The Isle of Wight is a wonderful place to visit by campervan. With low-stress roads, rolling countryside and mile after mile of beautiful coastline, this is a truly memorable place to visit.
The island atmosphere and fresh air are incredibly relaxing, and there’s no shortage of great attractions to explore.
Why not make the Isle of Wight your next campervan destination? Make sure you have reliable campervan insurance before heading off on your adventure!
What’s special about the Isle of Wight?
If you’ve spotted the Isle of Wight on a map before but never visited, you have a real treat in store. Located in the English Channel, 4 miles from the coast of Hampshire, the island has a rich history and culture.
The landscape is stunning, with glorious green countryside inland and a varied chalk shoreline with white chalk cliffs that set off a sunset beautifully.
The unique microclimate of the island allows plants to grow here that you won’t find on the mainland, and if you’re lucky you might spot a red squirrel or two – grey squirrels haven’t conquered the island yet!
The history of the island is fascinating, from ancient military uses to being a Victorian playground enjoyed by the cream of 19th century society, including Queen Victoria herself.
There are also plenty of good old-fashioned seaside spots where you can indulge in a paddle and a splash on the fruit machines.
How do you get to the Isle of Wight?
You will need to take your campervan on a ferry crossing to reach the Isle of Wight. There are several choices for the crossing:
Wightlink from Portsmouth to Fishbourne
This service takes you across the Solent in around 45 minutes, dropping you at Fishbourne on the north of the island.
Red Funnel from Southampton to East Cowes
This service takes around one hour, leaving Southampton hourly in peak season.
Wightlink from Lymington to Yarmouth
The speediest vehicle crossing to the Isle of Wight leaves Lymington in the New Forest, taking just 30 minutes. The ferry has amazing views of the coastline before reaching its destination on the western side of the island.
To give you a rough idea of how long it takes to reach the departure ports from different places in the UK, you could reach a port from London in 1hr 40min, from Birmingham in 2hr 40min, from Sheffield in 3hr 40min or from Bristol in 1hr 45min.
It usually pays to book your ferry in advance where possible – you pay more if you turn up on the day, and run the risk of the crossing being fully booked.
You should have an idea of the height and length of your campervan before arriving at the ferry port, including any additional fixtures such as bike racks. Campervan insurance will be able to help you cover the financial costs of an accident during the crossing.
Unlike taking a ferry crossing to the continent, you won’t need to pack your passport when you go to the Isle of Wight, but remember to take your driving licence and campervan insurance documents with you in case you need to make a claim.
What is there to see on the Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight is a gem of a destination for a campervan trip. It has just the right mix of adventure and relaxation – coastal walks, heritage sites, sandy beaches and bustling towns.
Plus, being an island gives Wight a laid-back vibe that’s hard to find on the mainland. There are plenty of places to camp, the views are breathtaking and the driving is a breeze.
On the subject of driving, the Isle of Wight has no motorways. It has one dual carriageway with a short stretch where you might just rattle along above 60mph for a few seconds (if your camper can achieve that!) but generally, this is an island where it’s fine to take your time.
The roads are a little bumpy and winding, but this all adds to the charm. As long as you take it steady and you’ve got good campervan insurance in place, there’s nothing to worry about.
Let’s look at what you might want to do on this amazing island.
Isle of Wight visitor attractions
For a small island, the Isle of Wight definitely fits in a lot of great visitor attractions. Of course, most visitors come to have a welcome break on a beach, watching the waves and enjoying an ice cream or two.
When you’re ready to pack up the deck chair and see some sights, why not give these a go?
The Needles, Alum Bay
No visit to the Isle of Wight is complete without seeing the island’s most famous landmark, the Needles. These jagged white chalk rocks jut out of the sea, with a picturesque lighthouse poised at one end. Enjoy a chairlift up the cliffs while you’re there, and don’t miss a glass demonstration in Alum Bay, where natural rock formations produce sand in a rainbow spectrum of colours.
Osborne House, Cowes
Queen Victoria’s palatial retreat gives you a sense of the grandeur enjoyed by royals in the past. With sumptuous interiors, a peaceful woodland walk and beautiful gardens, you’ll feel transported to an earlier time.
Ventnor Botanic Gardens
This extraordinary site enjoys its own microclimate, thanks to its unique geography – it’s more akin to the Mediterranean than rainy Britain. This means the gardens can grow exotic plants that would struggle elsewhere in the UK like palm trees, cacti, tree ferns and more.
Bembridge Fort, Sandown
Bembridge is rich in military history. Positioned on top of dramatic chalk cliffs overlooking the sea, the site has 19th century remains as well as fortifications from World War I. Even if military history is not your thing, you’ll love a good walk amid breathtaking scenery.
Carisbrooke Castle, Newport
The Isle of Wight’s location has always made it an important place for defense and fortification. Carisbrooke Castle was built more than 1,000 years ago. It was used by the Saxons, Normans, and remodelled by Queen Elizabeth I. Famously, the castle was used as a prison for King Charles I before his execution. It’s a fascinating place to explore.
