Free Summer Fun on the Isle of Wight

15 things to do on the Isle of Wight that are FREE

Coming to the Isle of Wight but need to keep to a budget?  As we live here we know there is plenty to do for ‘free’. 

Here are a few favourites:

  1. Beach Days are the Best Days – the Island hosts some of the best beaches in the country and they are all a little bit different. If we are going to go to the beach we have a top 3.  Appley,  Ryde is great for paddling and sand castles, plenty of parking and a cafe.  Compton is an Islanders favourite – more rural, dark sand and a bit of a walk from the car park.  Gurnard is perfect for paddle boarding, enjoying the sunshine and also a cafe and pub close by, but it is stony so beach shoes required.
  2. Walking on the Island can be breathtaking and has a real sense of adventure. There are over 500 miles of public rights of way.  Even on rainy days Parkhurst Forest offers parking and shelter and the opportunity to spot a Red Squirrel.  For a flat ‘pootle’ the Red Squirrel Trail is a relaxing and mostly sheltered walk or cycle – parking can get conjested at Blackwater but there are plenty of stops on the way to Sandown so you can plan your distance to suit your family.  The Tennyson Trail has to be one of the best view makers – the hike up from Freshwater Bay offers stunning views – really worth the ‘Are we there yets?’ Pack some treats for a reward at the top and don’t forget your camera.
  3. Counting butterflies – join the National Butterfly count. Pic a spot with wildflowers about 1m square and count the butterflies – you can submit your findings on line.  Headen Warren is a great place for seeing some of the rarer species.
  4. Birdwatching can be done from the hide at Newtown – traditionally you write what you see on a chalk board outside the hide so others can anticipate what might be about.
  5. Geocaching can be carried out using an app – there are lots of caches to be found all over the Isle of Wight. A proper treasure hunt – don’t forget you need to add some treasure before you take yours!
  6. Cycling – there is a round the Island route that is clearly signposted, once again you can pick a suitable route for your family. The cycle paths converted from the old railways offer the flattest options whereas some parts of the trail can be a bit challenging!
  7. Sunset Walks – one of the best is from Cowes to Gurnard where you can see the sun set over the sea.
  8. Crabbing – you would need to purchase a line and some bait but there are great spots to go crabbing – we like Yarmouth.
  9. Rockpooling – hours of fun for all when the tide has gone out – we like to go to Gurnard but Freshwater Bay is also great for rock pooling. Remember to take a bucket for your finds and release them before you go.
  10. Search for Dinosaurs. The Island has often been referred to as the Dinosaur Isle and is a great place to hunt for fossils along the coastline and you can even see the Dinosaur footprints at Compton when the tide is out.
  11. The Isle of Wight Guru offers his very own I Spy Isle of Wight – a family favourite although you can of course make your own up as you go along.
  12. RNLI stations are open to visitors for free but they do like a bit of a donation!
  13. Cowes Week – watch the sailing from the seafront at Cowes or Gurnard. Depending on conditions you may get quite close to the action.
  14. Quarr Abbey is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy the scenery, free parking is available and there are plenty of benches to sit on and you can see the pigs.
  15. Some of the most beautiful views may be found on the Isle of Wight, pack up some pencils and some paper and have fun drawing the views together.                                                                                                       If you have Historic House Membership you may visit Farringford Estate, English Heritage cards for Osborne & Carisbrooke, National Trust for Bembridge Windmill and Mottistone Gardens (among others).  Although not technically free you do not have to pay on the day that you visit.  Osborne is brilliant for the children to run free down to the beach, have a paddle and a quick ice-cream.  If you don’t fancy the hike back up the hill there is a mini bus but the children often love to stop at Swiss Cottage for the play area there. 

We hope this helps you plan your day trips on a budget – every little helps when you are entertaining the family!

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