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Situated just off England’s South coast, the Isle of Wight shimmers in the English Channel. Notorious for its unspoilt natural beauty, and less than 2 hours from London via ferry, this has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times.

With a mild climate, diverse range of outdoor activities and a 57 miles of varied coastline, holidays on the Isle of Wight are pure heaven for those who enjoy nature and wildlife.

Here are out favorite nature themed things to do.

10 Things to do on the Isle of Wight For Those Who Love Nature & Wildlife

Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight.

Go Walking

With more than half the island a Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and more than 500 miles of walking trails, one of the most popular things to do on the Isle of Wight is to take in the views with a good old walk.

Holiday cottage specialists Blue Chip Holidays recommend the Tennyson Trail as a good one to start off with. This 15 mile route stretches from Carisbrooke Castle all the way to The Needles, and you’ll pass some of the views that have graced Isle of Wight postcards for generations along the way.

There are over 300 organised walks to choose from, and in May, the island hosts the largest annual walking festival in the UK. Themed walks during the festival include ghost walks, food walks, garden walks, and even a speed dating walk.

Shanklin Chine Historic Gorge

Carved by Mother Nature over thousands of years, the stunning tree lined gorge that is Shanklin Chine cuts its mark from Shanklin Old Village to the sandy beach and esplanade far below.

It is a magical world of natural beauty, and a rich haven of  rare plants, wildlife and enchanting waterfalls. There are few places on the Isle of Wight, let alone England, that can boast such a tranquil and picturesque location.

This is the Isle of Wight’s oldest attraction, having first opened in 1817.

Shanklin Chine.

Adventure Activities Isle of Wight

With activity sites throughout the island, Adventure Activities Isle of Wight is great for those who enjoy outdoor adventure. And they are the largest and most well respected Adventure Company on the Isle of Wight.

Whether you want to get out on the open sea on a surfboard, paddleboard, or kayak, or land activities like climbing or mountain boarding, Adventure Activities Isle of Wight is a great place to start.

One of their most popular activities is Coasteering – a unique adventure sport where you experience the exhilaration of sea level traversing, rock climbing, cliff jumping and swimming into sea caves. This activity is a great way to explore along the wild and beautiful Isle of Wight coastline.

Isle of Wight Zoo & Tiger Sanctuary

Overlooking the sandy beaches of Sandown Bay, this is the Island’s original zoo. The team here pride themselves on delivering an inspiring and unique wildlife experience, and they have a strong focus on education, conservation, and improving the well-being of animals in human care.

The zoo is committed to providing a life-long home to rescued big cats as well as providing a loving home for other animal residents. They’re a home for a range of animals, from lions and tiger to monkeys and lemurs. Zena the white tiger is worth the visit alone!

Zoo Tours run every day, including big cat feeding presentations, while younger children will love making new friends during small animal handling sessions.

Isle of Wight Zoo & Tiger Sanctuary

Amazon World Zoo

Amazon World Zoo is an exotic animal attraction which allows visitors to experience jungle rainforests featuring an array of exotic and interesting birds, crocodiles and penguins.

The experienced tour guides will guide you through the exhibit, teaching visitors about the animals and the conservation efforts to keep their natural habitats safe for the future.

Butterfly & Fountain World

Butterfly world is a colourful and enthralling place where you can watch hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world fly freely in a natural environment. And visitors have the unique opportunity to study their life cycle first hand.

Alongside Butterfly World you’ll find Fountain World, with Italian & Japanese gardens, Koi ponds, and beautiful fountains and streams to enjoy.

Butterfly & Fountain World

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Experience a bygone era, a time when steam was king and everything way big and loud. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway allows you to experience the thrills of these magnificent steam engines relax on the fully restored Victorian carriages while taking in the impressive country and coastal views that the Isle of Wight has to offer.

The railway runs five miles from Smallbrook Junction through Ashey and Havenstreet to Wootton. Passengers can hop on and off at any of the stops along the way and savour the view of the trains as they pass by.

