Our dogs have always been part of the family. At home, they’re always there. If we go for a day out, we take them with us if we can. So when we go on holiday, we actively look for places to go that the dogs can come along to as well.
For us, a holiday is all about being out and about in the fresh air so camping is the natural choice. Of course, this means that there no problem with the dogs coming as well. But it also means that we can’t leave the dogs somewhere if we’re going out for the day so we have to find things to do that will suit us all.
We headed for the Isle of Wight on our holiday this year after a personal recommendation from someone who said it was great for young children. We travelled to the Island with Red Funnel Ferries. The crossing only takes an hour and dogs are allowed to either stay in the car or go onto the dog deck outside.
We stayed at Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park which is part of the Away Resorts chain. Whilst there are quite a few beaches on the Isle of Wight that don’t allow dogs, the beach on the holiday park was dog friendly, as were several others between there and Bembridge. Pluto quite enjoys the beach but Bubbles had never been before. It’s safe to say she rather liked it.
The holiday park itself was ok. It’s not somewhere I’d recommend to people without children but the kids did enjoy it. There are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, both of which are quite nice. However the little changing room for the outdoor pool was truly awful.
I had to get the girls changed there because we had a bit of a walk from the tent and Lia is still in nappies. I ended up changing them on the poolside but I didn’t have my costume on so I had to use the grotty changing room and take the girls in with me while I did so. And I won’t even mention the toilet. Shudder.
That said, the pool itself was lovely and warm but the toddler pool was quite chilly owing to being so shallow. We stayed on the wide step area to swim around and Libby did her first few strokes of swimming without a float there which was a real breakthrough.
Indoors there was a little jacuzzi and a nice warm toddler pool. There was also a soft play area and a park there, as well as evening entertainment for both children and adults. The kids loved it.
Both bars had outdoor areas where we could take the dogs which was really useful and the food wasn’t bad for pub grub although I found some of the staff a bit unfriendly.
From the holiday park, there were some gorgeous runs along the coastal path that Bubbles and I really enjoyed. Bubbles also started swimming on holiday. If only children took to it as naturally as puppies!
Whilst we all had some fabulous days out on the beach, it’s great to have the option to have days out on holiday that don’t revolve around the beach and the Isle of Wight has plenty of those. There is a great list on the Visit Isle of Wight website and we picked a couple to try out.
Robin Hill Park is a country park with LOADS of things for children to do. There are adventure parks, a treetop walk, a tower to climb, a few little rides such as a toboggan run and a little train and a tractor to ride round the park on.
Dogs are welcomed on leads and it’s a lovely place to go for a walk with them. There are both cafés and outdoor areas to have a picnic, having the dogs with us was never a problem.
The sister site to Robin Hill is Blackgang Chine. This is another dog friendly park in an absolutely stunning location. Blackgang Chine is based around pirates and fantasy. It has everything from adventure playgrounds on pirate ships to fully moving (very realistic) dinosaurs, through to a fairy village and castle, a haunted house and a Wild West area.
Again, there are a few little rides and lots of exciting areas for children to play as well as cafés, picnic benches and areas for the grown ups to relax and take in the scenery. Both girls absolutely loved it. Being able to take the dogs there on leads was brilliant. Bubbles was not a big fan of the dinosaurs – she was petrified of them but we persevered and took her round. I don’t think she’ll be rushing back there but we will!
In addition to these days out, we did quite a lot of walking and had a nice meal at the Lifeboat View Café in Bembridge. This has a lovely big outdoor area where dogs were welcome and the food was fresh and delicious.
We also went to Culver Downs which is a National Trust owned area located a short walk from where we were staying. The area itself is really interesting, having been used in wartime from Napoleonic times all the way through to the second world war.
It was a great place to walk the dogs, although some of the paths along the coastal path were a little treacherous if one of them decided to pull on the lead. The only criticism I have was that there were no dog bins around at all but just a rather snotty sign outside a café telling people to take their dog muck home with them.
I suspect they wouldn’t have had such a problem with it if they’d put a bin there instead of a sarcastic sign.
Because this sign gave the café the impression of being rather unfriendly, we went to the Culver Haven Inn instead. This has beautiful views from the beer garden and dogs were welcome.
All in all, we would highly recommend the Isle of Wight for a holiday with both dogs and children. And so would they, I think.