Within 48 hours I traversed mighty hills and sunk into epic sunsets. I chilled out on crisp sky-blue harbours, looked across horizons with horses and flung myself into kickass off-road driving. Taking just a 3.5 hour drive from London (plus a jolly 45 minute ferry trip), you’ll see the scenery morph from city slickers to rural explorers as you venture to the Isle of Wight.
It’s southern England’s magical secret and once you get out of the tourist hot spots, it really is an explorer’s paradise on this adventure island.
The lovely chaps at Vauxhall loaned me their new turbo diesel Mokka X for my holiday in the Isle of Wight. It’s an action-packed set of wheels. The SUV does a mighty fine job whizzing you from the city to your next off-road adventure, with 4×4 capability and ease.
This is coming from a girl who drove from the UK to Mongolia and back for the Mongol Rally last year in an old banger. If only the rules had allowed me to do that trip in this car!
A road trip holiday in the Isle of Wight is a dream. You’re on an island, so you’re not gonna get too lost. Roads are well signposted and the Mokka X’s ‘Destination Download’ is just a button away if you need assistance.
If you were to drive right across the island, it would take you 45 minutes tops with its 23 x 13 mile size. Some roads are narrow but the Vauxhall Mokka X handled everything like a pro.
The beauty of the Isle of Wight’s terrain is that its rugged sandy beaches, satisfying hiking trails, refreshing dips in the water and good old pub lunches are never far away at all.
Me and my friend David put our foot on the accelerator and went exploring to our heart’s content. We turned down intriguing tree-lined country lanes. Climbed twisting, sun-kissed coastal stretches. Rolled through enchanting villages. Dipped into hidden sea coves.
We didn’t see one ugly thing. Even their shopping centre in the capital of Newport looks nice (because maybe I forgot to pack my bikini – whoops!).
It is indeed the Isle of ‘Wight’, which is a middle English word meaning ‘living being or creature’. It’s all a bit mystical. It does feel like another world here, even though the island is just 4 miles from the mainland.
The adventurous writer and television presenter Bear Grylls, who eats all those weird bugs, hails from here! Other people who don’t hail from here but certainly decided to stay here for extended periods of time include Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin.
Talking of Darwin…the Isle of Wight has recently been declared the ‘Dinosaur Island’ of the UK! Turns out this slice of Mother Nature was the perfect spot for our reptilian friends and so far the remains of 25 different species have been found.
The Isle of Wight is also reportedly possessing insane levels of paranormal activity. So when you’re staying in your accommodation, bring an extra security blanket.
The Isle of Wight is well-known for being a ‘family’ destination (it’s where my Mum and Dad used to take me back when I was little!). But I wanted to come back here to see just how wild it could be for adult adventurers. Once you get out of the ferry port and away from the tourist spots, the Isle of Wight really starts to shine!
I recommend heading West as soon as you can on the A3054 to really get off the beaten path and experience some country coastal living. Yes, if you forget your bikini, you’ll pass through Newport for last minute essentials on this road too! You’ll be driving through delightful little villages and then suddenly ‘bham!’ You’ll hit clear blue waters at Yarmouth Harbour and everything is right with the world.
Keep heading West and take some time exploring the little beaches and sea coves. I particularly enjoyed my sunset dip in Colwell Bay but Totland Bay and Alum Bay are also good spots to dip your toes into!
Rising proudly 30 metres out of the sea, these mighty stacks of chalk are the icon of the Isle of Wight. You can get a cable car down to the Needles and then a boat to get right up close. I however opted for the sunset view after driving all the way up to the top of the hill. A good time to go as everyone has gone home by this point (and no parking fees!).
Make sure you get yourself on a horse too. I’m a complete newbie but once I was in the saddle and got over my initial thought of, ‘Ooh err, this is pretty high up here’…then it really was a treat. I went trotting with Hill Farm Stables in Freshwater. They’re a lovely bunch and the Freshwater area is stunning.
Not everyone’s cup of tea when it’s an activity revolving around the 5am mark but it is so worth it. We stayed with locals at their AirBNB and this little secret dock is on their doorstep. Getting there, down many a country road, was a breeze with the Vauxhall Mokka X.
We just scratched the surface on this weekend holiday in the Isle if Wight. If you’re looking for more adventures, it’s possible to go kayaking, mountain biking, coasteering, mountain boarding and paragliding and so much more. I’ll be back!
It was a joy to explore the Isle of Wight in the Mokka X. Here’s four of my favourite features.
When you need more traction, the Vauxhall Mokka X has 4×4 electronic all wheel drive capability. This makes it easy to switch from the city to the countryside. I took the Mokka X down plenty of bumpy country roads and up steep winding hills.
By downloading the ‘My Vauxhall’ app, you can have handle your Mokka X on a whole new level. You can remotely unlock the car at a greater distance than the fob reaches. You can also check lots of current stats about your vehicle, including its fuel levels and tyre pressures. Your OnStar account management is also accessed here (which gives you WiFi in the car throughout your journey and automatic crash response). Nice!
Need the nearest petrol station? Looking for your next adventure spot? Press the OnStar button to call an operator 24/7 for directions and they’ll do the hard work for you. They’ll send everything to your navigation system right there and then, so you can get from A to B in a jiffy.
Be a good driver. Connect your phone with Apple car play. You’ll be able to use the Vauxhall Mokka X’s touchscreen to access your phone’s spotify playlist and other apps. Time to bring out the road trip tunes!
There’s only one way to get to the island and that’s by ferry or hovercraft! You can leave from three spots on the mainland in the UK: Portsmouth, Lymington and Southampton. You need to book your ferry tickets in advance if you’re taking your car. This can be as short as one hour before the scheduled sailing time but obviously, the earlier you book, the cheaper tickets are going to be! I booked with Wightlink (which leaves from Lymington and Portsmouth) but you can also travel with Red Funnel (from Southampton).
There are plenty of places to stay on the island but I really recommend AirBNB for this trip, particularly if you’re on the West coast. If you’re an AirBNB newbie you can get $35 off your first stay with me.
Taking a holiday in the Isle of Wight is a fantastic reminder that the southeast of England possesses such outstanding beauty. The Isle of Wight really does pack an adventure punch and I’m already planning my return! Bring on the next road trip.