Kayaking Isle of Wight: A ‘Best Places’ to Kayak FULL GUIDE

A Kayaking Guide for the Isle of Wight & Surrounds

Just as we’ve been to the Isle of Wight Festival a few times so too have we enjoyed Kayaking Isle of Wight as well – usually at the same time of year killing two birds with one stone.

The Isle of Wight is nestled just off the southern coast of England (just a short paddle from the New Forest | Kayaking in the New Forest) and presents an idyllic setting for kayaking enthusiasts with some calm to challenging paddling options on offer.

Boasting a diverse and stunning landscape, the island offers endless opportunities for exploration by water and believe us when we say there is some stunning coastline around the island. 

Whether you’re looking to explore on your own or share the experience with family and friends, Kayaking on the Isle of Wight is sure to create unforgettable memories.

Let’s paddle on and find out all about Kayaking here about the Isle of Wight and hopefully you’ll be inspired to visit for a kayaking sojourn of your own.

Best Kayaking Spots on the Isle of Wight

As a haven for kayakers, the Isle of Wight features several tried and tested destinations (by us), such as the picturesque Freshwater Bay or the more wild and serene Clamerkin Brook. 

From gentle, scenic inland waterways to coastal shorebreaks and open water adventures, there is something to suit every skill level and preference.

With hidden rivers and safe beaches scattered around the island, both beginners and seasoned paddlers alike can find the perfect spot to enjoy the tranquillity or thrill of kayaking here on the Isle of Wight.

Here are some of our personal favourite Kayaking spots on the island.

Kayaking Isle of Wight at Bembridge Harbour

Interested in Kayaking Portsmouth or Kayaking in Bath?

The following liked articles cover all you need to know about those destinations.
Kayaking Portsmouth | Kayaking in Bath

Ryde Kayaking

Ryde is a great location for kayaking, offering picturesque coastlines and calm waters.

It’s perfect for beginners and families looking for a leisurely paddle but alas, there are few kayak hire companies in the area although there does seem to be pop-up hire places on the beaches in the summer months.

Start paddling at Ryde West Sands at high tide and paddle all around Ryde Pier, the marina and down along the gorgeous Ryde Beach and Apley Beach and further even onto Seaview Point.

Kayaking Cowes

Cowes is known for its sailing and water sports. Kayaking in Cowes offers the opportunity to explore the vibrant marina and surrounding waterways. 

Intermediate kayakers might enjoy the challenge of more dynamic water conditions. Be sure to check local weather and tidal conditions before planning your trip.

Palmers Brook can be a fun paddle at high tide and from East Cowes right round to the Hampstead Heritage Coastline there are loads of interesting points to see and experience from the water.

And you can also, from Cowes, paddle all the way up the River Medina to Newport and there are so many marinas along the way.

Cowes could also be a good place to attempt a crossing of the Solent if you wanted as it is one of the closest points with the span being only about 2 kms here.

Freshwater Bay Kayaking

Freshwater Bay is highly recommended for those seeking stunning cliff and coastal views from the water.

You can embark here on an unforgettable adventure through the mystical caves nestled beneath the enchanting chalk cliffs. 

To safely explore these hidden wonders, we recommend seeking guidance from a knowledgeable local. 

Glide through the picturesque bays of Watcombe and Scratchells, carved from the same mesmerising chalk, for an extraordinary kayaking experience. 

Don’t miss the chance to witness the secrets that lie within these captivating formations as you paddle about this part of West Wight.

This is our favourite area of the island and we think it is best kayaked at high tide.

With crystal-clear waters on a summer’s day, you’ll enjoy paddling along the dramatic coastline. As a more exposed spot, it is better suited for experienced kayakers.

This also makes it an ideal place to paddle board (SUP) if you’re into that sort of thing.

Check out Kayaker MIKE JENNIGNS as he traverses the coastline and through some caves near Freshwater Bay.

Kayaking The Needles and Lighthouse

Kayaking around The Needles and the Lighthouse off the Isle of Wight is one of the most popular sea kayaking trips in the UK. This thrilling journey offers breathtaking views of the island’s chalk cliffs and the famous Needles rocks and lighthouse.

The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, close to Alum Bay. The lighthouse stands at the end of the formation, guiding vessels through the Solent.

Kayaking the Needles is an exhilarating experience and requires some planning due to the strong tides and changeable weather conditions. The journey is best suited for experienced sea kayakers due to its exposure and challenging conditions.

Kayaking Yarmouth

Yarmouth provides a unique kayaking experience thanks to its historic harbour and estuary. The long pier is fun to paddle around and there is plenty of coastline between Yarmouth towards Victoria Point and Fort Victoria to the west.

To the east of Yarmouth you’ll discover the Bouldnor Forest Nature Reserve which stretches probably 5 kilometres towards Thornless Bay which is just on the doorstep of Cowes.

