The Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was designated in 2019 and is recognised as an example of where local communities have found a way to live sustainably within their local ecosystems.  

We love sharing our beautiful Island with you, and we hope these tips help you tread lightly before, during, and after your trip. 

Sustainable travel to the Isle of Wight

Pack eco-friendly essentials

Prepare to leave no trace of your visit, bring reusable items if you can, such as a water bottle, reusable bag, and a lunch box, which will cut down on plastic waste left behind.

Eco-friendly toiletries, such as shampoo bars, are a great way to reduce your footprint.

You could even support an Island business before you arrive by purchasing a natural deodorant from Earth Conscious, or get your holiday t-shirts from Rapanui, an island base carbon-neutral clothing company whose recycled cotton t-shirts are made in a state-of-the-art wind-powered factory.

Getting to the Island

Arriving as a foot passenger

You can easily and quickly travel across to the Island at a time that suits you, with frequent crossings with Hovertravel, Red Funnel, and Wightlink.

You’ll be the first off when the ferry docks and with no customs passport checks, as you don’t need a passport to travel to the Island, you can easily hop on a bus to get to your destination. The Island is only 23 miles long, so you’re never far from where you need to be!

Another benefit of being a foot passenger is that if you’re early or late for your sailing, you’ll be able to use your ticket on another crossing if it’s on the same route and same day (subject to availability).

Hovertravel provides the fastest ferry route across the Solent and is the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service. Their passenger ferry service takes you directly to the shore at Southsea or Ryde in just 10 minutes.

Bringing your bike to the Island

You can bring your bike for free when travelling as a foot passenger on Hovertravel, Red Funnel Red Jet, and Wightlink FastCat.

Once you arrive on the Island, your holiday begins and you can start to explore over 200 miles of cycle routes!

Travelling in an electric car

You’ll receive 25% discount on your ferry crossing if travelling in an electric car on Red Funnel, and the Island has a range of public charging stations in public car parks and on street. You can view a list of electric vehicle friendly accommodation provides on our website.

Hop on the Hybrid Wightlink

The most sustainable way to cross the Solent (apart from swimming across!) is on board Wightlink’s environmentally friendly flagship Victoria of Wight. It’s the first hybrid energy ferry in England, combining battery power with conventional engines to sail between Portsmouth and Fishbourne, using 17% less fuel than the next largest ship on the route.

Not only that but the lift on board generates electricity through kinetic energy, warmth generated by the engine heats water, and motion sensors are used to control LED lights in lesser-used areas. 

Autumnal Cycling on the Isle of Wight

Travelling around the Island

It’s easy to turn your trip to the Isle of Wight into a hassle-free eco-friendly adventure by leaving your car at home. Buses, trains, bikes, and walking will keep your carbon footprint to a minimum, and you’ll benefit from better views, time to appreciate nature, and a more memorable experience of local life.

The Island Line railway on the Isle of Wight operates between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin, serving Smallbrook Junction, Brading, Sandown and Lake stations along the way.

Operating an extensive bus network across the Island, Southern Vectis’ green buses offer a regular and reliable service connecting all major towns, villages, beaches and accommodation. Did you know a double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and if you were to switch 1 journey in 25 to the bus, it would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions?

You could bring your own bike across to the Island or hire one while you’re here, including electric bikes for those challenging hills! There are routes to suit all abilities including off road bridleways and purpose made tracks on the former railway line and over 200 miles of cycle routes to enjoy.

Use these travel planners to help you get to your chosen destination without a car:

Sustainable things to do

As well as cycling around the Island, there are lots of family friendly walks from Sandown Bay to Shanklin Beach, Quarr Abbey woodland, Combley Great Wood, Ryde Esplanade to Appley Park, and even a Dinosaur safari. Or you could join one of the guided walks during the Isle of Wight’s Walking Festival in October.  

Did you know that you can get 20% off your entry to Osborne between 1 September 2023 and April 2024, if you show your bus or train ticket, or bicycle helmet?

Goodleaf Tree Climbing offers a 5% discount for tree climbers that travel to tree climbing on public transport or by bike or foot. It is a brilliant low impact adventure activity that takes place on a beautiful oak tree in Appley Park and is within walking distance of public transport including Wightlink Fast Cat and Hovertravel.  

Enjoy a picnic with a view and remember to bring your reusable bag to take all your rubbish to the nearest bin. 

© Good Leaf Tree Climbing

Eco-conscious accommodation providers

The Island has a wide choice of sustainable places to lay your head. Look out for IOW Green Tourism Award winners, as these businesses are part of Island are members of our Green Tourism Award which tells you that they are part of the campaign to reduce their carbon footprint, promote sustainable travel, and champion green initiatives, supporting the Island’s journey towards Net Carbon Zero. 

