Alum Bay is well known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs and stunning views across the Solent. Many homes around the world have a glass object filled with sand as a memento of a visit to Alum Bay and The Needles, but perhaps less well known is the recent history of Alum Bay.
Approximately 70 million years ago, the sea bed rose, was eroded and then sank beneath the sea again. The new sea was shallow and it laid down a series of sands and clays. Some 10 million years later, movement in the bedrock caused these sediments to be pushed nearly vertically to form the multi-coloured cliffs that are visible today.
The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica, and in their pure state are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals.
In the latter part of the 18th Century the first tourists started to arrive at Alum Bay and during the early part of the 19th Century it became an essential place to visit during an Island holiday. During the two World Wars, however, the Alum Bay area was heavily militarised and access to visitors was barred.