Sitting just off the south coast of England, the Isle of Wight is home to quaint villages, superb beaches, towering chalk cliffs and some fantastic walks and attractions. That’s what drives tourists to the island year after year, and it’s why camping in the Isle of Wight has been a popular vacation for decades.
We cover camping in the Isle of Wight in this article, and share with you some of our favourite IOW campsites and what attractions are near each. On top of that we look at wild camping in the Isle of Wight, as well as things to do, and the weather to expect.
But first, here’s a few fun facts about the island!
- It’s the sunniest place in the UK, getting around 1800-2000 hours of sun per year.
- When the tide comes in, the Isle of Wight is the smallest county in England. However when the tide goes out, it becomes the second smallest!
- It’s a great place to look for fossils and dinosaur footprints. At least 20 different dinosaur breeds lived in the region.
- To get to the island you can take a hovercraft. It’s the last remaining commercial hovercraft in the world.
- It’s believed to be the most haunted island in the world.
Camping in the Isle of Wight
Camping on this pretty island is never going to disappoint, as the Isle of Wight is home to fantastic walks, a spectacular coastline, a rich history, and some great family friendly attractions.
There are some very nice campsites to choose from that are located close to some of those historic sites, ancient landmarks and the best beaches – we give some of our favourites below.
A good quality walking in the Isle of Wight book – like this one – may also help you plan what area you want to visit and walk in, and therefore what campsites might be of interest to you.
However if you’re looking for Isle of Wight campsite recommendations, we have you covered below!
Camping in the Isle of Wight: Some of the best IOW campsites
Appuldurcombe Gardens Holiday Park
This fun-filled campsite sits within an Area of Outstanding Beauty and is just a few minutes drive from Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor beaches. The site also has great public transport links.
That makes it a great base for your Isle of Wight holiday. However with a heated outdoor swimming pool, crazy golf and a children’s play area on-site, as well as numerous walks and bike paths close by, we found this campsite to be an easy place to chill for a day too.
Facilities are well kept and clean, whilst the campsite cafe has some nice drinks and snacks available as well.
Compton Farm is a much smaller campsite in comparison, but the place is so serene and idylic. You feel like you’re in the middle of nature – because you are!
This working farm is situated on the south of the island right beside the coast, so expect breathtaking views across the ocean. The location also means Compton Farm is beside some lovely coastal walks.
If you’re looking for a camping holiday which takes you away from city life, then this campsite will be perfect. With very little light pollution at night, stargazing from your tent is a special experience here as well.
Around five minutes walk away is Compton Bay, a pretty sandy bay which is sun-facing and on most days is safe for swimming too. Incredibly, at low tide you can sometimes find dinosaur footprints here!
Heathfield Farm Camping Park
This friendly well-kept campsite is located in Norton Green in the west of the island and has stunning sea views. The site is dog-friendly (and has an exercise area for dogs), and there’s a beach and good pub within walking distance too.
We found the facilities to be very clean, and the staff to be friendly and happy to offer tips on what to see and where to go in the area.
The village of Freshwater is close by as well. The beach here – Freshwater Bay – is one of the best on the island, while the cafe beside it – the Freshwater Bay Cafe – has great ice cream!
The owners have clearly tried to create a quirky campsite and without a doubt they’ve succeeded. You can pitch your own tent or caravan, but there’s also the opportunity to stay in an old helicopter, Shepard’s hut, or a Bollywood inspired VW campervan!
The well-kept facilities are equally as quirky. And there’s even a double decker bus that has been converted into a communal kitchen complete with free tea and coffee on the upstairs deck! Combine that with fire pits, an outdoors entertainment stage, a mini cinema, and free range hens that lay eggs that you can have for free, you can see why this is easily one of our favourite IOW campsites!
The site itself is located in the center of the Isle of Wight beside Carisbrooke, which makes it a fantastic base if you’re wanting to explore the island. There’s also a couple of nice pubs and restaurants within walking distance too.
Wild camping in the Isle of Wight
Like many areas of the UK, wild camping in the Isle of Wight isn’t officially allowed. Although campers are allowed to pitch their tent if they have the permission of a landowner.
Wild camping on the beaches in the Isle of Wight is also forbidden. Yet as the Isle of Wight is a popular area with amazing natural beauty, some outdoor enthusiasts do wild camp here. However it’s sometimes tolerated by locals if you respect the land, camp far from buildings, and stick to the principles of leave no trace.
If you are planning to wild camp in the Isle of Wight – and can’t be swayed to stay in a campsite instead – we’ve compiled the following guidelines to help keep you out of trouble and camp in a considerate manner:
- You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place which will not be easily seen. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, always seek out the landowner and ask permission. They may request a small fee.
- Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet, blends in with the landscape, and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight walking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to wild camp in the Isle of Wight.
- If you are walking a trail you should camp away from the path as a matter of courtesy.
- When wild camping in the Isle of Wight, you should never make a campfire. For cooking, use a storm cooker. Our recommendation would be the Swedish brand Trangia, as their storm cookers are safe and virtually indestructible. Portable solar ovens, like this one by GoSun, are also a good fuel-less option.
- Take any rubbish with you, and leave your camping spot exactly the way you found it.
Some of the best places to visit when camping in the Isle of Wight
Fossil hunting at Compton Bay
The Isle of Wight is one of the best places in Europe to hunt for fossils, and one of the best places on the island is Compton Bay!
Along with dinosaur footprints that can be seen during low tide, there’s also many types of fossils that can be found at Compton Bay including fossilised dinosaur bones and teeth.
You will likely have the most success if you search amongst the rocks and stones that have been exposed at low tide.
This stunning old castle is located in the middle of the island and across it’s 800 year existence it’s been an artillery fortress, prison and a royal summer residence.
It was also used to imprison Charles I, but now it’s a popular tourist destination due to its rich history, the exhibits on display, and a great little tea room.
Wildheart Animal Sanctuary
If you have kids to entertain, then a visit to this animal sanctuary will keep everyone happy. The zoo – which is a charitable trust – looks after big cats like lions and tigers, but has also been successful in breeding endangered Madagascan lemurs.
The animals are well looked after, and it’s possible to see big cats up close. A guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Possibly the most photographed natural attraction on the island is The Needles – three chalk stacks that rise out of the ocean in dramatic fashion.
We recommend undertaking the Headon Warren walk, which will take you up a nearby hill – and past a Bronze Age burial mound – to a viewpoint which has spectacular views of the coast and the famous chalk sea stacks. It’s a perfect place for a picnic.
The best months to visit and weather in the Isle of Wight
Most visitors choose to come to the Isle of Wight in summer, when daytime temperatures range around 15-22 Celsius. There should be very few rainy days during summer, and it’s a great season for coastal walks and camping.
Autumn and spring are cooler – around 10-16 Celsius during the day – but they are both great times to avoid the peak tourist season, tackle some of the Isle of Wight’s best walking trails, and enjoy the island’s landmarks without a crowd. It’s best to assume there will be some rainy days though.
It rarely snows on the Isle of Wight during winter, but daytimes temperatures typically range around 5-10 degrees Celsius. The crisp fresh air on walks during this season is enjoyable, and it’s a lot milder than most of the UK during these months.
Recommended for camping in the Isle of Wight
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