Ventnor - the British MadeiraBack
Similar to Bonchurch, Ventnor was built on the sheltered slopes of St Boniface Down and takes full advantage of the Gulf Stream. The town grew up in the Victorian era, after the island was made popular for summer holidays by Queen Victoria. At this time many beautiful Victorian mansions were built on the terraces taking full advantage of the seaviews looking far out over the channel. In recent years many of the Victorian houses have been restored to their former splendor. The town now hosts a number of growing music and food events.
Ventnor Harbour, opened in 2003 offers a fair-weather Haven for small sailing boats and powerboats travelling round the back of the island. It is also the base for a community of fishing boats catching and selling seafood into Ventnor Pubs and Restaurants year round. Swimming on Ventnor Beach is safe and Lifeguards have recently been appointed. The bay is a typical bucket and spade type destination with plenty of pubs and cafes selling a good variety of food.
Further along the coastal footpath to the west is Steephill Cove, a popular sheltered bay, with numerous cafes and restaurants again selling seafood. Not to be missed is one of Mandy’s homemade crab pasties, made freshly with crab caught from the cove.
The Botanic Gardens is further up the cliff. Due to the mild climate of The Undercliff many Mediterranean and even tropical plants thrive here. The walk along the cliff top through the St Lawrence Undercliff is one of one of the best walks on the Isle of Wight. Heading towards the Island’s most southerly point the rugged cliff tops give way to countless secluded coves and bays. Looking back towards Ventnor it is also the best place to see the natural terracing of the Undercliff.
Ventnor nick named ‘Curio Capital of the Isle of Wight’ has all the usual general amenity stores. More interesting, however are the speciality shops, selling rare books, antiques, unusual craft, furniture and general bric-a-brac. Wight Light Gallery in Pier Street is one of the best galleries on the island. The unusual landscapes of the Undercliff attract many artists and photographers giving rise to some exceptional artwork. A good selection of this is displayed at the gallery with prices starting at around £10.