Sandown is best-known as a friendly-family resort, and the town is well served by its safe, sandy beaches, a pier and a wide variety of shops, hotels, restaurants and cafes.
The pier is the only traditional entertainment pier remaining on the Isle of Wight and has all the amusements, fairground rides, cafes and bars you’d expect, with fishing allowed from the end of the pier for keen anglers. Families can stay entertained for hours, and the views along Sandown Bay, to Culver Cliff in the north and St. Boniface Downs in the south, are stunning.
Sandown Carnival, the first in the Island’s busy season, takes place at the end of July and is a feast for the senses. The kids will also be entertained at Browns Pitch and Putt on the seafront, whilst more serious golfers can visit the local 18-hole golf course. Close by, the Isle of Wight Zoo is a world-renowned tiger and big cat sanctuary, as well as featuring many other rare and rescued exotic species.
Dinosaur Isle charts the Island’s rich prehistoric heritage, with dinosaur and fossil samples gathered from around the Island’s eroding cliff faces. A walk south along the base of the cliffs towards Shanklin is a must, and you will be able to stop and take in the views at one of the many beachfront cafes, whether it be a cream tea or light lunch. A walk back along the cliff tops offers even more stunning panoramas.
The walk north to Culver Cliffs is also very rewarding, with views across half of the Island, the Solent towards Portsmouth, Southsea and the South Downs. Nearby Whitecliff Bay has a wide expanse of family-friendly sandy beach, rockpools and two beach cafes. For the more energetic, The Heights is one of the Island’s largest multi-purpose leisure centres, with activities ranging from swimming and squash to fitness training and pampering in a well-equipped health suite.
Historic Brading, just a few miles inland from Sandown, used to be a busy port, and a walk along Quay Lane past the Norman Church will take you down to the former harbour wall and along to Brading Marshes, the Island’s first RSPB Reserve.
The town also features the award-winning Roman Villa Visitor Centre which features many rare and interesting artefacts found at the site and some of the most beautifully preserved mosaics in Europe. The site, one of the UK’s finest, offers a unique insight into Roman Britain.
Just west of Sandown, Amazon World Zoo Park is an educational and conservation centre housing over 200 animal species and rainforest plants, with regular falconry displays and Meet The Animals talks throughout the day.