Kayakers can also explore the Western Yar River which is navigable for a couple of kilometres when the water levels are higher and this offers a mix of calm, sheltered waters and open estuarine areas. 

Yarmouth is suitable for all skill levels and provides both relaxation and exploration opportunities.

Bembridge Kayaking

Bembridge is ideal for nature lovers, boasting a mixture of sandy beaches and rocky shorelines to explore via kayak. 

Its close proximity to Bembridge Ledge and wildlife-rich sand flats make it a perfect spot to witness coastal birds and marine life. 

Bembridge is located on the far east of the island and has a large natural harbour that’s worth a paddle. 

South of Benbridge you’ll discover Horseshoe Bay and Culver Cliff which are both interesting in their own right and best observed  from the water in our opinion.

Keep in mind that this area may require some extra caution due to possible tidal currents and exposed conditions as well as the heavy nautical traffic that comes out of Portsmouth and Southampton past Bembridge Point.

Kayaking Isle of Wight at the Needles lighthouse

Types of Kayaking Adventures About the Isle of WIght

The Isle of Wight offers a variety of kayaking adventures, catering to different skill levels and interests. The island presents unique opportunities to explore its stunning coastlines, discover hidden caves, and enjoy the diverse marine life.

Guided Kayak Tours on the Isle of Wight

For those who are new to kayaking or prefer a structured experience, guided tours are available on the Isle of Wight.

Experienced guides lead groups on kayaking trips, offering valuable insights about the local area, flora, and fauna. 

Some tour operators, like Tackt-Isle Adventures, provide sea kayak safaris for a fun and educational experience and these are “laid back” and suitable to anyone over 14 years of age.

Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is a popular activity on the Isle of Wight, with locations such as Freshwater Bay offering extreme scenery, including cliffs and caves.

The clear waters allow kayakers to enjoy a unique perspective of the island’s coastline. 

Paddlers can explore coastal shorebreaks and open water opportunities, providing a range of challenges for both beginners and seasoned kayakers.

Kayak Fishing Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight’s diverse marine life makes fishing kayaking an attractive option for both fishing enthusiasts and those seeking a more laid-back kayaking experience. 

Anglers can take advantage of the island’s abundant fish populations while enjoying the tranquil waters and scenic surroundings. 

Fishing kayaks are specifically designed to accommodate anglers, featuring rod holders and storage for tackle and catches.

We’ve not really done any Kayak Fishing here on the Isle of WIght but we’ve seen heaps of Kayak fishermen about the island and we’re assured that the Sea Bass are always about these parts.

For full details of licencing for kayaks and paddle boards in the UK read OUR COMPLETE WATERWAYS LICENCE GUIDE

Kayaking the Isle of Wight at Sandown Bay

Isle of Wight Kayak Safety Tips

When kayaking around the Isle of Wight, it’s essential to keep safety at the forefront of your mind when on the water especially if you plan any sort of extensive sea kayaking around the island. 

This article offers guidance on equipment, weather conditions, and understanding tides to ensure a fun and secure experience. But it is guidance ONLY – make sure you do your own due diligence and research.


Proper equipment is critical for staying safe while kayaking especially if you’re attempting something like a circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight.

Wear a well-fitted personal flotation device (PFD) at all times as a minimum.

Also, ensure that your kayak is in good condition and suitable for the environment you’ll be paddling in. 

Here is a list of essential equipment for those who are interested in some serious kayaking about the isle:
1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
2. Helmet (for rough conditions or sea caves exploration)
3. Paddle (obviously)
4. Spray skirt (for sit-in kayaks)
5. Dry bag (for personal belongings)
6. Bilge pump or sponge
7. Communication device (mobile phone or VHF radio)
8. Signalling equipment (whistle, mirror, or flare)
9. Ensure that all gear is in good working order before embarking on your journey.

Weather Conditions

Check the weather forecast before setting out on your kayaking adventure. 

Suitable weather conditions are crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. Be aware of the potential for sudden weather changes, which can create hazardous situations such as strong winds, large waves, and increased currents. 

If adverse weather is predicted, it’s best to postpone your trip or choose a more sheltered location. w

Don’t hesitate to modify or cancel your plans if conditions become unsafe.

Understanding Tides

Around the Isle of Wight, tides can significantly impact your kayaking experience. 

Familiarise yourself with the local tide charts and ensure you understand the potential implications of tidal movements on your planned route.

Paddling during slack water (the period around high or low tide) is often the safest and most comfortable option, as currents tend to be weaker at these times.

Keep in mind that the tide height can also influence access to certain areas, as some spots may become impassable or more dangerous during low tide. Always be prepared for changes in water level and have alternative options in mind if necessary.

Remember, safety is the number one priority when kayaking. By following these guidelines and being prepared, you can thoroughly enjoy your Isle of Wight kayaking adventure.

Isle of Wight Kayak Hire, Rental and Tuition Services

Many local providers, like Wight Water, offer kayak rentals and guided tours, ensuring visitors have the necessary equipment and expert guidance to truly appreciate the island’s natural beauty.

The Isle of Wight offers various options for watersports enthusiasts, particularly those interested in kayaking.

There are a number of local kayaking schools and rental services available, which cater to varying levels of experience and provide the equipment and guidance needed to explore the island’s picturesque coastlines and bays.

One reputed provider is Wight Water Isle of Wight, which offers a wide range of sit-on kayaks available for hire. For those who want to go solo, they offer single kayaks at £15.00 per hour, and for families or a group of friends, double kayaks can be rented at £20.00 per hour.

Another popular option is Tackt-Isle Adventures, which provides a variety of water activities including sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course, kayaking.

They welcome both seasoned pros and outdoor adventure novices, ensuring there is something for everyone.

For those seeking guided tours, a great choice is Tackt Isle’s two-hour sea kayak safari. With experienced and knowledgeable guides like George, you can be sure to have a fun and informative session out on the water.

For beginners or families with young children, Tackt-Isle Adventures Kayaking also offers supervised ‘splash’ sessions.
These easy-going, safety-covered sessions are perfect for those aged 8 or above and do not require any prior experience. The fully qualified instructors ensure an enjoyable time with various fun games and challenges.

In addition to the commercial services, there is also the Isle of Wight Canoe Club which organises pool sessions during the winter at West Wight Sports and Community Centre.

They offer a pathway for paddlers to progress from pool to open water and develop skills while participating in various trips and events throughout the year.

Isle of Wight Kayaking Extreme

Maybe not extreme to some of you but nevertheless quite extreme for most amateur kayakers – the Solent Crossing is seen as a major accomplishment that might propel your kayaking skills to new heights.

The good people at Fluid Adventures offer an amazing Isle of Wight Crossing adventure that is classed as a RED Tour. 

This means that you must be competent and there are a few recommended pre-requistes:

  • Proof of a  number of longer (25 km+) paddling trips
  • Some experience of being offshore in a kayak
  • A solid knowledge of rescue techniques
  • Sea Kayak Award skills are highly recommended

This is definitely a kayak tour to “Push your boundaries” as it is a long way from Hayling Island to Ryde and back again with often some tough winds and fast eddying tides to contend with.

Not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! 

Still whilst I am a good level Kayaker some of the more expert kayakers out there make the crossing look easy. Don’t believe me?

Then check out the guys from TRAVELS WITH PADDLES  crossing from Hayling Island to the Isle of Wight.

Kayaking the Isle of Wight | Our Conclusions

We love the serenity of a Kayaking ISle of Wight Experience and we particularly love the part of the island about Freshwater for its caves and coves.

All in all though the island has loads of great places to kayak, canoe and paddle board about and if you visit Wight and are at all interested in watersports and paddling, then trust us when we say, you won’t be disappointed with a paddle here.

We’ve spent a lot of time down here in the south of England Kayaking Portsmouth and Kayaking in the New Forest but the Isle of WIght presents something truly unique that almost feels like an experience outside of England.

The island seems so more laid back than the mainland and the pace of life here feels slower and friendlier – not sure if that’s just us or if everyone gets this impression.

Anyway, the undeniable facts are that the coast of the Isle of WIght is gorgeous, wild, dangerous and magnificent.

The perfect place to enjoy a Kayaking Isle of Wight experience.

Cheers for reading, stay safe, and happy paddling everyone!

Kayaking Isle of Wight

Kayaking to the Isle of Wight from the mainland is possible, but it requires careful planning and experience in open water kayaking. The Solent, the stretch of water between the mainland and the island, can have strong currents and tidal conditions. It is recommended to join organized kayak tours or consult with local kayak rental companies for guidance on this adventurous trip

The Isle of Wight has a coastline of approximately 70 miles (113 kilometers). Paddling around the entire island would cover this distance. However, circumnavigating the Isle of Wight by kayak is a challenging endeavour that requires advanced skills, experience, and knowledge of tidal conditions. It is recommended for experienced kayakers who are well-prepared and have the necessary equipment.

Yes, it is legal to kayak from mainland UK to the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is located just off the south coast of England and is separated from the mainland by the Solent, a stretch of water. Kayaking across the Solent to reach the Isle of Wight is a popular activity for experienced kayakers.

As well as adhering to the info above, it’s a good idea to inform the appropriate authorities, such as the Coastguard, about your plans and ensure you have the necessary safety equipment, including life jackets, communication devices, and navigation tools. Always prioritise safety and follow local regulations and guidelines when engaging in kayaking activities.

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