Nowhere captures the imagination of young children quite like the Isle of Wight. A short ferry crossing away lies a world full of adventure, affording youngsters the chance to step into their very own Neverland. Better still, parents can join them!
Ours is an island brimming with attractions for the entire family. From animals to water sports, we boast excursions aplenty. Consider it a small playground where the fun never stops.
With so much on offer mum and dad can be forgiven for sweating over an itinerary. Indeed, deciding what to and what not to include can be a challenge, particularly for shorter stays.
To help simplify matters, The Royal have put together a list of recommended activities certain to delight our younger visitors!
No holiday would be complete without a visit to the beach and on the Isle of Wight we are spoilt for choice.
Whether it’s the perfect swimming conditions of the Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor seas or the sprawling, sun-kissed sands of Appley a fun, and relatively inexpensive day awaits.
All of our seafronts are complimented by promenades boasting amusements, cafes and small shops chocked-full of souvenirs and postcards, allowing our smaller tourists to write home to classmates or grandparents whilst ‘overseas’.
Keep an eye out for neighbouring bowling alleys and mini golf courses sure to inject some (friendly) competition into proceedings.
Above all, encourage kids to make the most of the sun, lark about in the water and erect sandcastles until buckets and spades themselves are immersed. Just be sure to remember the lotion!
2. Adventure Parks
For children raised on Aladdin, Pinocchio and the like nothing quite compares to the wonderment of Disney World. That said, the Isle of Wight is doing its utmost to rival Paris and Florida. Between them, Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill Adventure Park guarantee to wow all children.
Blackgang, one of the island’s premier attractions, proclaims to be a land of imagination- and with good reason.
Set upon cliff tops with breath-taking sea views, features include castles, pirate ships, rollercoasters, water slides, musical animals and practically everything in between. Rumour has it there is even a ‘restricted’ Area 5 compound where dinosaurs roam…
Equally impressive is the Robin Hill equivalent in Newport. As with Blackgang this site is run superbly by Vectis Ventures, whose 88 acres of countryside are filled with a Cows Express, Colossus Swinging Galleon, Hill Billy & Snake Slide and 4D motion cinema.
In the summer months you will find falconry shows and similar live entertainment sure to leave crowds in raptures.
Best of all, while the kids wear themselves out, adults can lounge on lush greenery, drink in hand.
3. Isle of Wight Zoo
A long time highlight of any Isle of Wight holiday, a trip to our famous zoo is surely a must for all visitors. Where once stood a mighty Victorian fort designed to guard the Sandown coast, now live exotic wildlife far more inviting.
Look out for amphibians, birds, fish, lions, monkeys and more as you meander through this, an east coast institution.
Want a closer look? Special Wildlife Experience packages are available for those hoping to venture behind the scenes and learn how zookeepers tend to rescued tigers, still their biggest attraction.
4. Adventure Golf
Going head to head with the kids brings with it untold risks. Succumb to defeat and you invite reminders and ridicule for the remainder of your stay; triumph and you could very well upset your rivals – an altogether scarier prospect!
We will leave the risk-reward conundrum to you but do urge all families to channel their inner Rory McIlroy and attempt at least one of our miniature golf courses.
A selection of 9, 12 and 18 hole layouts are available across the island. In Shanklin alone, you will find Rylstone Gardens, Pirates Cove and Jurassic Bay and Jungle Adventure Golf, which forms part of the Summer Arcade.
Further afield, Ryde possess Puckpool Park and Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf. Not to be overlooked, Sandown and Alum Bay add the crazy to crazy golf at their respective courses.
5. Open Top Bus Rides
What better way to take in the sights than an open top tour bus, criss-crossing the island and stopping at key landmarks? The Island Breezer series allows you to do just that. Each of their trips promise to enchant and educate little ones in one fell swoop.
The Needles Breezer takes in Yarmouth, Freshwater, Alum Bay and Colwell. The Downs equivalent makes pit-stops at Ryde, Sandown, Brading and Arreton. While the Shanklin ride slaloms through, you guessed it… Shanklin!
A longer, near three-hour journey titled the Island Coaster begins at Ryde and ends at Needles, leaving no stone unturned.
6. Horse Riding
What do kings and queens of nearly all animated movies have in common? They ride horses of course! The Isle of Wight gives children the opportunity to do likewise, albeit without royal regalia.
Among our many friendly stables are the Island Riding Centre, Freshwater, Sally’s Riding School Bembridge and Hill Farm Stables.
Experienced trainers will slowly walk horses (and their new friends) through stables. In summer months they have even been known to make a beeline to the beach.
An unforgettable experience and a great photo opportunity, this is one day trip well worth planning.
7. Water Sports
Few thrills are as exhilarating as those afforded by water sports, something conditions on the Isle of Wight are made for. Children over the age of eight can get a first taste for the likes of kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing at several locations, St. Helens and Media Valley included.
The opportunity to don a wetsuit and ride the waves is unrivalled and one that will make them the envy of their classmates back home.
8. Model Village
Kids are accustomed to being dwarfed by their surroundings, looking up in awe at buildings, cars and the like. This is why the chance to flip that on its head – if only for a few hours – is so appealing.
The Godshill Model Village is much cherished, having been opened in 1952. A family run business it presents life as it was in the 1930s, only in miniature form.
Tread carefully between cottages, churches, pubs, trees and even hot air balloons, remembering to ask the little ones how it feels to be giants for a day!
9. Monkey Haven
Monkey Haven was the brainchild of founder Don Walser who sought to provide a sanctuary for rescued monkeys and birds of prey in 1999. 20 years on, he can be proud of his work – efforts that have led to this tourist attraction achieving acknowledgement from Visit England no less, not to mention entry into the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame.
It would be remiss then not to plan a visit with the kids come your stay on the Isle of Wight.
Look out for lesser spotted monkeys such as the Gibbon and Capuchin. Discover similarly fascinating creatures such as boa constrictors and Bengal Eagle owls. There is even the chance for children to see a real-life meerkat – allowing them to brag to friends familiar with the Compare the Meerkat ads!
10. Bike Rides
For any parent confident they can keep up with their children, an Isle of Wight bike ride is surely a must. There is no shortage of routes to take, all inclusive of some quite stunning scenery.
The Red Squirrel Trail is particularly popular, being fairly flat for the most part. At 32 miles long we suggest tackling only some of it, though you could take in Cowes, Newport, Shanklin and Sandown depending on where you start.
Further treks include Yarmouth to Freshwater, Brading to St Helens, Newport to Wootton Bridge or Ryde to St Helens. A big lunch will be in order by way of reward but what better way for children to channel their boundless energy?
The above are just some of the ideas likely to interest kids and parents alike when destined for the Isle of Wight. An Island teeming with attractions, finding something to occupy children is the easy part. Cramming everything in is far harder!