You will need:
Some walking shoes
Swimming attire and beach shoes
A good book
Ventnor is a traditional yet small Victorian seaside town on the south-east coast of the island. Lying south of St Boniface Down, which is the highest point of the island, Ventnor is built on the steep clay slopes that lead down to the town’s beach. The Down acts as a shelter for the town and provides a microclimate, meaning more sunshine than the mainland, even than the rest of the island!
With the arrival of the Victorian steam railway in 1866, the small fishing village grew into one of the country’s favourite holiday destinations and its unique climate meant it became a leading Victorian health resort. Having attracted writers and artists since the Victorian era, Ventnor continues to thrive as a base for creative talent.
There’s so much to do around the town and the outlying villages that you could take a week to explore, but here’s a good starter itinerary.
1 Park at La Falaise carpark, just west of the main town. From here head south-west along the coastal path towards Steephill Cove (note, the name of the destination is ‘steephill’ so expect a reasonable, but easily manageable descent along the path and steps).
If you have little ones with you, explore the dinosaur maze on the right just past the car park.
The Times lists Steephill Cove as one of its 20 best hidden beaches in the UK. Its quaint pretty little fisherman cottages are distinctly reminiscent of a Cornish model-village, with lots of little signs everywhere you look. On a weekday afternoon hope for a haven of tranquillity, whilst at the weekend or school holiday, expect a little more action.
2 Hire a stripy deckchair, get out your book and relax for a few minutes on the shingle beach, taking in the sights and smells of the tiny little cove.
Or have a gentle stroll past the picture postcard lobster pots and beach huts.
3 Hire a kayak or board from Steephill Cove Kayaks and explore the nearby coastline.
4 Time for a spot of lunch or a snack, and there’s a great choice of beach restaurants and quirky cafes in Steephill Cove:
For a Mediterranean style restaurant, head to the Boathouse. What could be more fantastic than a glass of chilled wine over a lazy summer lunch on the outdoor terrace overlooking the cove? Specials include the freshest caught local fish and seafood.
The Beach Shack licenced café is also an amazing Mediterranean experience with a covered terrace and outdoor patio almost on the water’s edge. Speciality dishes include homemade crab tart or crab soup flavoured with Thai spices.
Continuing with the crab theme, the Crab Shed sells delicious crab pasties & mackerel ciabattas, has tables and chairs on the beach front, and is also licenced.
If you just want a quick snack, the Cove Coffee Shop has wide range of refreshments with outdoor tables and chairs overlooking the beach.
5 Walk back towards Ventnor retracing your steps along the coastal path. In this direction you will see the stunning views of Ventnor town bay in the distance. Once you reach the carpark, head down towards the beach front.
6 Ventnor beach has everything available to hire for a comfortable afternoon with your book including deckchairs, sunloungers, windbreaks and bathing huts, just pop along to Jim Bobs tea hut. The sand/fine shingle beach is idea for paddling and swimming.
7 Stroll along the Esplanade towards the Fisheries Haven where you can pick up some fish, crab or lobster for dinner. If you have little ones with you, let them splash around in the Isle of Wight shaped paddling pool opposite the Haven, whilst you sit and watch from the Besty and Spinkys Café alongside the pool.
8 Stroll back along the Esplanade towards the car park, stopping off at the iconic Spyglass Inn for a sundowner. Set up on the cliff at the end of the beach, the outdoor waterside terrace offers stunning views of Ventnor beach right around the bay. Inside the pub, although very dark, the smuggler and pirate theme can captivate the little ones.
If you still have time and energy head to the town centre for a spot of shopping. The walk from the Esplanade up is steep but manageable. Alternatively, drive round and park opposite Tesco.
All restaurants feature on our Where to eat on the IOW guide