Recommended attractions to visit on The Isle of Wight - from a personal perspective

Isle of Wight Zoo

There is so much to do on The Isle of Wight

It is sometimes difficult to quickly find somewhere that would meet the visitors tastes and when there are dozens of attractions in the yearly Isle of Wight Summer pocket guide, these may create too much choice!

So these are places that someone rather than a guide book has recommended, hence our list below. It is in no way a complete guide, because a place is not mentioned it does not mean that it is not recommended, it may be that we simply haven't got round to seeing it yet or we have and it has not impressed us enough to be featured here.

To look in a particular area see Map page. Something to do apart from visiting attractions? see Things to do.

Owl and Monkey HavenNr Newport. The Owl and Monkey Haven has recently been created to provide a safe, happy environment for primates and birds of prey who find themselves without a home. The Haven is a family-run self-built project and recently received a Gold award from the Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2011 for Best small visitor attraction. Reasonably priced attraction, Tea room, childrens play area, gift shop and the Wise Owl Learning Center for groups and schools.

Our favourite monkey was 'Fudge' - a monkey with a bad hair day!. Good disabled access. PO30 2NB

Visit: www.owlandmonkeyhaven.co.uk

Fudge from Owl and Monkey Haven

Amazon World Zoo ParkNewchurch {off A3056}. A large selection of Tropical Birds and animals/insects and some reptiles within this Amazon Rainforest attraction with a difference.

Wear light or loose clothing from the start! it is very warm indeed in parts of the building. Good falconry displays are held daily and there is a Jurassic themed adventure park outside for the more energetic of us. Cafe and picnic areas available.

New for 2004 was an indoor large bat enclosure dimly lit with Pharaohs and tombs as the setting. Gift shops, one for the children with the usual 'stuff' in and one for the adults just past the Cafe'. Conservation issues are clearly explained. Disabled access. All weather attraction. More pictures. Map ref: 1 - PO36 0LX

Visit www.amazonworld.co.uk a really good website.

Amazon WorldBirdFalconry and owl displays

Blackgang Chine Fantasy ParkBlackgang nr Niton. Blackgang Chine was one of the first holiday attractions of Great Britain and has had to change over the years and coupled with its natural beauty this makes it a unique fantasy park. A favourite especially for young children. There is so much to do and look at here allow at least half a day.

From Weather Wizards to Nursery Rhyme Characters to the {slightly} scary Rumpus Mansion and Cowboy Town where you can lock up your kids in the Sheriffs jail, there is lots to see and do. A pleasant walk that is usually different from one year to the next because of the effects of Landslip, also popular with the larger children is the water slide. Cafe's and picnic areas available. What are Chines?

Return visits are allowed within 7 days for FREE using your entry ticket, which is very useful - use this to your advantage. Also a combined Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill ticket may be purchased. Disabled access. More pictures. Map ref: 2 - PO38 2HN

Visit www.blackgangchine.com

"The Crooked House", Blackgang Chine"Cliffhanger" at blackgang ChineEntrance to Blackgang Chine

Fort Victorianr Yarmouth. Several small exhibitions present good value amongst this old Fort, our favourite was the Aquarium! A safe walk can be had on top of the Fort itself to take in the view and air. Picnic area and cafe with the adjacent small beach which is excellent for unusual stones and the like - for those that like beachcombing! Very little sand on the beach.

Fort Victoria is situated at the end of an imaginary line drawn from Yarmouth's Ferry terminal to a Westward direction for 0.85 miles. There is a woodland walk next to the old fort as well, where you may see a red squirrel. More pictures. Map ref: 3 - PO41 0RR

Visit: www.fortvictoria.co.uk/

Fort VictoriaAquarium

The Needles Pleasure ParkAlum Bay. The famous Needles area has a few small attractions and exhibitions and gifts for young and old. It is FREE to enter the park once you have paid to park your car, nice chairlift down to Alum Bay sands where the many different coloured sands can be seen here, or there are lots of steps instead for the weary of heights. Alum Bay glass in here too as well as Alum Bay sand shop where you can 'fill your own' ornament with sand if you wish.

Views of the surroundings and of course The Needles, also recommended is a boat trip to The Needles. Bus trips from here up to The Needles Battery. Cafe and restaurant with bar. More pictures. Map ref: 4 - PO39 0JD

Visit: www.theneedles.co.uk

The Needles LighthouseAlum Bay

Dinosaur Isle Sandown - at the end of The Esplanade past the Zoo. Open all year, life sized Dinosaur exhibition with educational activities along the way, all under one roof. All weather attraction. Map ref: 5 - PO36 8QA

Visit: www.dinosaurisle.com

The Garlic FarmNewchurch. Great for all things Garlic! This Garlic Farm and shop is FREE to enter with a new adjacent licensed Cafe' as well. Parking places opposite the farm across the lane, and an extra car park past the entrance on the left. See the different types of garlic here as well as many edible delights for those that like the great taste and smell of garlic including garlic ice cream! More pictures.

The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival is held every year in August. Map ref: 8 - PO36 0NR

Visit: www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk/

The Garlic FarmFresh garlic!

Carisbrooke CastleCarisbrooke nr Newport. An excellent castle where Charles 1 was imprisoned, many things to do here inside and outside the Castle especially on a fine day. A museum within the Castle {Free} - keep to climb - two deep Medieval wells - donkeys - castle walls to explore {carefully} - Church - visitors centre - grass areas within and outside the castle walls - perimeter footpath - Cafe'. Great views of Carisbrooke and the surrounding countryside, Princess Beatrice Garden is a new addition to enjoy within the Castle walls. More pictures. Map ref: 9 - PO30 1XY

Visit: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Carisbrooke Castle Wheel HouseView from The Keep, Carisbrooke Castle

Calbourne Water Mill and Rural MuseumCalbourne - near Newport. Pleasant 17th Century working watermill with rural museum and gardens. Cafe and gift shop. War museum, Gran'Ma's kitchen and launderette with kitchen equipment from 1800's to mid 1900's. Old Bakery, Dairy and forge. 18 hole putting green adjacent to a Carp pond with punts available for hire. Keep an eye out for: Doves, Peacocks, Dormice, Bats, Red Squirrels, Ducks, Chickens, Blue and Rainbow Trout and Eels. Map ref: 7 - PO30 4JN

Visit: www.calbournewatermill.co.uk

Calbourne Water Mill and Museum

Shanklin ChineShanklin Old Village AND from Shanklin South Beach next to The Fisherman's Cottage pub. This is a historic gorge {or chine} from upper Shanklin Old Village to the lower Shanklin beach or Fisherman's Cottage Pub. Waterfalls and unique plants survive this micro-climate as well as a small section of P.L.U.T.O. [pipeline under the ocean]. Not really suitable for the disabled from the top anyway although limited access is allowed from the lower entrance. Viewpoint, illuminated on summer evenings.

Access is also possible from the bottom of The Chine next to The Fisherman's Cottage pub. The Heritage Centre has information, displays, and a running video explaining the laying of the P.L.U.T.O. amongst other things. Tea room and gift shop. What are Chines? More pictures. Map ref: 10 - PO37 6PH

Visit: www.shanklinchine.co.uk

Shanklin Chine's Tea Room and MuseumShanklin Chine lower entrance

The Model VillageGodshill. A really good Model Village set in one of the most picturesque real villages on the Island. Handy for a quick amusement amongst many good gift shops and tea gardens this village has to offer, and the entrance fee is quite reasonable. Try to visit on a glorious day. Gift shop. No parking here or nearby, please use designated visitor parking area for Godshill. More pictures. Map ref: 11- PO38 3HH

Visit: www.www.modelvillagegodshill.co.uk

Model ChurchModel Village entrance

St. Catherine's LighthouseNiton. Recently re-opened to the public with guided tours of this 1840's Lighthouse on the Islands most southerly point. It is not possible to park near the lighthouse, visitors have to park at the top of the hill and walk down a lane. Still worth a pleasant walk even if not visiting the lighthouse itself. Check opening times - these vary most months of the year. More pictures. Map ref: 12

