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Isle of Wight - Holiday Review - Kids Stay Too

Isle of Wight – Holiday Review

Sandown Beach - Isle of Wight

Posted by on 14th September 2016

We spent our family summer break in the last week of August 2016 on the beautiful Isle of Wight. It has been over 8 years since we were last there when we had just the 2 older children. At that time our daughter was only 4 years old and son just under a year old, so they wouldn’t have remembered their last visit. Now with 3 kids it was time we went back to one of our favourite UK destinations and to introduce them to an island so close to us, yet feeling like we were in continental Europe especially as we had almost 7 days of uninterrupted sun and temperatures in the early 20°c.

Getting there

Jazzy, Blue and Blankie on the ferry

Jazzy, Blue and Blankie on the ferry

There are many ways to get to the Isle of Wight by either car ferry or as a foot passenger. I looked at all the options available to take our car. Wightlink operate from Portsmouth-Fishbourne and from Lymington-Yarmouth. If you collect Tesco clubcard vouchers, they may be used towards Wightlink ferries. As we don’t collect those we opted for the Red Funnel ferry from Southampton-East Cowes. For us, this was a slightly cheaper option than Wightlink.

We were very impressed with the service on board. Plenty of seating, a restaurant with a good selection of snacks, meals and hot & cold drinks. The staff were friendly, and the 1 hour journey was so smooth. The bonus for us and for the kids too was free wi-fi!


Colwell Bay - Isle of Wight

Colwell Bay Beach Huts – Isle of Wight

We decided to stay on the west side of the island at Colwell Bay, Freshwater as we wanted something that was a little bit more relaxed than the busy resorts of Ryde, Sandown and Shanklin yet easy to get around the island. The capital,  Newport is only around 25 minutes drive and from there, the coastal resorts along the North, East and South around 15-20 minutes, so nowhere is too far. Freshwater itself is a small town with some local shops and a few restaurants. There is a new large Co-op supermarket with everything you need, including  local island produce and of course, boxed fudge & shortbread souvenirs. Yarmouth is less than a 10 minute drive. As well as being one of the island’s arrival ports, it is a picturesque harbour town with restaurants, cafes and pubs. The island’s famous landmark ‘The Needles’ may actually be seen in the distance if you walk along the coastal path from Colwell Bay towards Totland Bay. For a closer look, you will need to drive up to either the Needles attractions at Alum Bay, or visit the Old and New Battery, a National Trust attraction.


Colwell Bay Holiday Cottages

Colwell Bay Holiday Cottages

Our cottage was nicely decorated with a comfy lounge. In the lounge had sofa-bed, 2 armchairs, TV with Freeview channels and a DVD player. There was also a dining table with 6 chairs and a cabinet with some board games and dominoes. On top of the cabinet was an iPod dock. There is free wi-fi, however, it was intermittent but we found the signal was strongest in the lounge.

There are 2 bedrooms, one with a double bed, and one with 2 singles. A good sized bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen including an oven, hob, fridge, separate freezer and microwave. Having a washer/dryer and dishwasher was very useful and much used! We were left a welcome pack of some essentials, ie. milk, tea, coffee, biscuits and washing up liquid.

We had an allocated parking space out at the front, although some cottages had parking spaces out to the side on the end of their row of cottages.  There is a small patio area out at the front with a BBQ set, and a small table and 2 chairs. Out at the back there was a small garden space (although I believe the garden sizes vary for some cottages). Some of the cottages have a hot-tub, so I’m guessing that at some point there may have been one at ours.

The cottage was absolutely fine for our holiday. Its just what we expected and would not hesitate to go back in future.

More information, click  Colwell Bay Holiday Cottages link


The Isle of Wight has so much to offer for young and old. One week was just not enough time for us to see everything. The weather was perfect so we also enjoyed spending time relaxing on the gorgeous family friendly, sandy beach at Colwell Bay. If planning to visit this beach, take note of the tide times as they vary day-by-day.

Here are some of the attractions we visited during our stay on the island:

Havenstreet Station - Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Havenstreet Station – Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Isle of Wight Steam Railway – Cost: £32.00 (You can use Tesco clubcard vouchers, but check their website for conditions). We visited on one of the special event days that were taking place during the August Bank Holiday weekend, ‘The Island Steam Show’. In addition to the usual attractions, there were fairground rides and shows. We first visited the ‘Train Story’ discovery centre. It gave us an interesting history of the island’s railways and was quite interactive for the kids. Our youngest loved dressing up as a train driver. Friendly staff were on hand to answer questions and provide us with interesting facts. We went on a 1 hour train ride from Havenstreet station with our own private railway carriage. There’s a nice playground on site and we also had some lunch at the cafe, which serves hot and cold snacks. It was absolutely fine.

