Blue seas, multi coloured sands and micro climates are the draw – but when you get there, there’s much more to do on the Isle of Wight. A traditional holiday destination with a 21st century twist, the island offers as much in the way of shopping and bar hopping as it does Victorian charm or heritage sites.
Obviously the type of shopping you do depends on who – and where – you are: for example, if you’ve landed for the legendary Isle of Wight festival then you’ll be shopping at trendy hippie stalls in the onsite markets, and bar hopping your way around vast open air gig venues. If, on the other hand, you’ve come for a romantic break or a family holiday, you are more likely to head to Ryde or Cowes – in which case you’ll experience modern shopping in traditional surroundings, with the chance of a livener at some of the bars sprinkling the streets and alleyways.
Lots of the restaurantsand bars on the island command a sea view – and there is a range of styles to choose from. As you’re on holiday, a bit of local colour would seem to be the order of the day: so a good start is the Priory Bay Hotel, which offers food and drink in a variety of bars or restaurants. Dine outside or inside, and wander down to the private beach of the Bay itself.
Sandown provides plenty of themed high street shopping experiences – for instance, Fields Menswear, which stocks a full range of surf and outdoor themed men’s clothing so holidaymakers can fit right in with the environment! Shopping in Cowes also offers up a selection of appropriate brands, including large numbers of yachting and sailing oriented outfitters and clothing stores.
Back to bars again – and the Driftwood beach bar and grill in Sandown is the right place to be for a relaxed evening of eating and drinking in the beach bum style! A tempting menu plus a spectacular beachside location make this a must for every holidaymaker.
For the young adults, the Lloyds No 1 in Newport serves a good range of burgers and American style food by day, and turns into a fun discotheque at night. Halfway between a bar and a club, it’s a great place to see and be seen with holidaymakers of your own age. Owned by the Wetherspoons group, the Lloyds offers an atmosphere ideally suited to the younger holidaymaker.
There are, of course, a number of proper seaside pubs on the island too. If you’re after some local colour, head for the nearest harbour and the closest inn at hand – every welcoming light should give way to a genuine fisherman’s haven! The Bargeman’s Rest in Newport; the Hare and Hounds in Downend; and the Spyglass Inn at Ventnor all offer the right atmosphere and a good selection of drinks.
From craft shops and driftwood style gifts stores to watermen and women’s outfitters, there are plenty of special shops on the isle of Wight. When you’re tired of shopping, relax at one of the island’s bars and enjoy the sights.
Mark Curtis and his family have lived on the Isle of Wight since 2004. In this blog Mark shares his local knowledge and favourite Island spots – helping you locate some of the island’s best features and hidden gems. Mark owns Wight Locations, a self-catering holiday cottage company with rental properties across the island.