After a day on the water with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, your senses are sparkling… and so is your appetite. Luckily all around the Island we have excellent bars, cafés and restaurants that are right next to the sea. So if you’ve arrived by yacht, by kayak or even by paddle board, you’ll find the best of Island food – wherever you walk ashore.
Recently opened, and right next to the visitors’ moorings in Bembridge Harbour Marina is the Duver Café. A bijou jewel of a place where you can get the best bacon sandwich – or bun with egg, sausage, bubble and squeak, or all three. Add a coffee from the marvellous Mabel – it’s the kind of place where the coffee machine has a name – and eat al fresco by Bembridge Harbour.
Overlooking Bembridge Foreland, The Crab and Lobster looks out over the beach and although it’s not really “arriving” by sea, you are so close you will feel like you have. They serve from breakfast through to dinner and it’s a fabulous view point for ship spotting.
Steephill Cove, south west of Ventnor, is a special place, as much for the fact that it’s as accessible – more so perhaps – by sea as it is by road. Coming to it landwards means a walk past the Cricket Club and down the hilly footpath, but from the water all you need to navigate are the rock pools that protect this beautiful part of the beach. Ashore, head for The Beach Shack for a snack and an ice cream, or choose the The Boat House restaurant where you can taste locally-caught shellfish brought ashore by the cove’s own fishermen.
The ‘Back of the Wight’ is a challenge for the hungry seafarer, being known more for its shipwrecks than its cuisine – at least at sea level! But, if you’ve launched your kayak from Alum Bay then paddle around to Freshwater and come onto dry land in the bay. On a yacht, it’s a good anchorage in a northerly when the Solent side of the Island will be uncomfortable. Once on dry land, you’ve a choice of bars, including The Piano Café, about a five minute walk up past the famous thatched church. There you can try a selection of mezze, Isle of Wight cured Biltong and coffees, teas, beers and wines. If you don’t want to lose sight of your kit, grab a coffee or a cuppa from the Freshwater Lifeboat station. It’s not high cuisine, but the tea is hot and it’s wet and there for a good cause.
Into the Solent and you’re reaching foodie heaven. The Hut in Colwell Bay is a must-mention if only for the fact you need to book to be sure of a table. Right next to the sea (call ahead for the harbour taxi which will take you straight from your boat), The Hut has grown from, well, a hut, to a chilled place to take a relaxed meal.
Next beach up and you’re at Totland Pier (unfortunately derelict – don’t try to moor up as it has got a gaping hole in it which might be hard to jump) but try The Totland Pier Café sitting right on the land-end. At low water, the beach has plenty of sand to drag a paddle board or a dinghy ashore.
There’s a whole host of places to eat around the marinas on the Island including The Lifeboat, at East Cowes Marina. Well worth a stop, it’s a family-friendly bar and a lovely outside space. With the tide underneath you, follow the river upstream where you’ll find Island Harbour and The Breeze restaurant. With stunning views across the marina and over the River Medina, the restaurant serves up tasty dishes featuring local produce, as well as a great menu for vegetarians and vegans. Further along the river, head to The Bargeman’s Rest on Newport Quay for proper grub, good ales and live music.
The north east corner of the Island is as well served as the west with restaurants and cafés. The Three Buoys at Appley Beach is a perfect place for a chat over lunch or a romantic evening dinner.
Last but not least to Seaview, where two very different, but both excellent pubs, can serve you a late supper with your summer sundowners. Float ashore at Puckpool beach and wander up to The Boathouse where locally sourced fish, cheese and meat are brought together on a menu that’s perfect for a summer evening. As the sun goes down, take an evening ale or glass of wine at The Old Fort on Seaview esplanade.
You might even see a mermaid – if you’re lucky!
Written by Rosy Jones. Rosy is a competent sailor. Participants are entirely responsible for their own safety, whether afloat or ashore. Always be aware of the danger of the sea and open water and in any emergency, contact the coastguard on 999.