Visit the Beaches

A visit to the Isle of Wight wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of their famous beaches. The Island has miles and miles of award winning beaches, and with 57 miles of varied coastline these are considered among the best in Europe.

With the option between sand and shingle beaches, rugged cliffs, hidden coves and clear waters, a trip to the beach is an essential part of any visit to the Island.

The award-winning beaches of Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor all have very popular esplanades with a great selection of cafes, shops and facilities to enhance your “day at the beach”.

Brook Bay - Isle of Wight

Monkey Haven

Monkey Haven is a home for rescued animals like monkeys, meerkats, birds of prey, reptiles and other exotic creatures. There are plenty of activities for visitors, including daily keeper talks, animal feeds, trails, play areas, a tea room and gift shop.

This is one of the island’s top attractions, with spacious bespoke enclosures, first class facilities, and an incredible team of passionate keepers. It has been set up as a charity, and all proceeds from admissions are used to care for creatures in crisis.

Get up close and personal with hand-reared birds of prey and meet the gorgeous owls, learn too about the ‘rescue and release’ programme for injured birds. Meet Reptiles too such as a boa constrictor or a tortoise.

Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary

Located between Shanklin and Ventnor, the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a charity which provides a home to distressed and unwanted donkeys.

They are very placid and gentle creatures and respond best when treated kindly so why not pay a visit and make a new friend. You can even adopt one!

Although admission is free, there are a number ways that people can contribute to the running costs of the sanctuary. There is a gift shop and café, a bric a brac shop, and a number of donation boxes.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured header image by Vignesh Mohan. Freshwater Bay by James Whitesmith. Shanklin Chine by Nat. Isle of Wight Zoo & Tiger Sanctuary by Adam Foster. Butterfly world by Daniel Hall. Brook Bay by Strep72.

    24 Comments

  1. How I would love to visit these places with my camera in hand. So much beautiful scenery and nature to study! Thank you for sharing the beauty.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Barbara! Hope you have the chance to visit the Isle of Wight soon!

  2. I have to confess that although I am British I have never been to the Isle of Wight. It just seems too painful to head to London then across London and down to the island. There’s no doubt however it is stunning and I love your pictures. If only I could fly there….

    • There’s no doubt it’s worth putting up with the transit to get there though! Can highly recommend a trip – on par with many of the European island destinations you would catch flights out of Britain to see 🙂

  3. A Donkey Sanctuary??!! How come I had never heard of this before?? I LOVE donkeys!! And a charity that rescues meerkats? Seriously, they really want to see me there 😉

    I didn’t even know the Isle of Wight when I lived in the South of England but I’ve had a big interest in it since I read stories from Bear Grylls about the island. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to visit it, but I’m sure I’d have a blast.

    • There seems to be a big focus on responsible wildlife experiences / sanctuaries on the Isle of Wight – I was really impressed with the diversity of the programs, and how they put focus on education and conservation throughout the sanctuaries and zoos.

      If you do have the opportunity to visit England again can highly recommend a trip to the Isle of Wight 🙂

  4. Not going to lie, I know absolutely nothing about the Isle of Wight but with all of those awesome animal sanctuaries, I really want to head back to the UK and swing over to see the monkeys and see what the heck a Donkey Sanctuary is.
    As for Darcee, there is no question that she will drag me to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway cause she loves anything dealing with train rides around the world!

    • Sounds like the Isle of Wight would be the perfect place for both of you – glad we could put it on your radar!

  5. Sounds like there is soooo much to do, and talk about epic views. I’d never heard of coasteering before- I think I’d head to the Isle of Wight just to try that!

    • Absolutely – a small island but packs a big punch! I hadn’t actually heard of coasteering before the Isle of Wight either – but big big fan – so much fun!

  6. The Isle of Wight sounds lovely! I lived in the UK for 2 years and never made it there, unfortunately… I would definitely visit to volunteer at the donkey sanctuary!

    • Perfect excuse to head back! The Donkey Sanctuary is such an incredible charity – they take such good care of the animals, and they’re so lovely to visit and spend time around!

