The excitement of half term is beginning to build, and with that comes what can seem like an overwhelming task: figuring out how to keep the kids entertained for a whole week. The Isle of Wight and Purbeck are two fantastic UK locations for a family getaway, and we’ve put together a little guide to help you find the best place to be this half term.
Adventures on the Isle of Wight
The seaside experience
The beaches on the Isle of Wight are not to be missed with a variety of sandy stretches to keep the family entertained. If you want a true seaside experience, you’ll want to stay in one of our properties that are within 5 miles of a beach. A selection of these are within just a few steps of the beach and provide stunning views over the inviting sea.
Shanklin beach is probably one of the most well-known and loved, with a wide stretch to be enjoyed as well as a mixture of activities such as crazy golf, bowling, go-karting and penny arcades that can provide a bit of holiday action!
For somewhere a little lesser known, Compton Bay is one of the local treasures. With fantastic surfing opportunities and high water quality, this is definitely a favourite for the older, more adventurous kids! If you’re keen for a spot of fossil hunting, there are plenty here and you can take a tour of some spectacular dinosaur footprints at Hanover Point.
Bembridge Beach is another great option for those in search of sea life, with its wonderful rock pooling opportunities and sheltered waters for a spot of swimming in the summer months. The 200-metre pier creates a picture-perfect atmosphere and its close proximity to the local village makes it a popular choice for visitors.
Find a place to stay by the sea on the Isle of Wight.
The funfair and adventure experience
The adventures available at Alum Bay and The Needles will tempt a wide range of children. Why not take a ride on the chairlift to scope out the area and enjoy the best viewpoint around ... although those who aren’t a fan of heights might want to give this one a miss! Once at the top of the lift, you can jump off and head to the pleasure boats for a trip to the local lighthouse; if you’re lucky you might be able to spot some sea life from the boat.
Once you’ve taken in all the sights and gotten over the excitement of the heights and waters, head to the on-site funfair where you can walk on water in an inflatable ball, enjoy a traditional ride on the carousel, or test your hand at mini-golf and hook-a-duck at the games kiosk. Alternatively, get stuck into the sand and spend the day at Alum Bay, where the multi-coloured sand cliffs will be a talking point for all.
Find a cottage near Alum Bay and The Needles.
The coast and countryside experience
If you’re searching for a real adventure with plenty of glorious walking and cycling trails, then you’ll love the Red Squirrel Trail. Starting from East Cowes and journeying through mainly traffic-free paths you’ll make your way to Merstone and Sandown, before circling back to where you began. The 32-mile stretch can be broken down into smaller sections if you’re not ready to tackle the full track, meaning you can base yourself anywhere along the route – Sandown is a perfect place to stay as you’ll get the best of the coast with Shanklin Bay, as well as the in-land country paths.
As the name suggests, there is a chance of spotting red squirrels, particularly at the famous Garlic Farm and the Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve.
There are plenty of other cycle trails and walking paths available throughout the Isle of Wight, ranging in length and difficulty to meet the needs of every family member.
Find a base for your adventure in East Cowes or Shanklin.
Need more inspiration for your next trip to the Isle of Wight? Here’s how we recommend you spend 24 hours on the island.
Adventures in Purbeck
The historic experience
The Jurassic Coast is a haven for history buffs, with a fascinating story around each and every corner. Whether you want to spend your days hunting down fossils at Lulworth Cove, Lyme Regis and Charmouth Beach, or head to one of the many family-friendly attractions that are both educational and exciting there's something for everyone. The Dinosaur Museum is home to an incredible collection of fossils and skeletons, paired with interactive activities to capture your children's interest. Moors Valley Country Park is another great family day out, encompassing over 1,000 acres of adventures, from walking trails and Segway tours to high-wire adventures.
Tyneham Village is one of the most unique places to visit in the area. Having been abandoned in 1943 during WWII, the once idyllic countryside village has been frozen in time for over 60 years and is now a magical portal into the past. Take a 10-minute walk from the village and you’ll find a peaceful bay: a perfect setting for families.
Find a place to stay on the Jurassic Coast this half term.
The iconic experience
Durdle Door is possibly one of the most iconic attractions in the UK, and although the beach can get rather busy during the summer months, it’s a must-visit location to explore the naturally carved caves at the chalk cliff’s base and to spend the day building sandcastles as the waves crash to the shore. Although the water quality here is excellent, it isn’t the most child-friendly place to swim as there aren’t any lifeguards and the beach shelves can drop quite sharply. For older children, a paddleboarding tour of the Jurassic Coast is a fantastic way to see the sights, as is a day of coasteering.
A 2-mile walk along a stretch of the South West Coast Path from Lulworth Cove will bring you to the fascinating sight of the fossilised forest, another iconic attraction in Purbeck which was formed around 185 million years ago. This walk is a little more challenging, with areas where you’ll need to scramble down the rocks but is quite the adventure for those ready to take on the challenge.
Find a cottage near Durdle Door.
The waterside experience
If your family are sea-lovers, then a trip to Brownsea Island is a must. This wildlife haven can be reached by ferry and looking back to the land provides an incredible view of Dorset. With woodland walks, spots to stop by the lagoon and an open-air theatre, this natural playground is great for all ages - just be mindful that your four-legged friend won't be able to accompany you on this trip. Be sure to pack a picnic to enjoy a full day here, before heading back to your home-from-home for the evening.
For rock pooling and snorkelling experiences, we highly recommend Kimmeridge Bay as it is set within a marine Special Area of Conservation, where colourful marine life glides through the waters. This may not be your typical golden sandcastle beach, but it does offer something a little different.
Canoes, kayaks and boat tours are plentiful in Swanage, where you can hire equipment for the family and benefit from expert instructors, or head off solo if you’re experienced enough. Seeing the views from the sea is an incredible experience.
Find a cottage by the sea in Purbeck.
Ready to book your half term adventure? Browse our collection of cottages in the Isle of Wight and cottages in Purbeck to take the first step towards your next getaway!