A lot of different things have happened on Planet Earth since it was ruled by the dinosaurs. However, the one thing that has remained a constant over the last 120 million years is that the Isle of Wight has always been a popular holiday destination (even before it existed). Ignoring the fact that the planet got really quiet for a couple of years after the dinosaurs got wiped out, it would appear that they really loved this part of England (even before it existed).
The fossils of over 20 different species of dinosaur across all three of the major periods: Triassic, Cretaceous, and Jurassic, have been found on the Isle of Wight. You can see dinosaur footprints in various spots at low tide on beaches at Freshwater Bay, Yaverland, and Hanover Point. Species include various other of Sauropods (lizard-hips), Ornithischian (bird-footed), Theropoda (beast-footed), and Thyreophora (shield bearers). For further reading on this ‘roarsome’ subject, check the local bookshops for Naish and Martill’s tome, ‘Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight’.
The Isle of Wight is now known as Dinosaur Isle because of the sheer number of fossils found there. In addition, there are lots of great places to visit to enhance your dinosaur knowledge or just to have some giant reptile-themed fun. Kids love dinosaurs and a holiday cottage break on the Isle of Wight is a recipe for excitement and fun. We have compiled a guide of the best dinosaur-themed attractions and days out across the island for you. Read on to see how you make your escape to the Isle of Wight more ‘dinosaurified’.
Become a veritable dinosaur expert with a visit to the UK’s first dinosaur museum, located in Sandown on the Isle of Wight’s east coast. First opened in 2001 AD (which doesn’t stand for after dinosaurs), the space has over 1,000 of the best fossils from the island’s archive. You can learn about the geology of the island and where the fossils were found via interactive installations and skeletal reconstructions. You can also see a working laboratory for examining specimens or enjoy a talk with a dinosaur expert. This place is a great, serious yet fun introduction to dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight. Something for everybody, academics and cool kids.
If you love movies like Jurassic Park, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Tree of Life, Blackgang Chine is the place to be. You can get amongst the scary true to life-scale dinosaurs who are poised in the primordial palm fronds and foliage. Listen for the roars and growls all around and look out for the largest animatronic T-Rex in the country and a bunch of Triceratops on the trail. Entry to this mysterious dinosaur zone is included in the ticket price to Blackgang Chine, a theme park on the south coast of the island, which has fun facilities including Cowboy Town, Fairyland, Pirate Cove and more. Young children that love dinosaurs and japes will be in hog heaven at Blackgang Chine! Book ahead during busy periods.
One of the leading attractions at The Needles is the Lost World 4D. Young dinosaur fans will be thrown into the middle of this animated feature with its juddering seats, air blasts and jets of water. This isn’t 3D this is 4D! Again the ‘D’ doesn’t stand for dinosaur and there are way more than four of them in this film, which tells the story of a dopey stowaway called Bob who ends up on a secret beast-infested island. Also keep an eye out for Jurassic Golf (mini golf with teeth!). The Needles Landmark Attraction is another popular Isle of Wight theme park with something for all the family to enjoy. With views across The Needles and cable cars down to Alum Bay, there’s more than just children’s rides at this fun landmark. Book ahead to avoid being left out.
Tee off under the added pressure of being gobbled up by a drooling dinosaur at this mad mini-golf course in Sandham Gardens, next to the beach in Sandown. 18 holes and nearly as many dinosaurs are waiting for you to brave the course. The obstacles to overcome include mini volcanoes, bridges and waterfalls. What a lovely way to spend your holiday time - dinosaurs plus golf! It’s a win-win (if you don’t get eaten). Sandham Gardens is also home to a small karting track which is adored by young families too.
Book a guided walk with a dinosaur fossil expert. Head to the Dinosaur Expeditions, to meet some local fossil enthusiasts for a fun and educational adventure. At the base, you can view a ton of locally found dinosaur fossils, cool paleoart, get amongst some children’s activities and then visit the fossil gift shop. If you fancy an excursion to the main areas of the island where you can find fossilised dinosaur bones, the largest is the 6-mile stretch between Atherfield and Compton on the south coast, and Yaverland in the east. Private group tours can be booked with a guide – they are a superb specialised insight into the geology of the island with the possibility of discovering some of your own dinosaur fossils.
Sadly, (or maybe luckily?) none of our holiday cottages date as far back as the Jurassic period, but we do have some self-catering accommodation curated to please. All across the Isle of Wight, we have some delightful holiday properties waiting to be discovered. Visit our collection today to feel inspired.