  7. Wow, Isle of Wight seems like a walker’s paradise. 500 Miles of walker’s trails – that is insane. As someone who loves to walk, this would be one hell of a place to explore.

    Steam engine ride seems like fun but I wonder how tigers feel in that cold weather. Do you know white tigers are actually normal tigers with a skin condition that deprives them of the skin color?

    • Absolutely – if you’re a fan of walking / hiking you’ve chosen the right place!!

      I don’t know how Tigers cope in the cold weather actually, though I’m sure the zoo has their environment monitored 🙂 I was aware of that re the white Tigers – same with other animals too. I’ve only ever seen an albino Kangaroo though, yet to see other animals with the same, though I know it happens. Crazy right!

  8. The Isle of White seems incredible. I’m all about exploring all the isles of the UK and this one is definitely on the list. It seems like there are lots of zoological-related attractions there. I’d probably avoid all of them except the donkey sanctuary. Donkeys are adorable and I’ve never heard of a sanctuary for this animal. My favorite thing is to explore the beaches and to go walking so I think I’d be right at home. I love finding a secluded place in nature and just taking in the moment. It’s all about those spiritual moments to me and I’m sure I’d find that in this incredible part of the world!

    • Incredible is an accurate description! A great place to explore too with it’s wealth of wilderness and hiking trails.

      There definitely are a lot of animal sanctuaries and big focus on wildlife conservation throughout the island, which I absolutely love.

      I think you’ll find the Isle of Wight has an incredible balance of nature based options for things to do 🙂

  9. I am definitely a nature and wildlife lover, so I am all about these suggestions. I love the idea regarding the monkey haven and the donkey sanctuary! Glad there is a place to be welcoming for unwanted donkeys. I am so happy to hear that they do a “rescue and release,” and ensure that the rehabilitated animals are able to return to the wild. So important! 🙂

    • Me too 😀 The Isle of Wight has an incredible focus on wildlife conservation, I really love their mission and mindset of improving animal care, and fostering abandoned wildlife. Rehabilitation (when appropriate) is the sign of an ethical organization with the wildlife’s best interests at heart.

  10. I just heard about the Isle of Wight for the first time on a podcast this year and was instantly intrigued, but never did more digging. Luckily, you did the work for me! Going Walking and Shanklin Chine Historic Gorge would be the top of my list. I love getting to see the natural wonders in unexpected destinations. I had no idea that there were so many animal-tourism opportunities were there though! That’s so interesting that they all flocked here. I also heard it was one of the most haunted places on earth… Spooky!

    • Glad we could help you out and remind you of your mission to visit! Walking is one of the best things to do here honestly – hikers will be in their element! Such incredible scenery.

      And yes, there’s a huge focus on conservation and responsible animal-tourism, which I love. They’re really leading the world in terms of setting a standard for animal care.

      Had no idea that it was considered a haunted island though. Will look more into that!

  11. I really had no idea that the Isle of Wight had so many wildlife sanctuaries. Butterflies, donkeys, monkeys, safari animals — what a variety! And there’s a steam engine, too? That would be a fun thing to do with families. Personally, I think what I would most enjoy would be the Shanklin Chine Historic Gorge — so beautiful!

    • Surely has to be one of the highest concentrations of wildlife sanctuaries for such an island – a lot of focus on wildlife conservation and responsible animal tourism in this region – I love it!

      And yes, the steam engine is great! Definitely a fan favorite among families 🙂

  12. I had no idea there were so many animal-related things to see and do on the Isle of Wight. I would especially love to visit the sanctuaries – I wonder why so many of them ended up in this particular area. I never heard of sanctuaries for monkeys or donkeys, and am happy to learn that they exist and are caring for these animals.

    • Pretty high concentration for such an island – it’s inspiring that they have such a strong focus on ecotourism and responsible wildlife experiences. Not sure why they all ended up in the same spot though.

      Hope you have the chance to visit soon, and possibly support some of the sanctuaries 🙂

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