The Isle of Wight is an island located to the south of Southampton and Portsmouth in the English Channel, it doesn’t have any bridges to the mainland so you can’t drive there without taking a ferry. You’ve got a few different options for getting to the island depending on where you’re coming from and how you like to travel.
Not great on boats? 🤮
If you’re a landlubber who feels nauseous after five minutes on the ocean you might want to think carefully about your chosen route across to the Isle of Wight. Fortunately the crossing is nothing like crossing the Atlantic or even going all the way across the channel to France – on the whole the sea should be calmer and less sickening. To minimise your boat time you can choose the hovercraft from Southsea and keep the whole thing down to a manageable 10 minutes. Why doesn’t everyone choose this route? Well for a start you can’t take your car with you. Your crossing of choice will also depend on where you’re coming from, where you’re staying and what availability there is.
Where are you coming from? 🗺️
If you are coming from the west the easiest crossing is from Lymington to Yarmouth. You get the added bonus of a journey through the New Forest National Park where you can spot ponies, enjoy numerous picnic spots or perhaps even spend a few nights before or after your Isle of Wight stay. If you’re coming from the east you’ll have to decide between the ease of getting from the M27 to Portsmouth Harbour for a longer crossing time, or the slightly more fiddly journey to Southsea for a breezy 10 minute crossing. Those of you coming from the north can catch the speedy Red Jet from Southampton to Cowes or the more leisurely Red Funnel Ferry that operates the same route. Of course any of the terminals can be reached from anywhere if you so choose.
Take your car or leave your car? 🚙
If you choose to drive you’ll find you can get almost anywhere on the island within 60 minutes. However, if you’re catching the hovercraft from Southsea you won’t be able to take a car so you’ll need to make use of the large car park at the terminal or take public transport. If you choose train you’ll need to get to Portsmouth & Southsea Railway Station and follow the signs to the Hoverbus that will take you to the hovercraft terminal for a small fee. If you’re taking the ferry from Lymington or Portsmouth Harbour you can either take your car or park at the terminal and cross as a foot passenger. The free Quayconnect Shuttle Bus connects Southampton’s Central Rail Station to Red Funnel’s ferry ports for sailings to Cowes. Or should the mood take you it’s only a 12-15 minute walk. Remember you can’t take a car on the Red Jet.
As a foot passenger you can make your way round the island by bus or train. There are over 20 standards bus routes serving the majority of the island including main ferry terminals. You can also use the Island Line operated by South West Trains and formed of old London Underground trains. You can catch the train between Ryde Pier Head (connecting with the hovercraft) and Shanklin.
The quiet countryside roads make it very good for cycling. As well as the roads the is a good network of cycle tracks and routes as well as miles of public bridleways for those who like getting off road. There is also a well signed ‘Round the island’ road route. The Isle of Wight is also great for walkers with a wealth of footpaths and bridleways. Apparently there are more footpaths per square mile than any other English county!
The Isle of Wight's charming Island Line
Feeling flash? 🎩
If you fancy travelling in style, without the general public for company, we’ve got a couple of ingenious options for you. You could book a private rib transfer (that’s a rigid inflatable boat or speed boat to you and me) or even take a helicopter! A water taxi will set you back around £85 for one person and £15 for each additional person. If you really want to arrive in style you could take a helicopter ride from the London Helipad in Battersea to Cowes in the Isle of Wight. The journey takes 35 minutes, comes with free champagne and a light meal and will only set you back around £3000…