The Isle of Wight is famed for it’s diverse landscapes and interesting history. The jewel in the crown must surely be the beaches and St Helens beach is definitely one of my top ten. Here’s a rough guide to the beach and the Duver.
I love the beach, the tranquillity, the wide-open spaces, the views, there’s nowhere better. On the Island there’s a beach to suit everyone, whether you’re looking to paddle board at Freshwater, make sandcastles at Ryde, or search for dinosaur fossils at Compton Bay. My own choice would be somewhere to take Nigel the Labrador, he loves nothing better than a swim in clear waters and I enjoy the sand in between my toes and the chance to breathe in some sea air. St Helens ticks all my boxes, sitting opposite Bembridge harbour and overlooking the Solent, dotted with ancient sea forts and passing ships. The beach is backed by the Duver, a large grassed area linking the village to the beach. It was once a Victorian golf course but these days it's a designated National Trust public area and perfect for dog walking and ball games.
To get there you can either take the walkway from the Bembridge side of St Helens village (this joins the Duver and then over to the beach) or, from the centre of the village walk down the road (take care because it’s single lane and very narrow) to the footpath which leads off to the right. This too joins the Duver. If car is your choice of transport, there is pay and display parking at the beach, but space is limited and you may be disappointed during high season so aim to get there early.
The beach itself is flat and sheltered with sand and shingle. In summer it’s a great place for families who bring along kayaks, inflatables and paddle boards and the slipway makes access easy. During high season the beach is cleaned everyday so you can be assured it’ll be free from litter. A promenade runs along the length of the beach so you can walk from end to end without getting sandy toes if you wish.
The Baywatch on the Beach café opens during the summer and offers the obligatory ice cream selection along with drinks and snacks. Seating is available both inside and out so you can choose to shelter from the suns rays or make the most of it.
At the easterly edge of the beach sits the Old Church, built in Saxon times it’s now used as a sea marker for passing ships and painted white. Beyond this lies Priory Bay which can be reached at low tide. If rock pooling is your thing then this is the area to go. Looking out to sea, the Solent forts sit proudly, protecting the Island from Napoleonic invaders (or so it was thought when they were built in the 1800’s). These days they have several uses and one is a hotel. During August each year, when the tide is at its lowest, an unofficial fort walk takes place. Just be prepared to get wet feet and be quick, the window of opportunity is only 40 minutes!
We have a wonderful choice of self catering holiday homes in St Helens. Take a look at our collection here and start planning your Island escape.