Isle of Wight Travel
All you need to know about travelling to the Isle of Wight
There are three cross Solent ferry operators:
On the Island, there are two Public Transport operators.
There are variables that can influence your choice of ferry route.
For a day trip, there is no need to bring your vehicle, especially if your chosen route is on the South Eastern and North Western corners of the Island. For instance: Sandown, Shanklin, Brading, and Yarmouth. Due to either there being good transport links from the ferry port, or the Island side ferry port is close to your start point.
If you need to drive to your departure port, and then continue on foot, the table below will show what operators have nearby parking.
If you are coming for a multi-day break, by car, any ferry operator will suffice. On foot, ideally you should choose a route that serves a destination port that is nearest to you final destination.
Prices vary for vehicles, depending on the time of year. and other factors that the Ferry Operators do not divulge. As with airlines, there are no fixed prices. If demand is high, expect to pay more - especially in the peak Summer months, and on public holidays.
There are often advertised deals, which are worth looking out for.;
Also, the more passengers in the vehicle, the more economical it will be - obviously.
You can turn up not booked and often get on a ferry. The Vehicle ferries often allow spaces for the emergency services, and they are often under capacity outside of peak periods. Expect to pay the most expensive price though, and expect a wait if it's busy.
Don't fret if you miss your booked ferry slot. There are small financial penalties - especially if the next ferry is in a more 'expensive time ' slot. These penalties are rarely enforced. You will though, be processed on a first come first served basis. Those who have booked for that ferry will get priority. The not booked will be processed, generally according to their arrival time.
Foot passenger prices are generally fixed bi-annually, and vary according to the operator, The variance in prices between operators should not be significant enough to influence your choices when travelling by foot.
Foot passengers on all routes, DO NOT have to book in advance, it's on a first come, first served basis. If you turn up in time for a foot ferry - you will usually get on that ferry.
Passports are not required on the Isle of Wight. Don't Laugh.....
Finally, and importantly. All routes will become very busy during the Isle of Wight Festival. I'm not saying don't travel during this event. Just be aware that If you are coming by foot, the queues will be very long. The upcoming Festival date is:
|Wightlink||Car Ferry||Yes||Yes||40 mins||Hourly||Yes||Lymington Pier||None|
|Red Funnel||Catamaran||No||No||25 mins||Hourly||Yes||Southampton Central
(15 mins by bus)
|Red Funnel||Car Ferry||Yes||Yes||55 mins||Hourly||Yes||Southampton Central
(15 mins by bus)
|Wightlink||Car Ferry||Yes||Yes||45 mins||Hourly||No||No||None|
|Wightlink||Catamaran||No||Yes||22 mins||Hourly||No||Portsmouth Harbour||Ryde Pier Head|
|Hovertravel||Hovercraft||No||No||10 mins||30 mins||Yes||Portsmouth & Southsea - by bus||Ryde Esplanade|
Bringing Your Vehicle?
The earlier you book your vehicle, and the more flexible you are - the cheaper it will be.
I suggest you try booking a ferry to get a quote for your planned trip.
Cowes equals West Cowes
Officially, there are two towns: Cowes and East Cowes. Both are situated on either side of the banks of the River Medina
This can be confusing to non-locals. Even Red Funnel refers to Cowes as 'West Cowes' to stop any confusion.
West Cowes = Cowes - Passenger Ferry only.
East Cowes = East Cowes - Car Ferry only.
East Cowes is on the Eastern banks of the River Medina.
Cowes, or "West Cowes" is on the Western banks of the River Medina.