Visit: www.trinityhouse.co.uk

St Catherine's LighthouseSt Catherine's tower

Osborne House East Cowes. Interesting large house and grounds of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Excellent tours around the house, the Victorian walled garden and The Swiss play cottage and Prince Albert's Barracks can be seen as well. House and grounds can be viewed seperatly or together. Maintained by English Heritage. More pictures. Map ref: 13 - PO32 6JX

Visit: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Osborne HouseOsborne terrace gardensSwiss Chalet

Robin Hill Adventure Park Arreton. This is the sister park to Blackgang Chine and is set in 88 acres of downland and woods. Probably appeals to slightly older children than Blackgang Chine because of it's vastness and larger rides. T.I.M.E. machine is a favourite, a motion platform cinema. Tree Top Trail and The Squirrel Tower are also favourites for kids with a head for heights! Quarter mile Toboggon ride is also great for adults as well.

Great for a walk here amongst woodland and you may see a red squirrel here, we did! Red squirrel live cam as well as pre-recorded activity. Cafe's. More pictures. Map ref: 14 - PO30 2NU

visit: http://www.robin-hill.com

Robin Hill CabinToboggan rideSlides

Bembridge Windmillnr Bembridge. The Islands only surviving windmill owned and maintained by The National Trust. Limited parking nearby, small gift shop, opening times vary according to season. Located just off B3395 about half a mile South of Bembridge. Map ref: 16 - PO35 5SQ

Visit: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Bembridge WindmillBembridge Windmill

Isle of Wight ZooEnd of the esplanade, Sandown. This is not a large zoo but it does specialise in Tigers, Lions, Jaguars - accompanied by reptiles, small animals, birds and some monkeys. Excellent Keeper talks, Cafe' with indoor and outdoor seating, gift shop. Our favourite attraction of 2012! Map ref: 17 - PO36 8QB

Visit: www.isleofwightzoo.com/

Sandown ZooSandown Zoo

The Botanic GardensVentnor. This is an interesting place for a pleasant amble amongst sub-tropical and exotic plants and trees from around the world. This location has it's own mini climate where summers can be really hot and winters are quite mild. Indoor exhibition centre at the entrance as well as a Temperate House. Set in 22 acres, children's playground. - Update - from July 2012 new admission charges have been announced. Disabled access with lift. Cafe and Visitors Centre.

It is possible to continue the coastal path out the back of the gardens for further enjoyment, and Steephill Cove is a very short but steep walk away - we recommend this. We think we saw a Red Squirrel here. The Smuggling Museum entrance used to be in the Car Park, sadly no more. It can also get very hot here. Map ref: 18 - PO38 1UL

Visit new website: www.botanic.co.uk

Botanic Gardens Visitors CentreSub tropical plants and treesBotanic Gardens

Isle of Wight Steam Railway from Wooton to Smallbrook junction. This is a great treat for the kids and adults! There are some gift shops, old memorabilia and cafe's situated on this privately run small railway. Special events are also held at various times of the year. Havenstreet and Ashey are also along the route. There is even a trackside Camping and Caravanning site with amenities. Map ref: 19 - PO33 4DS

Visit: www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk

Waltzing WatersSouth of Ryde. This all weather attraction is great for the family with different shows every day of the week. The 40 min display is quite entertaining with music from the past and present, the excellent lighting and perfect timing is quite fascinating, a bit like a firework display choreographed to music without the smells and bangs. Map ref: 15 - PO33 1QS

The Needles Old BatteryAbove The Needles at Alum Bay. Owned by The National Trust this Battery was first completed in 1863 and has had many additions constructed throughout the years and two World Wars. A cafe' and toilets are situated here with fantastic views and plenty of information is available. Take care with young children near the {fenced} cliff edges. The surrounding headland is awesome and The Needles look so small from up here.

