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Five Fantastic Fossil Hunting Beaches on the Isle of Wight

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by Fiona Trowbridge (subscribe)
I am a freelance travel writer creating memories with a 'can do' mind set. I enjoy stepping outside my comfort zone to explore, learn & share. Visit my blog at www.fionatrowbridge.com
Published January 13th 2019
Do you fancy being a real life dinosaur hunter?
Wondering what to do with the kids on the beach this summer?

Why not take them on a real-life dinosaur hunt.

The Isle of Wight off the south coast of England is one of the best places in Europe for finding fossilised dinosaur bones and it even has its own dinosaur museum.

The tiny island measuring 26 miles by 14 miles is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to major cities like Portsmouth, Southampton and London and it is particularly popular with families because it has miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches, many of which are rich in fossils.

Fossil Hunting in the Shingle on Yaverland Beach
Fossil Hunting in the Shingle on Yaverland Beach


If you thought fossils were something only found in museums then you may be surprised to know that you can walk along a beach and find your own dinosaur bone. Well, that's exactly what you can do on the Isle of Wight, which makes it an ideal activity for your dinosaur-crazy kids.

The Geology Bit

The rocks on the Isle of Wight are all sedimentary muds, clays, limestones or sandstones and those on the south side of the island are very different from the rocks on the north. They are separated by a line of chalk that runs right across the island from the caves of the nostrils at Whitecliff Bay on the east to the Needles in the west.

Isle of Wight Map for Fossil Hunting
Isle of Wight Map for Fossil Hunting


Although the Isle of Wight is famous for its dinosaur fossils, there are more than just dinosaur bones to be found. Due to the age range of the rocks, 120 million to 40 million years old, some of the other fossils you can also find are ammonites, crocodiles, shark teeth, fish and bothriodon, an extinct hippopotamus about the size of a pig.

Fossilised Fish Scales from the Isle of Wight
Fossilised Fish Scales from the Isle of Wight


Where Can I Find These Fossils?

There are many great bays on the Isle of Wight which are rich with different types of fossils.

Here are five of the best.

Forelands Beach at Bembridge on the eastern side of the island has a raised limestone rocky platform at low tide where you can spot turtle, crocodile and shark teeth fossils.

At Yaverland beach and along towards the chalk cliffs of Culver is rich in dinosaur fossils, shark teeth, chalk ammonites and echinoids, fossilised sea urchins. It's also very close to the dinosaur museum, Dinosaur Isle, so if you find something interesting, you can take it along to the museum for identification.

Horseshoe Bay is at the western end of the Sandown Bay at Shanklin. If you continue walking east along the shoreline, at low tide you will come to a bay full of rock pools. Stay away from the bottom of the cliff as the rocks fall without warning but keep your eyes open and you may find fossilised sponges, shells and black ammonites in the rock pools. It's also a great place to go rock pooling.

Brook Bay is one of the most famous dinosaur beaches on the Isle of Wight with the chance of finding some well-preserved dinosaur vertebrae and limb bones.

At Yarmouth, you can find the younger fossils, crocodile bones, teeth, armour plating and coprolite (fossilised poo), you may even find bothriodon bones and turtle carapace pieces.

120 Million Year Old Coprolite
120 Million Year Old Coprolite


If you need some help on where to look or see some examples of the types of fossils you can find, you can always visit Dinosaur Isle or Jurassic Jim's Fossil Shop for advice and tide times.
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Why? Why not go on a real dinosaur hunt
When: Anytime
Where: Beaches and Bays all over the Isle of Wight
Cost: Free
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