Here's my guide to some cheap and free places to park on the Isle of Wight including free parking in Ryde, Newport, Sandown, The Needles, Ventnor and Shanklin. It is ideal for anyone - like my mother - who is willing to walk some distance to avoid paying to park. I really don't like paying to park, but I usually cough up now that we have children and 14 bags on every beach outing.
It is also worth trying Your Parking Space and Just Park for events such as Cowes Week or for parking near a ferry port. You can rent out someone's driveway for a few hours or days via the website.
Quite a lot of Isle of Wight seafront parking is free in the depths of winter but I won't bother listing all of those, as most people visit the Island in spring, summer and autumn. I've focused on the places where you might have a day out.
There's also the controversial topic of whether it's acceptable to park in a permit-free residential area as long as you aren't blocking someone's drive. Personally, I have no problem with this (and don't mind people parking near my house) but I do whoosh off pretty quickly when I return to the car in case an angry resident has been waiting for me with a rolling pin...
This guide will probably go out of date before I hit publish, so please comment at the bottom if a) somewhere is no longer free or b) you've found somewhere else free or cheap to park on the Isle of Wight. Also, please check signs for yourself when you park somewhere as I may have got things wrong. And for any grandmas reading, the best way to suck an egg is at the pointy end.
Free and cheap parking for Alum Bay and The Needles
Let's start with one of the trickiest places to visit without paying for parking.
The road which leads to Alum Bay and The Needles has double yellow lines that seem to go on for miles. Last time we visited, the only car park was £6. That's not exorbitant for all day parking but it's a bit pricey if you only stay for 10 minutes before one of the children has a meltdown.
Free and cheap parking in Bembridge and St Helens
Free parking in Brighstone
Free parking at Colwell Bay
Free and cheap parking at Compton Bay
Free parking in Cowes and Gurnard
Cowes gets pretty ruthless when it comes to summertime parking, particularly in Cowes Week.
Free and cheap parking at Freshwater Bay
Free parking in Godshill
Free and cheap parking in Newport and Carisbrooke (including Isle of Wight Festival parking)
There are some residential roads on the edges of the town centre which are free, but a lot are now resident permit areas.
Free and cheap parking in Sandown
Free and cheap parking in Shanklin
Parking on Shanklin Seafront is a competitive and expensive experience. We once stayed in a flat on the seafront which didn't have parking and I spent the whole week moving the car or driving round looking for a space whilst crying (and I spent £50 on parking). Some options:
Free Parking in Ryde
Free Parking at Totland Bay
There are a couple of good options for those who don't want to pay for seafront parking at Totland Bay. Seafront parking was free a few years ago, which makes paying for it all the more painful.
Free parking in Ventnor
Free parking in Yarmouth
Free parking in Yaverland
Free parking near Isle of Wight ferry ports
If you're looking for free or cheap parking in Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington or Southsea for a trip to the Isle of Wight then that is covered in our ferries guide. (Spoiler alert: there isn't much).
If you're hoping to find somewhere free or cheap to park near to the ferries from Fishbourne, Cowes, East Cowes, Yarmouth or Ryde then you face a bit of a challenge. Some suggestions:
This is just a short update to highlight some good deals we've spotted at Parkdean Resorts holiday parks on the Isle of Wight.
Generally, I'm not a big fan of 'last minute deals' at holiday parks. I find that you usually get the best deals by booking very early rather than very late.
The reason is that a holiday park has several grades of accommodation which differ hugely in price. The early bird gets the pick of the grades whilst the last minute deals are for whatever accommodation is best. You may well end up paying for upgrades you don't really need - such as an extra bedroom.
Anyway, the last minute deals page on Parkdean Resorts is currently showing these deals on seven night breaks:
That compares very favourably to the price for a three night break around the same dates. Nodes Point is £599 for a weekend or £619 for a whole week - only £20 difference!
At Lower Hyde Holiday Park you can have a whole week for £319 or £289 at Thorness Bay - that's almost half the price of the three nights at Nodes Point. Lower Hyde gets slightly better reviews than Thorness Bay, but the latter is closer to a beach.
At Lower Hyde, there are several types of caravan at that price. I would go for the ones with the green square saying 'New On Park' as that means they are less than three years old.
If you just want a weekend, then I would look at Lower Hyde or Thorness Bay which are £199 and £189 for July 15th (i.e. tomorrow).
There are also some good deals for glamping. You can either have three nights for about £300 during school holidays or seven nights for £300 outside of school holidays.
Here are the term time prices:
For more information on the four different Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight, check out this comparison guide.
A couple of months ago, I bought myself a drone. I managed to persuade Mrs Guru that it would be a valuable tool in 'generating content' for this website and she signed it off. I find that using phrases like 'generating content' are more convincing than 'larking around'.
It's a wonderfully clever thing which seems like it should cost more than a new car considering the way it can hover with precision and whoosh around the sky.
For anyone interested in the technical stuff, I bought a DJI Mini SE Fly More Combo for about £350. It seemed to be the cheapest drone by the market leaders and came with three batteries, each of which last for about 20-30 minutes. It's exceedingly light so there's very little chance of it injuring someone. I had to spend £10 on registering it with the Civil Aviation Authority, took a theory test and bought insurance which was about £30 for a year.