Buses run from Alum Bay Pleasure Park below up to here at regular intervals or it is a nice walk up. Sitting upstairs in an open top bus snaking up the cliff road is an experience in itself. The soldiers stationed here helped in a dramatic rescue of The Irex which became shipwrecked after hitting rocks and landed in Scratchells Bay which is directly below the high cliffs of The Battery. The Battery is closed during bad weather. More pictures. Map ref: 4 - PO39 0JH

Visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk or www.theneedlesbattery.org.uk

The Needles Old BatteryA3 Gun

Shipwreck and Maritime MuseumNow at Arreton Barns Craft Village. This Shipwreck & Maritime Museum is reasonably priced and is very interesting. The owner has been diving and finding unchartered shipwrecks for many years, over 100 of them in fact. There are lots of information and treasures to see with press cuttings, maps, old photographs and a video to watch.

There is even a large Narwahl tusk that was impaled into the hull of a ship many years ago and was only removed when the ship came into docks and all that was left of the Narwahl {a.k.a. 'sea monster' or 'sea unicorn'} was its severed head!

Re-located to Arreton Barns a few years ago - once again recommended. More pictures. Map ref: 20 - PO30 3AA

Visit: www.iowight.com/shipwrecks also http://www.arretonbarns.co.uk - Arreton Barns is the Craft Village where it is located.

Shipwreck and Maritime MuseumDiving display and history

Arreton Craft BarnsArreton. This is a craft 'village' where there are many gift and local craft shops set in part of the ancient village of Arreton. It is possible to watch glass blowing, wood carving with lathe work and pottery creation. The Dairyman's Daughter pub is here with lots of indoor and outdoor seating, and food is served all day or enjoy The Maltings Tearoom also nearby. Old agricultural vehicles and artefacts are also dotted about this Free attraction. Bus stop nearby. Large car park. Open all year.

There is also a 12th century church with carp pond which is accessed by walking through the craft village and there is also The White Lion pub just down the lane which also serves food. Arreton Manor nearby. The Shipwreck &Maritime Museum is now relocated here. Map ref: 20 - PO30 3AA

Visit: www.arretonbarns.co.uk

Jacobs Yard, Arreton BarnsArreton Barns

The Longshoreman's MuseumVentnor Esplanade. The Longshoreman's Museum is a small personal collection of historical and nautical items. There are lots of old pictures/maps/and some engravings all about the nautical history of Ventnor and surrounding bays with descriptions and pictures of major events. Ventnor Pier, Steamboats, Shipwrecks, Ventnor Hospital For Diseases of The Chest, Ventnor Esplanade in Victorian times are just some examples of the information that is on display.

This is not an expensive attraction nor is it large but it is recommended nevertheless and if you like looking at old pictures you should enjoy it. Map ref: 18

Longshoremans Museum, Ventnor Esplanade

Mottistone Manor House GardensMottistone. Mottistone Manor House gardens come recommended if you have a nice day suitable for a bit of a walk around the gardens of an old 16th Century Manor House which is run by The National Trust. The Manor House is not open to the public {only a few days in the year} though. Mostly flat but there are areas up steep grassed banks, nice views, cafe', toilets, and a very small gift shop.

There are around ten flower pot men to find which are dotted about the grounds each given names to do with gardening, such as Harry Potter, Phillip Mc Can and Britney Shears for example. This amuses the children and also means that more ground is covered in attempting to find them all! I think we found them all but one. It is situated in a quiet part of The Island. Car parking in a field partly covered with hardcore nearby. More pictures. Map ref: 22 - PO30 4EA

Visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Mottistone Manor GardensMottistone Manor GardensMottistone scarecrow

Donkey Sanctuarynr Wroxhall. This Free attraction is quite enjoyable on a nice day and there is ample parking with a small gift shop and cafe'. Adopt a donkey schemes are available and there are a few horses and ducks as well as the donkeys to look at. Map ref: 23 - PO38 3AA

Visit: www.iwdonkey-sanctuary.com

Donkey SanctuaryDonkey Sanctuary

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