Blackgang Chine, Ventnor
If you’re travelling with children, they’re sure to love this pirate-themed park with pirate ships, life-sized moving dinosaurs, fairground rides and more. The park is set in a beautiful cliff-top location, meaning you can enjoy stunning views in between rollercoaster rides and pirate encounters.
Towns on the island
The longest trip you can take on the Isle of Wight, from Alum Bay at the western tip of the land to Bembridge in the far east, takes less than an hour.
This is not an island where you are going to get very lost! If you do decide to take your sat nav, make sure you have the right insurance for your campervan to cover loss or theft of electronic devices.
Because of the island’s size and layout, it’s not too hard to reach any other part, with journey times averaging less than 30 minutes.
So although choosing your base is important, you’re not ruling out a trip to other sites on the island by picking a campsite in one particular place.
Sandown and Shanklin
These towns on the south-east coast serve up a classic British seaside experience, with sandy beaches, amusement parades, minigolf and more fish and chips than you can shake a stick at. They’re not exactly tranquil and get crowded in summer, but if nostalgia is your thing or you have small children, these are really fun towns to visit.
South Wight - Ventnor, St Lawrence, Bonchurch, Blackgang and Niton
The southern stretch of the island’s coastline was very popular in Victorian times, with a health resort based in Ventnor. These days it’s a sleepier, dreamier place with a sheltered beach and lots of vintage shops. The roads can be steep and curvy, making it slightly harder to explore in a campervan.
West Wight - Yarmouth, Freshwater, Totland, Colwell and Brighstone
If you’re looking for peace and greenery rather than seaside antics, the western side of the isle could be right for you. There are lots of walks to be had beside romantic cliffs and trips into picture-perfect villages.
Cowes, Newport and Ryde
Renowned for its annual sailing regatta, Cowes on the north coast is a handsome place to watch the world go by and imagine you’re a millionaire on a yacht. Newport and Ryde are the island’s biggest towns and main shopping centres. Newport is inland but Ryde has a seafront and attractions.
East Wight - Bembridge, Seaview and St Helens
The eastern end of the island is perhaps the prettiest stretch of coastline, with prices rising accordingly as it’s become a playground for the yachting set. You’ll be able to spot some knock-out beach houses as you trundle along in your campervan, as well as watching the sailing boats whip along on the sea.
Where to camp
Once you have a rough idea which side of the island you want to be on, or whether you want to be close to a particular town, you can start browsing for campsites. Here is just a small selection of the corking campsites on offer:
The Orchards Holiday Park, Yarmouth
This deluxe campsite is located at the western end of the island. It offers an outdoor pool with a poolside cafe, sheltered garden conservatory, and excellent washing and laundry facilities – all with underfloor heating. The views are wonderful and it makes a great touring base.
Nodes Point Holiday Park, Ryde
This park combines spectacular coastal views with great on-site attractions, including a pool and playpark. If you fancy treating yourself to a little glamping after many nights in your campervan, why not hire a romantic safari tent? The camp is close to St Helen’s beach and Priory Bay for walks and sun lounging.
Old Barn Touring Park, Sandown
This family-run park makes the perfect base for exploring Sandown and Shanklin. While these towns can get busy in summer, you’ll have a peaceful green place to camp when you want to get away from it all. There’s plenty of space and lovely views, and you can use the 17th century listed barn onsite as a games room.
Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park, Bembridge
This highly rated holiday park has its own secluded beach on the popular east coast of the island, helping you enjoy the landscape while escaping the crowds in busier spots. Pitches are fully serviced and you can bring your dog, too.
Ninham Country Holidays, Shanklin
This 12-acre camp allows visitors lots of space to spread out and enjoy the coastal views and mature trees onsite. There’s a heated outdoor swimming pool and the site facilities use rainwater harvesting and solar/thermal to reduce the carbon footprint.
This family-run site on a working farm is just off the scenic Military Road. It has an assortment of cute animals to admire, including alpacas, a pony, a horse, a donkey, chickens and a water buffalo. There’s a beach close by and epic sea views – what more could you want?
Foods to try on the Isle of Wight
Food lovers will not be disappointed in the culinary delights of the Isle of Wight. As you’d expect, the island makes the most of its marine location by serving up the finest seafood and fish – pick up some fresh crab if you get the chance.
The fresh produce on the island is especially luscious. It’s an ideal tomato-growing climate and other specimens ripen earlier than on the mainland, including tasty asparagus and new potatoes.
Black garlic is another Isle of Wight speciality you have to try. Cooked for a long time on a low heat, the garlic turns black and sweet, a little like balsamic vinegar. It’s so yummy and caramelised that you’ll want to scatter it on your dessert!
Of course, the south coast is famous for its belly-busting cream teas. Why not try the unashamedly nostalgic Lady Scarlett’s Tea Parlour in Ventnor Bay on the south coast? Festooned with union jacks, old photos and vintage signs, it’s a very cosy place to butter up a scone.
Don’t forget the basics like campervan insurance
While you’re planning your Isle of Wight camping trip, don’t forget to check your campervan insurance covers everything you plan to do as well as the contents of your van.
Why not contact Motorhome Protect for a campervan insurance quote today?
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.