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Only a few miles off the Hampshire coast, the Isle of Wight does it’s best to bottle the classic British holiday. An ever-popular retreat for walkers, cyclists and the bucket-and-spade brigade since Queen Victoria’s reign, the island’s leading appeal is its countless outdoor activities, mild climate and dense green hills that roll down to over 20 miles of unspoilt beaches. However, things are developing and the last decade has also seen a youthful buzz injecting life into its towns and villages, attracting a new generation of campers with fancy gastropubs, vintage antique shops and international music festivals.
Found on the island's picturesque east coast, Whitecliff Bay is a great spot for families and small groups. The site offers a wide range of accommodation, with over 400 pitches for traditional campers set on a south-facing gentle slope with stunning countryside views. A variety of glamping options can be found at ‘Canvas Village’, where a dozen bell tents and 'Canvas Cottages' are ideal for those who don’t want to compromise on comfort. If you're a camper striving for solitude then Whitecliff Bay probably isn’t going to be for you. But what the park lacks in intimacy, it makes up for in facilities with a large outdoor and indoor-heated pools, a secluded sandy beach (with café), two restaurants and a supermarket store that sells all the essentials.
The Isle of Wight is only 23 miles by 13, and much of it is designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. The east coast is lined with charming Victorian resorts (such as nearby Sandown), while the scenic west coast is less developed and home to the pretty port of Yarmouth and the Needles, pinnacles of chalk towering out of the sea. Perfect walking territory, the island is criss-crossed with 500 miles of footpaths. If you don't feel like tackling the 64-mile coastal path, then try the Tennyson Trail. Named after former Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, this picturesque walk starts at Carisbrooke Castle and continues over Brightstone Down towards Alum Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for the "barrows" on Mottistone Down, a burial site that dates back 4,000 years.
Days certainly fly by on the Isle of Wight. Whichever way you turn you’ll find spectacular views, a plethora of attractions and miles of untouched coastline. Back at Whitecliff Bay the evenings bring the good times too. Don’t worry campers, no jazz hands here; the onsite entertainment includes artists from the West End and in the summer month’s outdoor film screenings overlooking the bay. But if the ‘holiday park’ feel isn’t to your taste? Well, just kick back, light up the BBQ and take in those countryside views. Fantastic.
Plenty of spaces for tents, 11 Canvas Cottages and 12 bell tents. 2 shower blocks and laundry facilities. Small shop (open during peak times), bar (with free WiFi). Guests have full access to use: the indoor and outdoor heated pools, club house, indoor soft playground, outdoor playground and sports lounge. Daytime activities include: archery, axe throwing, paintball, crossbow, 'footgolf', water confidence, pool snorkelling and more. Also sand pouring souvenirs, panning for gold, nature rangers badge making, balloon buddies, cookie decorating and more.
Tents, caravans, glampers, families, groups and dogs (max 2 per pitch) – yes. Hen and stag parties – no.
Carisbrooke Castle (01983 523112), built in the 12th century is best known as the place where King Charles I was imprisoned: walk the castle walls or play bowls on the very green Charles used. Kids will love dressing up as Norman soldiers or Civil War troopers, and meeting the castle’s famous donkeys, while grown-ups can take a stroll around the new Edwardian-style Princess Beatrice Garden. The English Heritage property Osborne House (01983 200022) offers the chance to visit a royal seaside palace in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Built in the 19th century for Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, you can take a glimpse into the family’s life as you tour their private rooms. Go and explore some wildlife at Queen Victoria’s private beach or at the fashionable garden. If you’re interested in more exotic animals try the Isle of Wight Zoo (01983 403883) and Amazon World Zoo Park (01983 867122).
Food & Drink
Onsite dining options include Nab Bar & Restaurant that serves food throughout the day, Tuppeny Café offering homemade food, family-run service and postcard views, or, if you're in a rush, the Culver Diner serves convenient fast food including freshly-made pizzas, burgers and hot dogs. Away from Whitecliff, the Culver Downs Café provides simple home made goodies at a spectacular location, The Crab & Lobster Inn (01983 872244) was awarded 'Isle of Wight Dining Pub of the Year 2010' by the Good Pub Guide and God's Providence House (01983 522085) is a traditional tea room sourcing only local produce.
March – November (but some on-site accommodation available all year).
From Wightlink Fishbourne Terminal: head southwest on Fishbourne Lane towards Ranalagh Drive for 0.5 miles. Turn left at A3054/Elenors Grove and continue to follow the A3054. Go over one roundabout and turn left at Argyll Street. Slight right at B3330/Green St, continue to follow B3330 for 0.8 mile. Turn left at Alexandra Rd/B3330 and left again at B3330/High Park Rd. Turn right at A3055/Appley Rd then at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A3055/Marlborough Road. Continue to follow A3055 and go over another roundabout. Turn left at B3395/Sandown Rd and continue to follow B3395 for 2.5 miles.
From Red Funnel Cowes Terminal: Head west on Town Quay toward High Street and turn left at High Street. High Street becomes B3325/Carvel Lane then turn left at B3325/Terminus Road, continuing to follow B3325. Turn left at Pl Road/B3325 and follow B3325 for 1.2 miles. Again, turn right at A3020/Newport Rd, then continue to follow the A3020 for 2.2 miles. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A3054/Medina Way then turn left at A3020/Snook’s Hill. Continue to follow Snook’s Hill for 100 metres, then turn right at Staplers Road, slight right at Long Lane for 1.1 miles. Continue on Longlane and at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Downend Road. Turn left toward Bullys Hill for 2.5 miles, turn right at Bullys Hill for another 2.3 miles. Turn right at The Mall and then left at Lower Adgestone Road. Continue on B3395/Sandown Rd to follow B3395 for 2.5 miles.
From Ryde Pier Head Rail Station: walk about 12 mins to Ryde Bus Station. From Ryde Bus Station (East-Bound) take Southern Vectis Bus 8 and that will bring you straight to the campsite.
From Brading Rail Station: adjacent to Rowborough Cottages take Southern Vectis Bus 8 towards Sandown, Melville Street and get off at Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 2 reviews
Whitecliff bay is my favourite campsite I've stayed at so far ! Me and my girlfriend camped a few nights before a festival, but it was still big enough for it to appear quiet. All the locals/staff were friendly and helpful and could give recommendations on where to cycle to nearby. The private beach is lovely, but if you wanted somewhere more busy, Youre never too far from the coastline and Sandown is only a few minutes down the road. The campsite was very clean, I always saw someone attending to the showers and toilets (the showers are very nice too). They offer activities for all ages, and you could probably have a holiday there without even leaving the place. I really enjoyed my stay and would definitely came back again !
Great site for families
We're locals and have stayed at Whitecliff Bay several times and always had a good time. Its quite a big site with camping fields and then caravans/chalets too (the latter on the opposite side of the road), and busy in summer. So, as the Cool Camping entry says, not really one for peace and solitude. But a nice site and the sandy beach at Whitecliff Bay is lovely (with a couple of cafes too) though note you do have to cross a road and (pretty short) walk to reach it. Good facilities esp the outdoor pool (the indoor one is less appealing tbh), basically everything you need for a camping hol. There is entertainment if thats your thing, but its set away from the camping area so easily avoided if thats not yr cuppa. The owners are gradually upgrading - glamping, outdoor cinema etc - which is good to see investment in the site.