to IOW adventure holidays in Sandown by hovercraft

The journey is short but sweet as you fly across the water. There is ample parking near the Southsea terminal and at the other end you disembark near the train and bus station in Ryde.

A family of five can have a day return for £30 or a multi day return for £49. You’ll only get these rates if you book three or more days in advance and travel off peak.

A single booked on the day of travel costs £24.20. Find out more at

Best Isle of Wight activities

IOW adventure holidays in Sandown could be the perfect choice for an active family getaway, group of friends or even adventurous couples. Read on to find out what activities you can get involved in:

Surfing and bodyboarding

Surfing happens all along Sandown seafront. You can hire boards and take lessons, or turn up with your own gear. Some of the time it is more suited to kids bodyboarding than surf, but when surfs up it can be pretty good.

For a more reliable break head to Lake – located one mile down the coast between Shanklin and Sandown. Here at Dunroamin Beach you can find one of the island’s most reliable surf spots.

Don’t go expecting huge swells and massive breaks. It’s a great place to learn the basics, including catching a wave, standing up, line turns and cutbacks. And, depending on the conditions and your ability level, there is even some barrel riding too.


If conditions aren’t right for surfing then you can take to the water on a paddleboard. SUP has grown in popularity in recent years you can rent gear at the beach or arrange some lessons.

SUP on IOW adventure holidays in sandown image copyright of

Kiteboarding and Windsurfing

On a windy day you are pretty much guaranteed to see kiteboarders and windsurfers out on the water. There are kite and windsurf lessons and gear hire available year round.

Sandown Bay has a long sandy beach, with plenty of opportunity. It works well with east to south-west winds. Also an offshore wind can produce glassy flat water.

Dunroamin Beach is one of the best kite and windsurfing spots on the island. But Yaverland, at the northern end of Sandown Beach, is also popular – the White Air Extreme sports festival was held there for 12 years before relocating to Brighton.

Kayaking and canoeing

Similar to SUP you can hire kayaks or canoes to explore the coast. Lake and Yaverland are where most organised trips meetup. But if you have your own kayak you can set off from almost anywhere.

kayaking in Sandown one of the 18 best Isle of Wight activities

Scuba Diving

The Solent has been an important area for shipping for hundreds of years, so it is no surprise that there are many shipwrecks. There are at least four wrecks you can dive in Sandown Bay all including the popular HMS Boxer.


When you think of sailing and the Isle of Wight, Cowes immediately comes to mind. But while Cowes Week might be the oldest and largest sailing regatta in the world, there are other places to sail around the island.

At Yaverland Sailing & Boat Club you can hire small dinghies or take lessons. Also just a few miles down the road from Sandown you’ll find Shanklin Sailing Club.

Whether you’re an experienced sailor already or just keen to learn, conditions are often perfect. It is affordable and you can make it as technical or as fun as you like. Sailing has to be one of the best Isle of Wight activities.

Sailing in Sandown one of the 18 best Isle of Wight activities flickr CC image by ronsaunders47

Jet Skiing

While annoying for other beach goers Jet Skis are a lot of fun if you are the one riding them. They can be hired at a couple of points on Sandown Beach for a spot of high octane entertainment.


From Dunroamin Beach at Lake you can take a Powerboat Level 2 course or a safety boat course. Either is a great way to experience the thrill of high speed boating in some of the UK’s most beautiful waters.

Cycling and MTB

IOW adventure holidays in Sandown are not complete without some two wheel action. After all, there’s a good reason that the Lonely Planet guide named the Isle of Wight as one of the world’s top ten cycling destinations.

The sheer diversity of terrain means there is ample scope for road cycling, touring and mountain biking. And the island is covered with routes and trails. The 58 mile road cycling tour around the entire island is particularly popular.

There is cycling here for all levels of rider, from leisurely family rides along the coast to gruelling climbs and technical single track. You can either bring your own bikes or take advantage of the numerous hire and rental schemes around the island.

Cycling from Sandown to Newport image copyright of

The cycling infrastructure is superb, with well marked trails and routes to follow. From Sandown there is a fairly flat ride on an old railway track all the way to Newport. It’s perfect for families or less experiences cyclists and can easily be ridden there and back in a day.

There is an easy five-mile route around Sandown which passes through the wildlife-rich wetland areas around Eastern Yar. Or you can tackle some bigger hills and country lanes on the 12-mile circuit from nearby Shanklin.

Horse riding

The island may be ideal for exploring on two wheels but it’s also pretty good if you’re travelling on four legs. Hundreds of miles of bridleways traverse the island, some of which have been in use since the Stone Age.

There is also the chance to ride along some of the beaches at low tide, for a truly unforgettable experience. There are three stables within reach of Sandown making it one of the best Isle of Wight activities.

Walking and hiking

Whilst on IOW adventure holidays in Sandown you should also explore on foot. There are plenty of easy walks, such as heading the three miles on the coastal path to Shanklin. Alternatively walk up Culver Down at the far north of Sandown beach beyond Yaverland.

hiking up Culver Down Sandown image copyright of

Inland there is a Red Squirrel sanctuary set in lovely woodland. For a longer walk take the old railway track through to Newport.

Fancy something a little more challenging? Hike up to the grassy summit of Brading Down. At 130m this local nature reserve is the highest point in the area, so it has great views of Sandown Bay.

The 12.6km Nunwell Trail which runs inland via Brading Down all the way to Ryde is well worth a hike. You can link this together with the Sandown to Ryde coastal path which is around 19km and passes through Bembridge.


There are plenty of opportunities for exploring the island and the waters around it but what about seeing more from the air? The Isle of Wight’s climate escapes much of the low pressure you get on the mainland, meaning there are more days of the year you can paraglide.

One of the top spots on the island is at Ventnor, just down the coast from Sandown. There are experienced guides all licensed by the British Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association. Regular summer sea breezes create ideal conditions.

paragliding in cheverton one of the 18 best Isle of Wight activities image copyright of


For the ultimate adventure how about jumping from a plane? Skydive Isle of Wight offers tandem skydives over the Sandown Airfield, so you can expect fabulous views of the town and bay. There are regular jump dates throughout the summer but book early to avoid disappointment.

These are just some of the activities available on IOW adventure holidays in Sandown. You can pick and choose your options, creating the perfect activity holiday.

Want to try some of the best Isle of Wight activities? Then I recommend you travel by hovercraft: To plan a visit go to who we would like to thank for providing many of the images in this article.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related Articles


Gambling adventure travel: Best casino cities & activities available

Not all adventure holidays involve mountains, ocean or the great outdoors. City breaks with exciting activities and nightlife are hugely popular. So, we've decided...

Destinations: Asia Blue Mountains China +
Read Article

Deal of the week: 10% off 4 day trekking tour of Mont Blanc

Would you like to explore one of the world’s most iconic mountains on a multi-day hiking adventure? You can do just that with our deal of the week! During this...

Activities: Hiking Trekking
Destinations: Alps Aosta Chamonix +
Read Article

7 of the best student adventure travel destinations worldwide

You’re only young once, so you should always try and make the most of it. That’s why the below 7 best student adventure travel destinations worldwide are so...

Read Article

Newsletter sign up