Beaches: Ventnor and the south
A small fishing hamlet in the nineteenth century, the town grew to become a Victorian sea side resort at the advent of the Isle of Wight railway in 1866, it’s Victorian origins are reflected in much of the architecture. Ventnor Bay is huddled around by cafes and seaside shops with the spyglass pub claiming the views from the western end of the bay and the Ventnor Haven Harbour with it’s landmark lookout point (a cleverly disguised water pumping station) and fishing boats at the other. Sheltered from the north by St Boniface Downs, Ventnor has it’s own microclimate supporting the growth of palm trees and other tropical plants, if you’re into botany then the Ventnor Botanic Gardens is just along the coast. The beach itself is small pebbles and sand with good swimming opportunities. It gets fairly busy in the summer, there are two carparks at either end of the beach and parking along the sea front. Though it’s a lovely 2 hour walk via Luccombe and Bonchurch from Isle of Yoga, you can also get the number 3 bus which runs approximately every half an hour.
Monks Bay, Bonchurch
East of Ventnor is Monks Bay in the village of Bonchurch, the bay itself is a pebbly affair, (in-fact you can find some beautiful stones, driftwood and interesting stuff). A lovely quiet bay used by fishermen and the odd school party from ‘East Dene’ which has now become an education centre. Though previously the home of the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne who spent his boyhood at East Dene, and was buried in 1909 at Bonchurch New Church, his grave being the subject of a poem by Thomas Hardy. You can walk to Bonchurch through the Landslip or the number 3 Bus stops on the main road from Shanklin to Ventnor. A fashionable hang out for writers, poets and artists in the mid to late 19th Century, Bonchurch was the destination of celebrated Victorians such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay they came here and stayed in large villas that they rented, often for the season. The village is very small but pleasant there’s the Pond Cafe, for some fine dining or light lunches and the Bonchurch Inn tucked away up the hill, for an old fashioned pub experience. The oldest church on the Island (11th Century) is also here head down past East Dene, the door is usually open.
Carry on South West from Ventnor along the coastal path and after about 20 minutes you’ll come to Steephill Cove. One of the Islands prettiest little beaches with lots of old world charm. In the summer months it does get busy, not surprisingly, on a sunny day it’s pretty idylic. There’s some good lunch options here with freshly caught crab and fish from the crab shed, the boathouse and the Beach shack cafes and restaurants. A walk up the steep steps will put back on the coastal path and heading south the Ventnor Botanic Gardens are very close by.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]