Things to see and do at Compton Bay and Downs
Spend a day at one of the Isle of Wight’s best swimming spots. From its sandy beach to open downland with fine views over to Tennyson Down and The Needles, there’s plenty of space to explore, search for fossils, spot local wildlife, surf, cycle or go horse riding.
Play on the beach
Compton Bay has a firm sandy beach, and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it's perfect for swimming. It isn’t too crowded, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond.
Search for fossils
The Isle of Wight is the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe. In Compton Bay, look for fossils on areas of the beach recently uncovered by the tide, amongst the loose gravel and stones.
- Fossilised dinosaur bones and teeth are most commonly black and shiny, with a honeycomb texture.
- Fossilised wood is also black but less dense, without a honeycomb pattern.
- Don’t miss the large three-toed iguanodon foot casts at the base of the cliffs just to the east of Compton Bay car park at Hanover Point.
Compton Bay is the best place for surfing on the Isle of Wight, with convenient beach access from the three National Trust car parks.
Lying on the southern shore of the Isle of Wight, the shallow bay receives good waves from the prevailing south westerly winds.
The best conditions are low to mid tides, with winds from the south-east or north-north-west, when the swell can be anything from 2 to 5ft.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing
Compton Bay is an ideal place for windsurfing beginners, but Brook Bay to the east is better for intermediates.
Kitesurfing is popular on the Isle of Wight. There are areas to suit all skill levels but to stay safe among swimmers and surfers, it’s best to use Brook Bay.
Please note: there are no regular lifeguards operating in Compton Bay.
Walk your dog
Dogs love the breezy walk over the grassy downs at Compton, as well as racing through the tide along the beach.
Beach restrictions apply mid-May to September along Compton Beach but you can walk with your dog between Brook Chine and Hanover Point all year round.
Ride your horse
The bridle paths over Afton, Compton and Brook Down are perfect for horses, being firm under foot and with wide vistas. There are numerous car parks close by for horse boxes.
The off-road Tennyson Trail crosses National Trust land as it passes over Afton Down, Compton Down, Brook Down and Mottistone Down.
This is one of the classics of Isle of Wight cycling, a wonderful chalk track along the ridge tops (be warned that it isn't flat).
There are also more gentle, quiet country lanes and routes to take you from the ferry terminal to National Trust spots on the island.
Go fossil hunting and discover history on a gigantic scale, with dinosaur footprints, fossilised oyster shells, ammonites, flint made from ancient sponges and modern-day shipwrecks
Try out the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities children can enjoy by the sea, from paddling or swimming, to catching crabs and skimming stones.
While canoeing and kayaking are great ways to experience nature and keep fit, they can be dangerous if you don't follow the guidelines. Learn how to stay safe with our advice and guidance.
Discover the 780 miles of beautiful coastline in our care. Plan your next coastal adventure, whether you want to explore soft, sandy beaches or rugged, windswept cliffs.
Explore the dramatic coastline of the Isle of Wight, with its magnificent beaches and cliff-top walks offering open views and beautiful wildflowers.
Discover more than 5,000 acres of countryside on the Isle of Wight, from rolling downs and magical woods to a National Nature Reserve, with plentiful wildlife-spotting opportunities.