Whitecliff Bay is a popular fairweather anchorage not far at all from Bembridge.
It offers shelter from the West through to North West. If approaching the Solent from the East in darkness and looking for somewhere to stop till daylight this could be useful.
Quite apart from that it has a lovely sandy beach and a surprising number of facilities ashore. In fact you might find it easier to obtain provisions here than in Bembridge harbour itself. It is easy to find and enter even in the dark, but due attention must be paid to Bembridge Ledges nearby.... these are a real trap for the unwary.
For the yachtsman or motorboater the approach from the South and East are straightforward enough.
From the South identify the chalky Culver Cliff's with the conspicuous monument. The town of Sandown will be seen lying to the West. Once Culver Cliff is identified it is simply a matter of heading into Whitecliff Bay paying attention to the drying ledges extending eastwards from the steep to cliffs.
Keeping a good offing and then making for the waypoint given on the chart when it bears due north will work in darkness.
Approaching the Solent from the East there will be the shipping in the Nab Channel to contend with, as well as a strong tidal set that could be sweeping you towards the Solent or South West. Having passed the very conspicuous Nab Tower, continue heading west and pick up the West Cardinal buoy (YBY) West Princessa, (Q.(9).15s), or aim for the given waypoint. It is essential you do not allow yourself to be swept northwards towards the dangers of Bembridge Ledges, and that you positively identify the above-mentioned Cardinal buoy.
In darkness once past the West Princessa buoy a magnificent transit is available to help you in. Line up the West Princessa with the brightly lit Nab Tower... keeping these two in line behind you will see you directly in. Prior to reaching the West Princessa, you can use the light of the Nab Tower behind you and the West Princessa in front of you to keep you on a direct track towards Whitecliff Bay (I discovered these transits more than 20 years ago when GPS was but a dream). With the dangers of the extensive ledges nearby it is essential to discover and allow for the set of the tide.
From the North keep a good offing passing St Helens Fort (off Bembridge) and head in a generally south easterly direction leaving the easterly Cardinal buoy marking Bembridge Ledge on your starboard side. A swing to starboard bringing you on to a SSW heading will bring you towards the West Princessa Cardinal buoy mentioned previously and when close enough to positively identify it a further swing to starboard onto a generally westerly heading will bring you into Whitecliff Bay. It is not a good idea to try and cut corners around the Bembridge Ledges, they are steep, hard and unforgiving. At high water they can't be seen, but at LWS the extent can be judged. There is an excellent photo in the gallery showing the ledges dried out....
Simply nose your way into the middle of the sandy bay and anchor to suit draft.
The chart doesn't look too promising showing extensive shallows, but in practice especially at neaps it is possible to get fairly close in. The holding ground seems reasonable.... I have anchored here many times and never dragged. In certain conditions a horrible roll can set in the anchorage, and in other conditions landing on the beach in the dinghy can be wet. This is not the norm however and if you pick your conditions a pleasant day or two could be spent here, with no anchoring charges and a beach for the kids.
From seawards it doesn't look too promising but.... if you mission it ashore in the dinghy and make your way up the cliff via the steps or the path you will come to a giant caravan park, packed full of holidaymakers during the season. Here you will find all kinds of facilities including basic provisions, restaurants, takeaways and bars. In fact all the essentials for caravanning and camping are available here, so the place is truly handy for the boater.
On the beach itself there were two handy cafes, from which you can admire your boat but we believe one of them has closed
In many ways it is far more straightforward to do a bit of basic provisioning here than in Bembridge harbour. At Bembridge whether you are on the new pontoons at the Duver or in Bembridge Marina you will be faced with a very long walk to get to Bembridge Village and its shops and facilities. St Helens although closer (and still a good hike) only has one small store.
The Southern Vectis No 10 bus calls nearby for transport to rest of the island via Sandown or Bembridge.
Beach cafe throughout the season... eat while admiring your boat at anchor.
All in all a surprisingly useful and pleasant stop in settled weather.