Top Tips for the Isle of Wight

May 28, 2015

With half term nearly over and the summer holidays just around the corner, we wanted to dedicate a series of posts to the wonders of the Isle of Wight, a regular destination for the five boys.

 

I have spent the last 30 plus summers in the IOW and there really is nowhere quite like it. A land that time has truly forgotten, with some of the world's most beautiful beaches - truly - but only when the sun is shinning and the most extraordinarly kitch 'attractions' you'll ever come across.

 

Most of my time on the island is spent in a sleepy village called Seaview where the owner of the toy shop hasn't aged in 30 years and both his stock and his prices have remained the same. But now that the boys are growing up we are exploring the rest of the island and have been delighted by what we have found and rediscovered. Here are my top tips for boisterous boys (and girls) making the trip across the Solent.

 

Blackgang Chine: where pirates really used to roam. It's an expensive day out but you can return for free within seven days so do. Don't be stung by the various slot machine games. And if your cowboys like guns bring your own or you will be forking out more dosh for bangers and pistols in the variously themed adventure playgrounds. The views out to sea are quite something and the water slide was a real hit and you don't have to pay extra for that! Beware the squirting dinosaur. Blackgang has a sister in the form of Robin Hill which has more weirdly themed playgrounds but you have to be 5+ for the fun rides.

 

Carisbrooke Castle: a proper castle, not a vague ruin of one, where sword fighting is positively encouraged by the enthusiastic actors playing their medieval parts most convincingly. Charles I was imprisoned here and it was used by Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Beatrice,  as her summer residence. During peak season there are all sorts of tournaments that you can heckle at and don't forget to visit the donkey.

 

Seaview Wildlife Encounter: might be best for younger children but it's a great spot for a sunny day when the tide is high and you want to kill time before heading to the beach. In my youth it was known as Flamingo Park but now it has meerkats, wallabies, otters and penguins to name but a few. You can feed the hundreds of ducks and throw a fish or two to the penguins which always leaves my boys squealing with delight.

 

Isle of Wight Zoo: I did work experience here in 1995 when it was more of a big cat and lemur sanctuary. They have expanded big time since then both in terms of their collection and the size of the enclosures. The late Jack Corney used to famously walk his tigers along Sandown beach. He was quite a character. His daughter now runs the show and the white tigers are truly magnificent. Do not bother with Amazon World. It is exceptionally depressing.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway: perfect for all Thomas The Tank enthusiasts. You can ride the train from Wooton to Smallbrook and back again. It's definitely worth getting off or starting in Havenstreet to wonder around the museum.

 

And of course, the Isle of Wight makes for a fabulous bucket and spade holiday. Next up I'll recommend the best beaches, places to eat and most importantly, what to do when it rains!

 





2 Responses

Taffeta
Taffeta

August 10, 2015

Hope you have a great time Tim! We are here now… The weather has turned slightly but it has been glorious. I’m writing tips for when it is raining! Did you see our top beaches post? Please do add yours and thanks for commenting

Tim
Tim

June 17, 2015

The Isle of Wight is a fantastic holiday destination. We’re staying at a holiday park in Shanklin in August. Look out for native red squirrels. Visit Osbourne house, Queen Victoria’s holiday residence. Shanklin Chine is the most beautiful walk down to the beach possible. Travel in style on the main railway line on 1930s vintage electric tube trains between Ryde pier head and Skanklin. An amazing island.

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