Tiny Homes Holidays is a boutique off-grid retreat, set in a natural grassy meadow on the edge of Parkhurst Forest. With eco toilets, refillable soaps, and a hefty amount of sustainable insulation and some solar panels.  Guests are encouraged to leave electricals at home and embrace plastic-free living.

For a West Wight option, try Tom’s Eco Lodge at Tapnell Farm – or bring your own tent to spend the night under the stars; The Orchards Holiday Caravan and Camping Park, set amongst the rolling countryside in Newbridge and Camp Wight, nestled in woodlands close to Yarmouth, are ideal spots.

Camp Wight have solar-heated hot water showers in a block clad in green oak harvested on-site and their geodesic domes have their own solar panels to power lights and device charging. The site is bordered by ancient woodland and the pitches are within juvenile woodland, which means the whole campsite is a massive carbon sink.

The Bay Boutique Bed & Breakfast at Freshwater, uses solar thermal and photovoltaic panels for their electricity, heating and hot water, and also have electric bikes available to hire so you can explore the Isle of Wight National Landscape (formerly known as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) at your leisure.

All Shanklin Holiday Homes are located on footpaths, either the coastal path or the Worsley Trail, and all apartments have bicycle parking. Their main building, Highlands, has solar panels across its roof and walls. They offer a car free travel guide, providing details for how to get every attraction on the island without a car either by foot, bus or train as well as details on the cycle tracks across the island and services such as Routefifty7 and Beryl. As well as providing all guests with complimentary Isle of Wight biscuits, they offer a shop local guide covering a selection of local produce providers in Shanklin and the surrounding area. 

Support local businesses

Sustainable travel is all about protecting and respecting the places you visit. Of course, preserving the environment is a big part of it: but it’s also about appreciating the culture of a place, and supporting its independent businesses.

The Isle of Wight has many local producers and gifted craftspeople who have amazing offerings to share. During British Food Fortnight, from the 16th September to 1st October 2023, you could give back to the community by choosing locally sourced food and drink from local producers, restaurants, and farmers’ markets. The Great Wight Bite takes place on 9th and 10th September Northwood House, Cowes for a weekend of gastronomic indulgence and cracking entertainment.

Not only does your support help sustain local businesses but purchasing local produce helps reduce food transportation miles.

© The Water Mill Calbourne

Choose ethical produce

There is a wide selection of eateries for vegans, vegetarians, and planet-conscious flexitarians on the Island.  Choose from Peach Vegan Kitchen in Newport, The Bay Vegan Deli and Coffee House in Sandown or CRAFT on Ryde Esplanade, an eatery offering plant-based hand-stretched sourdough pizzas, as well as a range of eco and ethical beers.

Others that are not exclusively vegan but keen to promote vegan choices include The Anchor in Cowes, Edulis Restaurant in Ventnor Botanic Gardens and The Sun Inn, Calbourne.

If self-catering, be sure to purchase delicious, handpicked tomatoes from Arreton, freshly picked garlic from Newchurch, newly churned cheeses from Briddlesford, locally caught Grey Mullet from Bembridge, or the delicious Isle of Wight honey.

For plastic-free refills from pasta to beauty products, Her Whey in Ryde, an independent zero-waste shop offering, will have everything you need.

And when you fancy an ice cream, local ice cream van, Plaza Ices, have introduced edible ice cream tubs to cut waste, as well as compostable spoons and eco napkins.

Buy souvenirs made by local artisans

Buy locally made gifts to take home as souvenirs to reduce the carbon footprint of imported items and sustain the local economy.

Mermaid Gin, hand-crafted on the Isle of Wight using ten ethically sourced botanicals, is a great choice. Mermaid Gin and Vodka were granted Net Zero by sustainability firm Good Business and awarded the Plastic-Free standard by A Plastic Planet. Crafted from recyclable glass, their bottle features a sustainably sourced natural cork stopper and compostable tamper-proof seal.

Slab Artisan Fudge in Cowes produces delicious handmade fudge packed in completely biodegradable and compostable packaging and My Funky Bags sells bags and towels made from recycled water bottles.

Wyatt & Jacks create bags and accessories from salvaged bouncy castles, excess deckchair fabric and old inflatables and Wight Apothecary create beautiful hand-made aromatherapy candles.

You’re sure to be spoilt for choice at Arreton Barns which showcases some of the best arts & crafts produced by local artisans.

Post-Holiday Sustainability

When you return home, consider making a donation to ‘Gift to Nature’, a charity that helps to look after the countryside and green spaces on the Isle of Wight Donate - Gift To Nature.

Or start your Christmas shopping, by purchasing loved ones planning a trip to the Island a Wight Gift Card to help sustain local businesses.

And, of course, in our social media world, compiling your top trip tips from the Isle of Wight and sharing them with friends and family is a great way to continue the circle of sustainable travel.