Our guide to Ventnor holiday cottages
Found on the south of the Isle of Wight, Ventnor is very much the traditional seaside resort of the island. The days when Victorians flocked to the town to enjoy its warm micro-climate may be long gone but the weather still outshines the rest of the island, and that means long sunny days with plenty of time to enjoy the sand and shingle beach.
Even the beach huts were once the bathing machines used in more prudish times, and there’s a quaint feel to the resort that makes it popular with families throughout the year. Look out for the children’s paddling pool that’s also a map of the island, and don’t forget your walking boots as Ventnor is a convenient starting point for many of the Wight’s hikes and walks.
Places to visit in Ventnor
A beautiful Victorian resort, Ventnor has so much to occupy the whole family. Start your trip with a visit to Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Situated at Undercliff Drive, the Botanic Gardens have an exotic plant collection that would rival anywhere else in the UK. If you are lucky, you might see the shy Ventnor lizards sunning themselves on the walls. At weekends and during most of the holiday periods, there are exhibitions from various (usually local) artists. The children can be entertained by the workshops, which are a regular attraction, or by using up their energy in the outdoor childrens play area. If you book, you can also venture into the secret tunnel to the sea. Start your visit with a stopover at the Mediterranean garden before you move on to the Australian and New Zealand Gardens and maybe round off with the South African Terraces. There are guided tours daily plus all areas are accessible to disabled visitors and guide dogs are welcome.
When you think of a traditional little fishing village, the image conjured up would be that of Steephill Cove. Steephill cove is just perfect with its unspoilt beach and its boulders to climb on or lean against to catch the warm sunshine. The cove is home to traditional island fishermen selling their freshly caught crab, mackerel and other mouth-wateringly fresh fish and seafood. A lovely sandy beach slopes down to the sea where the fishermen bring their boats out of the water. To get down onto the beach you have to use the steps or you could sit on the wall and imagine you are actually on the Riviera. Steephill Cove is accessible by road along Love Lane to the signposted pathway which is for foot traffic only. There is no vehicular access to the cove.
Things to do in Ventnor
One of the hidden gems of Ventnor is the Longshoremans Museum on The Esplanade. Sited in the back of the little shop, behind the beaded curtain, is a collection of historical items and nauticalia. Here you will find an array of photographs, maps, engravings and pictures pertaining to the history of Ventnor. There is reference to Ventnor Esplanade during the Victorian period and the Ventnor hospital which was used to treat chest diseases. The shop at the front is small but packed with an eclectic range of items from fossils to dolls houses, or original watercolour paintings and jewellery - the shop itself is an attraction. In the museum are shipwreck finds and models and a detailed history on each photograph.
Ventnor Beach is a delightful sand and shingle south facing beach, very sunny and warm in summer as Ventnor is protected by the St. Boniface Down cliffs at the rear of the town. Ventnor beach is watched over by a lifeguard service and is great for swimming. For the little ones there is a childrens play area. Alternatively you could hire a deck chair and just watch the world go by. The beach is also great for catching your supper as sea fishing is very popular here.
If you are someone who enjoys a good breakfast to start your day then a visit to Besty and Spinkys Cafe Bar on the Esplanade is a must – even if only because of the quirky name! Outside is an Isle of Wight shaped paddling pool for the children to splash in while the adults sit in the sun enjoying one of the best brekkies ever; if you are hungry, then a Ventnor Bay Brekkie is for you. There are daily specials including freshly caught seafood and most dishes include lots of local produce. In fact, if you choose a fish of the day meal, it’s likely the staff will nip to the fishery across the road to pick it up – how fresh is that! The cafe is also licenced and, like most island establishments, dog friendly. The menu includes vegetarian and gluten free options, offers highchairs and is wheelchair accessible.
No guide to Ventnor is complete without mentioning Crave at The Ventnorian on Spring Hill. This is THE place for anyone who enjoys ice cream. And don’t worry if you are vegan, dairy intolerant or have to have a gluten free diet as all are catered for at this peach of an ice cream parlour. All the ice creams are home-made and fresh daily with flavours from sticky toffee pudding to Turkish delight or Bakewell tart to mango and passionfruit.