Located on the north coast of the Isle of Wight, Cowes is a popular destination. It’s often the first spot tourists see since it’s where most ferry terminals are.
Between nearby wildlife parks, restaurants, and museums, there is plenty to do in Cowes. However, relaxing at the beach remains a popular activity. Let’s take a closer look at the top beaches near Cowes and across the Medina River if you’re staying in East Cowes.
Cowes Beach is a small sand and shingle beach that runs along Queen’s Road. This spot is easy to access if you’re staying in Cowes, and it’s a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and watching the ships go by. It’s also a dog-friendly spot.
There is a breathtaking view of the English Coast, and you can take a stroll to Egypt Point, the northernmost point of the island. The historical lighthouse makes for a fun photo op.
Cowes Beach is also the starting point of the Round the Island Race that takes place every year in June. This beach is within walking distance of most Cowes hotels, but you can also take bus route 32 and get off at Egypt Hill or Prince’s Esplanade.
Gurnard Bay is one of the beaches in Cowes that is popular for swimming and water sports. It’s a public beach located near Shore Road and the Prince’s Esplanade in North Cowes.
This sand and shingle beach can be crowded in the summer, but it’s one of the best spots for sailing, surfing, or standup paddle boarding. The Gurnard Sailing Club offers youth sailing classes if you have children.
The Gurnard Village Green Playground is a fun and relaxing nearby spot where your children can run and play after swimming at the beach.
You can easily access this dog-friendly beach by foot if you’re staying in the west or north area of Cowes, but you can also hop on bus route 32 and get off at Gurnard Heights, Albert Road, or Solvent View Road. Nearby accommodations include the Woodvale Hotel, Briary Cottage, and the New Holmwood Hotel.
Thorness Bay Beach
If you’re looking for Cowes beaches with more room, you’ll have to head west of the city. Great Thorness and Thorness Bay Beach are quiet areas that are ideal for observing wildlife.
The Newtorn River runs in the area and leads to a two-mile pebble beach. It’s a secluded spot where you can watch the boats go by or enjoy the sunset.
The beach is part of a larger area of special scientific interest. This area covers more than 86 hectares, where you can see butterflies, red squirrels, and over 100 species of birds. At low tide, the beach is a favourite spot for finding cockles, periwinkles, mussels, and more.
There are some nearby accommodations with the Thornless Bay Holiday Park and some camping options at Whippnace Farm.
Unless you’re staying at the nearby holiday park, you’ll need a vehicle to access the beach. All you have to do is follow Roll Hills Road from Cowes to Shalfleet and take a turn at Whipsnake Farm. You’ll have to follow a footpath to get to the beach.
Hamstead Point Beach
If you keep going further west, you’ll get to Cranmore and Hamstead Point Beach. Hamstead is a small rural community, and Hamstead Point Beach is a quiet spot.
This small beach lacks the facilities you’ll find at most Cowes beaches, but it’s an amazing spot for birdwatching or finding fossils.
You can access this quiet beach from Shalfleet or Cranmore, but you can also follow a coastal path from Thorness Bay to Hamstead if you’re up for a hike.
East Cowes Beach
East Cowes is a small town located across the River Medina. There is a small shingle and sand beach with some great views of the Cowes marina.
This dog-friendly beach is popular among locals and tourists. There is a beautiful wooded area behind the beach, and you’ll find a fun playground if you head east from the beach.
East Cowes Beach is within walking distance if you’re staying in East Cowes, but you’ll have to take the chain ferry at the end of Medina Road if you’re in Cowes.
Keep in mind that this small beach is mostly underwater at high tide. It’s best to check the tide schedule beforehand.
Osborne Beach is further down on the east coast. This relaxing sandy beach gets its name from the Osborne House, the luxurious mansion where Queen Victoria used to stay when she visited the island.
It’s one of the best beaches near East Cowes. It’s usually quiet, and there is plenty of room. There is a splendid view of Osborne Bay, and it’s an ideal spot for sunrises.
You can also see Queen Victoria’s bathing machine, a contraption that would shield the queen from onlookers as she got from her home to the beach.
There are plenty of other things to do in Osborne, including visiting the Osborne House or seeing the Swiss Cottage.
If you want to avoid crowds, we recommend Woodside Beach near Fishbourne. It’s a quiet beach surrounded by woods.
The Woodside Coastal Retreat and Woodside Bay Retreat are two excellent accommodations to consider if you want to avoid crowded areas during your stay. You can get to Fishbourne by taking bus routes four and five from Cowes.
If you follow bus routes four or five from Cowes to Ryde, you’ll discover a quaint town with some amazing restaurants and a lovely beach.
Ryde is approximately ten miles away from Cowes. There is a large beach with soft sand, and it’s an ideal spot for seeing egrets, seagulls, or sanderlings.
The main beach is Appley Beach. It runs along Garden Walk and Appley Walk. There are some convenient parking options and several beachside cafes. With the Ryde Rowing Club nearby, it’s also a popular spot for water sports.
If you head west to the other side of Ryde Pier, you’ll find a second smaller beach called Ryde West Sands. This small beach is within walking distance of downtown Ryde and the Western Gardens.
There are several beaches in Cowes, including Cowes Beach, East Cowes Beach, and Gurnard Bay. However, these beaches tend to be small and can get crowded quickly, especially at high tide. We recommend exploring other options by heading to Thorness Bay, Osborne, or Ryde if you want more room.