The Isle of Wight hovercraft hosted by Hovertravel is the only commercial year-round hovercraft service in the world. Operational since 1965, it has been transporting passengers at high speeds of 45 knots or about 80km/h. It can be a great experience to visit Queen Victoria’s summer island in the United Kingdom.
What is the Isle of Wight Hovercraft?
The first two 38-seat hovercraft were leased from the British Hovercraft Corporation in July 1965. The service started as a unique seasonal experience on the Isle of Wight route and the south of England.
The 12000TD currently in use carries 80 passengers at a time across the Solent. The Island Flyer and Solent Flyer are worthwhile experiences to enjoy on the Isle of Wight.
Why visit the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight holds great allure as a royal destination. In addition to its natural beauty, there are many more things to enjoy when you reach the Isle of Wight.
Snacks and Ladders Board Game Cafe
The Snacks and Ladders Board Game Cafe in Nodehill is a board games library. The game menu goes along with the restaurant menu. This award-winning cafe is a unique mix of fun games and comfortable dining.
Wildheart Animal Sanctuary
You can take the Hover Rover Rail from Ryde Pier to Sandown to visit this wildlife centre. Many rescued species thrive here. It is also famous for zoo owners walking tiger cubs on the beach.
Isle of Wight festival
This annual music festival in Newport is a highlight of the island's calendar. It is known to attract big names in music and global visitors.
Facilities with the Hovertravel hovercraft
The commercial passenger hovercraft service offers many facilities, making it a popular choice for tourists.
Once you are on board, you will find the hovercraft fully air-conditioned. Moreover, you can bring your dog with you. Other than Christmas and Boxing Day, the service is open year-round. It boasts large windows with views of the Solent and bright and spacious cabins so you can travel in style.
Car Park and Car Hire
Council-operated car parks are available near the Ryde and Southsea Hoverports, depending on your direction of travel. Long and short stay and disabled parking are available, as well as charging ports for electric vehicles.
The Enterprise Car Club allows on-the-go bookings to hire cars. These are available close to the Hovertravel terminal. Cancellations are free, and no deposit is required.
How to book a Hovertravel hovercraft ride
You can book tickets for your Hovertravel journey at hovertravel.co.uk. The hovercraft runs at least hourly and at 30-minute intervals at the beginning and end of the day. Timetables change seasonally but the hovercraft typically runs from around 06:30 to 20:30. When booking you can get a round trip or book a one-way outbound or return journey.
Passenger categories you can choose include:
- Infant passengers between 0-4 years
- Child passengers between 5-15 years
- Adult passengers between 16-59 years
- Senior passengers over the age of 60.
- Student passengers between 16-59 years
You can also add other attractions to your booking before checking out. These include the Hover Rover Rail, the Hover Rover Bus, and the IOW Steam Railway. You can then verify your booking details and provide personal information.
You can also create a connected HoverAccount, to make future bookings simpler. If you have a voucher or promo code, you can enter it here. If you are an older solo traveller, you can check out these helpful tips to have a fulfilling experience.
How much does a hovercraft ride cost?
Standard booking fares for the journey include:
Period Return (90 days)
£69 (2 adults, 3 children)
£80 (2 adults, 3 children)
£62 (1 adult, 3 children)
While infants travel free, their presence must be declared when making a booking.
Discounted fares are available for individuals with reduced mobility or disabled persons. Any accompanying individuals are not covered under the concessionary fare and must reserve a standard ticket. Proof of eligibility is required to qualify for the concessionary fare.
For an adult, these fares include £15 for a single return, £27 for a period return, and £18.60 for a day return. For a child, the prices are £7.70 for a single return, £13.80 for a period return, and £10.50 for a day return.
Island Resident Blue Card
Residents of the Isle of Wight are eligible for a free Blue Card, which makes them eligible for various discounts. They can get over 30% off-day returns and over 10% off adult period returns. Residents can sign up for the card online.
Discounts are only valid on trips from Ryde to Southsea. Day return discounts are applicable on adult, senior, and child fares, only available with online or over-the-phone booking.
Regular Traveller Fares
For passengers travelling regularly across the Solent, special fares are available. These are issued as e-tickets to your Hovertravel account. You simply scan the barcode on your phone, with no need for printed tickets.
Types of tickets available under this option include:
- Season tickets, with unlimited journeys for 1, 3, 6, or 12-month duration
- Hover academic tickets, for apprentices, students, teachers, or work training courses
- Flexi Tickets, available in batches of 10, 20, 40, 100, and 250 single return tickets
- NHS Professional tickets for NHS and primary care individuals travelling for work
- HoverTalent tickets for children travelling for lessons, clubs or talents
- Company tickets, for businesses with frequent use
Group bookings are available for day trips or holiday travel. With groups of 8 or more, discounts are applied. You can make group booking inquiries online to get a quote. The HoverExperience booking also lets you add extras to group or corporate bookings.
You can also add additional travel to group bookings. You can also book the Hoverbus to travel to the Southsea terminal from Portsmouth town centre and other locations. You can also access additional services, such as Lucketts Travel, Southern Vectis buses, and Island Line trains, through the same booking.
Discounted NHS patient fares are available for the patient plus one visitor. This fare applies to those with an NHS appointment, proof of which will need to be presented. Other discounts are available for passengers visiting a patient.
Special discounts are also available for visiting patients at Mountbatten Hospice. The Island Rescue Patient Transfer service is also available to assist patients in transferring back to the Island after a hospital stay on the mainland.
Day Return (with Wessex
Cancer Trust Daisy Bus)
Visitor to Patient
Mountbatten Hospice Visitor
Island Rescue Patient Transfer
*Prices correct as of September 2022. Age Times is not responsible for content on external websites.
Hovercraft Southsea Experience Flight
The 20-minute flight departing on the 19th of September from Southsea offers a unique experience for passengers. The flight will show off the capabilities of the hovercraft, including 360° high-speed turns, floating, and pilot commentary.
The ticket is only available via online booking. The fare is £22 for an adult, senior, or student, £12 for a child, and £5 for an infant. Booking options can be found under Excursions on the Journey Planner.
The HoverCare service is designed to offer assistance to those who need it. Trained staff are available to help patients and passengers with disabilities or limited mobility. The hovercraft and terminal have accessible facilities for all passengers. Equipment such as air defenders, wheelchairs, and walking frames are also available.
The ferry service also offers Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards to passengers. Passengers can wear these lanyards to indicate they might require additional support. The Ryde Terminal and the Southsea terminal have disabled car parks for disability card holders. Trained assistance dogs are also welcome on board with no charge.
Enjoying the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight boasts many beautiful attractions you can enjoy. Visitors can find many ways to access the wonders of the island. The Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth harbour and the passenger catamaran are both reliable options. However, the Hovertravel hovercraft is the most popular option among visitors. It also promises a unique and unforgettable experience.