Things to do in the Isle of Wight when you’re five

A few weeks back, Flea and I were invited by Island Breaks to the Isle of Wight for a complimentary trip to explore the island’s attractions by Island Breaks. We were offered the chance to stay in a B&B, a hotel, or a yurt.

Well, it had to be done, didn’t it?

A yurt, for the uninitiated, is a Mongolian style of wooden dwelling – it’s a large, round wooden frame with canvas over it. Unlike a tent, most yurts come with wood-burning stoves and proper beds, making them a great alternative to camping for soft, urban babies like me. And it’s where we stayed this weekend.

We stayed with the Really Green Holiday Company, which owns half a dozen yurts situated in a quiet orchard in Freshwater, on the Western side of the Island. It’s just a few minutes’ drive from Yarmouth, where the WightLink ferries from the mainland arrive. Obviously it wasn’t a few minutes’ drive for us, since we arrived without a map and with no sense of direction, so this is the route we took to our accommodation:

Impressive, I know. Still, we saw lots of lovely scenery.

Anyway, the yurt itself was very warm with the fire lit, and we had all the furniture and utensils we needed, along with a barbecue and seating area outside. As an eco resort, there’s no mains electricity or hot water, but solar heating means there’s a (communal) shower, and the lovely site manager LJ gets up at 6am each day to boil water for everyone to have a cup of coffee when they wake up.

In the evenings, the solar lanterns in the trees glow and you can sit in the orchard with candles and an open fire, enjoying a drink. It’s really lovely and more than compensates for that whole eco-toilet experience.

During our stay on the Isle of Wight, we visited a number of attractions and our top tips for visitors with kids are as follows:

Hill Farm Stables: Flea took a riding lesson here with half a dozen other kids and was soon cantering like a pro (almost) and doing round the world tricks to great audience applause. The teachers were incredibly patient and the surrounding scenery makes this a brilliant spot for a ride.

IOW Zoo: One of the highlights of our trip was the zoo, which is small enough to manage easily in a morning, and has a fantastic collection of lemurs, with great staff presentations that manage to be fun and informative. We particularly enjoyed watching the feeding of the lions, which involved a keeper dangling a chunk of horse meat over the cages on a giant fishing rod. The lion ate the fishing rod, too, which impressed Flea no end.

Dino Isle: If you have a dino fan and visit the zoo, then do head next door to Dino Isle, a fabulous dinosaur museum with the usual moving dino models and a great collection of fossils and interactive displays. One word of warning: leave your car at the zoo – parking at each site costs around £4 and there’s no cashpoint unless you want to drive into the nearest town.

Seaview Wildlife Encounter: This was our favourite of the attractions on the Isle of Wight, because there’s much more for kids to do – Flea got to feed penguins and wallabies, handle snakes, cockroaches and lizards, and there’s a great pets area where kids can handle small animals. There’s a lovely lake area where you can feed all sorts of water fowl, and to top it off, the whole park is set in lovely green surroundings, making it a great place to spend a day.

If the weather is good, though, I expect you’ll be like us, and wanting to spend most of your time on the beach. We enjoyed Sandown beach with its old-fashioned pier and amusements, and Ryde Beach has 8 miles of sand with a great sea-side funfair and playground, as well as pitch and putt and a range of other activities to keep kids amused. But we’d say don’t miss Compton Bay which has sand and rock pools and – best of all – dinosaur footprints in the rocks when the tide’s out.

If you’re interested in visiting the Isle of Wight with kids or want to know what our Yurt looked like in more detail, I’ve posted more pics from our trip on my blog Facebook page.

Disclosure: All travel, accomodation and activity costs were met by our hosts and facilitated by Island Breaks

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