Arreton Barns –  This is the island’s largest arts and crafts centre. We stopped here on our way to Sandown to see what it was all about. The kids don’t really like shopping at the best of times but they were pleased to see that there is a traditional sweet shop called ‘Sweet Memories‘. We couldn’t resist treating ourselves to some home-made fudge. As well as a few shops, there is a bar/restaurant and there is also the ‘Shipwreck Centre’.

View of Sandown beach and pier - Isle of Wight

View of Sandown beach and pier

Sandown Pier Definitely a place to visit on a rainy day, and that’s what we did. Sandown itself has an amazing sandy beach, so worth visiting at any time of the year, but we thought the pier would be best visited on our only rainy of our holiday so as we didn’t miss out on the much needed sun! There used to be a Theatre on the pier many years ago as I remember watching a show there with my mother when I was 12 years old. Since the late 1990s the Theatre closed down and has been converted into a family entertainment centre.  Two of the best value activities that we tried and I recommend are the indoor crazy golf – £3.00 per person and the bowling – £2.00 per person (maximum 4 people). We got our youngest to share his turn bowling with the adults so that he didn’t get left out.  Good fun and cheaper than the bowling in Ryde.

Godshill Model Village - Isle of Wight

Godshill Model Village

Godshill Model Village – Cost: £16.00 for a family ticket of 2 adults and 3 children with a free 7 day return. Delightful little attraction to visit if you have an hour or so free. The kids were given a worksheet and they enjoyed trying to look for the answers to the questions, otherwise they probably would have lost some interest as there wasn’t too much interactive things for them. There were a few model trains for example, but not to the scale of some other model villages we’ve visited in the past.

Amazon WorldCost: £10.50 per adult, £8.50 per child, or £41.50 for a family of 5 (You can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers) with a free 7 day return. We chose to visit one animal attraction on our holiday and opted for this one as we’ve visited typical zoos before. We loved the layout. There are areas where you feel like you’re in a tropical rainforest, plus an area for nocturnal animals and some in outdoor enclosures.   There’s a cafe area and a really nice playground for the kids which has a section for younger children too. It is ideal to visit on a rainy day too as a lot of the animal attractions are based indoors. There seems to be plans for them to build an indoor kids play area, so that will be interesting to see in future visits!

Eating Out

There are a number of well known American fast food chains on the island, and although we dined at some of them, we also tried out the following, all of which we found family friendly:

Yarmouth Harbour - Isle of Wight

Yarmouth Pier

Gossips Cafe, Yarmouth – We actually visited this same cafe 8 years ago so we just had to go back. Still the same as I remember it. The cafe is located right next to Yarmouth pier, so when you’re sitting inside the cafe, you feel like you’re on board a boat. They do lovely lunch time snacks, and a few kids meals options too.

Horse and Groom, Ningwood – The kids absolutely loved this place and so did we. Although the service was a little slow, the food tasted very good, and all our fussy kids catered for. The bonus about this pub is outside there is a bouncy castle, crazy golf, and playground area. So after our meal we took our drinks outside to the seating area, and relaxed while the kids played safely.

Wootton - Isle of Wight


Sloop Inn ( was Crown Carvery), Wootton – Beautiful location but the carvery is pretty much like one of the other ‘Crown Carveries’ that we’ve tried. A hearty, good value for money meal. They cater for the kids by giving them a smaller carvery option, plus look out for ‘kids eat free’ deals on certain days.

Happy Haddock, Shanklin – Lovely freshly cooked cod and chips. They do kids portions too as well as other kids meals. Friendly service and free wi-fi too!

Hong Kong Express – This is a chain of 3 restaurants found on the island at Ryde, Newport and the one we tried at Freshwater. We made the mistake of leaving our visit to this restaurant till our last day as the food was so delicious. We will definitely have to go back there in future.

For more information and for help to plan your visit, click on the Isle of Wight link and for more accommodation ideas for a family of 5 + have a look at our Isle of Wight page.

Information and prices quoted correct at the time of publication – August 2016
  1. Jeoff Reis
    19th September 2019


    I went to the Island sometime ago – did you get your ferry from Portsmouth?

    Lovely place – esp during the summer.

    • KidsStayToo
      19th September 2019

      Hi Jeoff,

      On that occasion we travelled by Red Funnel from Southampton to East Cowes, but of course there are the options from Portsmouth and Lymington. It certainly is a beautiful island and plenty for kids to do.

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