The theory test taught me that I shouldn't fly it whilst drunk as a skunk and shouldn't fly it towards an Air Ambulance.
And so, I set out on a series of early morning walks around the West Wight. I found that 6am was an excellent time to fly the drone since there was no-one around and I could sneak out whilst the children were asleep.
In a splurge of new-toy excitement I did some filming at Freshwater Bay, Compton Bay, Shepherd's Chine (near Brighstone), Brook Chine, Tennyson Down, Colwell, Totland and Yarmouth.
So far, I've had three small disasters including:
After collecting hours of footage, I then had to chop it up as no-one wants to see all my outtakes.
I settled on Adobe Premiere Elements which is an el-cheapo version of Adobe Premiere Pro. It cost about £50 as a one off, whereas the pro version is a monthly subscription. It suits my needs for now, although I've not compared the two side by side.
My first finished video was Compton Bay, which I jazzed up by making it more of a music video. I spent much time ensuring that every single edit was in time with the music and agonised over the best order in which to present my masterpiece.
"How long would it take to go viral?" I wondered to myself.
And yet, after a month or so it has had a grand total of 36 views. I would guess that half of those are people with the same surname as me.
This was a little disheartening when videos of people opening Kinder Surprise eggs get around 90 million views. Still, my mother liked it.
My second effort was something more topical. I hacked together my footage of Totland Pier being rebuilt, chose the least annoying piece of free music on the editing software and presented it to the world.
On this occasion, I had much more success, mostly thanks to it featuring in articles by On The Wight, the Isle of Wight County Press and Isle of Wight Radio.
1000 views is not quite 'viral', but it's better than 36.
After the success of focusing on something specific rather than general nice shots, I went for the landslide in Totland. The music was gradually getting worse, but I hoped no-one would notice.
How's it going? Well, after two days it's had a whopping 13 views, which means that it will equal the 90 million achieved by the Kinder Egg video in around 38,000 years.
As I write this, the Isle of Wight is at the start of a 10 day heatwave. Such occurrences and sparkling seas look glorious in photos but do somewhat get in the way of doing anything too energetic - particularly if you have young children.
Here are my five suggestions of days out in hot weather on the Isle of Wight which won't have you wilting.
1. Appley Beach
It's tempting to rush straight to the beach on a hot day. From a distance, everyone seems to be having a great time and the water feels genuinely refreshing rather than bracing.
However, most Isle of Wight beaches are completely lacking in shade. You can bring along your own parasol which you've borrowed from your patio dining table but it will probably fall over or take off and fly into the sea.
The best Isle of Wight beach we've found for a very hot day is Appley in Ryde. It's not usually in my Top 5 Isle of Wight beaches as it's a bit busy and developed rather than rustic and natural (my preference).
However, there are great big trees which provide very welcome shade. The car park is only a few metres from the beach and there are shops selling ice creams. Last time I went there was even a public water fountain for refilling bottles. I'd not seen one of those since primary school.
Getting to the water at low tide takes a long time at Appley. The sand goes out towards the end of the pier but there are some nice shallow pools of water on the way which you can paddle around in.
An alternative beach with shade is Priory Bay, which is backed by trees. However, it's a right old effort to get to it. On a hot day, you'll be swearing like Malcolm Tucker by the time you reach the beach.
We've also found some shade in the woodland at Woodside Bay. Again, it's not easy to access. You'll end up parking on the road and walking down a footpath for some distance. The beach is less sandy than it looks in this picture and the water is very rocky, but it's very quiet as a result.
Meanwhile, Shanklin doesn't have any natural shade but there are deckchairs and parasols for hire which should do the trick.
My personal preference is to visit the Isle of Wight's beaches in the late afternoon or early evening during a heatwave.
The temperature has cooled a little and most people have gone home. If it's low tide then the little pools of water in the sand feel like walking into a bath. I realise that 5pm isn't a great time to take children out to the beach.
The air conditioning at Brading Roman Villa isn't really there for the benefit of sweaty visitors like you and I. It's actually there to preserve the Villa, which I'm assuming would combust if it crept above 20 degrees.
Regardless, you can wander the villa around on a hot day without your legs sticking together. Make sure you spend a reeeally long time reading all the information boards so you get plenty of time in the cool environment.
3. Waterside Pool, Ryde
Suggestion number three takes us back to Ryde, which has a swimming pool with a retractable roof. On sunny days they slide it open, so you can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool with indoor changing rooms.
4. Shady Woodland
We've found that a woodland walk is a pretty good all-weather activity. If it's pouring with rain, you get a bit of shelter and if it's blazing hot then you get a bit of shade.
At the risk of sounding like a tree hugger, I'm going to suggest that a woodland full of native deciduous trees will provide better shade than a forest full of coniferous trees (i.e. Christmas tree types).
Your options include:
Please comment below if you can offer further insight. Perhaps we can determine which Isle of Wight woodland is the most shady.
Alright, alright, spending two hours in a dark room may not be making the most of summer on the Isle of Wight.
However, if you've spent a summer living with hayfever then a cool dark room and a huge cup of cold Fanta may be just what you need. I get it, brother.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog