The Isle of Wight is a dog-friendly island; so much so that Portsmouth-based ferry company Wightlink recently held the first-ever Wightlink Woof Awards to celebrate the best places to stay, eat and drink and visit.
Take the FastCat from Portsmouth Harbour railway station and you’ll be in Ryde in just 22 minutes. Or take the car and leave from Wightlink’s ferry port in Gunwharf, arriving in Fishbourne 45 minutes later.
Here are some of Wightlink’s recommendations for the best places to visit. For more information, go to wightlink.co.uk.
1. Salty sea dogs
All dogs travel free with Wightlink – when accompanied by a well-behaved owner, of course. On a clear day, they can amble on the ferries’ outer decks to feel the wind in their hair or when the weather’s not so good, they can enjoy the short crossing inside in the dedicated pet areas.
There’s something special about stepping on board a Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth – be it on foot or with your car – as it signals the start of your Isle of Wight adventure…
2. Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is home to 97 donkeys and 26 ponies, all of whom are either rescued or abandoned. They live in 55 acres of countryside in the Wroxall valley where they get first-class care and welfare.
The sanctuary is not only a place to go for beautiful walks – including a wildlife meadow and a stream, giving dog owners a great place for a picnic – but the resident donkeys absolutely love dogs and come to the fences to interact with them.
This attraction encourages people to bring their dogs as they’re considered part of the family as well. What’s more, there’s even ice cream for dogs at the on-site café, where your four-legged friends are very welcome.
3. Off The Rails
Set along an old railway line in Yarmouth’s former train station, Off The Rails restaurant overlooks the outstanding natural beauty of the Yarmouth Marshes and Mill Copse.
Off the Rails was one of the first places on the Isle of Wight to openly advertise and welcome dogs and many owners flock there for their dog-friendly menu and dog ice cream for dessert.
Resident dog Hunter (also known as The Station Master), usually goes between tables to greet customers. Photos of regular pups also adorn their walls, making them a part of the restaurant experience.
4. Luccombe Manor
This clifftop country house hotel, with unique Victorian splendour, has breathtaking sea views and is a haven for your four-legged friend. Luccombe Manor in Shanklin has exceptional service for dogs staying at the hotel. It’s the little things that make all the
difference and that can be said here – from providing dog towels to a dog-friendly dining room (complete with breakfast sausages for the pups), they have dogs at the heart of their service.
Its location could not be better, with direct access to the dog-friendly beach below; the perfect place for your four-legged friend to stretch their legs and cool off in the sea.
5. Seagrove Beach
With many resort beaches on the Isle of Wight restricting access in the summer months, Seagrove Beach is one of the gems that welcomes dogs all year round. With lots of space and rocks for roaming, it’s the go-to beach for many Island dog owners.
The beach is popular for easy parking, tropical beach-like sands and walking routes around to Duver Beach and Ryde when the tide is just right. It’s perfect for a short or long beach walk where you can even drop into Lily’s for coffee and dog treats.
6. Walkies on Wight
There are more than 500 miles of footpaths through the Isle of Wight; woodland and clifftop trails, walks over the Downs, forest hikes, beachside rambles… everything your furry pal could dream of.
Many of the walks have safe areas where dogs can run free, and a lot take in dog-friendly beaches too.
Winner of the Woof Award for Best Walk, a great route along Freshwater Causeway takes in old railway lines, churches, wild flowers, fields, pretty boats, an old tide mill and – most importantly – a great dog-friendly pub stop at The Red Lion.