The Isle of Man, a little island located between Great Britain and Ireland, surrounded by the Irish Sea. This self-governing Crown Dependency is distinctly different to its neighbours and, as the world’s first complete UNESCO biosphere, it is well worth a visit this summer. Having lived there for over two decades, I have some hints and tips for places to see and things to do which will take your mini-break to the next level.
Great Laxey Wheel and Mine Trail
If you haven’t visited the world’s largest working water wheel, you haven’t been to the Isle of Man. The Laxey Wheel, otherwise known as the Lady Isabella, is a cornerstone of Manx history and an iconic landmark.
Tickets: Adults £7.00, Children go free
1. Peel Castle
The most impressive remnant of Viking rule on the island. Wander around this open-air ruin and enjoy the panoramic views of the sea and the city. But, watch out for the Moddey Dhoo, an infamous black dog that roams the castle at night.
Tickets: Adults £6.00, Children £3.00 (concessions available)
2. Port Erin beach
Objectively speaking, this is the best beach on island. While you’ve got several stunners to choose from, Port Erin is where you can combine soft sand with calm seas and incredible food.
Budget: Ice cream £3.50, Pizza £8.00, Cocktail £7.50, Paddle boarding session £25.00 (prices may vary)
3. Snaefell Mountain
From our one and only mountain, you can see the seven kingdoms: the island itself, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Heaven and Neptune. To reach such hights (620m) you can walk or take the Manx Electric Railway, which dates back to 1895, from Douglas and enjoy the views in style.
Tickets: Prices may vary, please see website
4. Calf of Man
So, you’ve chosen to visit an island, now how about an island off of that island? The Calf of Man is a miniature paradise, from which you can spot everything from puffins to porpoises. While you’re down South, why not take a trip round the coast and visit the Drinking Dragon, a rock formation which bears unbelievable similarities to its namesake.
Tickets for boat trip: Adults £20, Children £5 – £10 (prices may vary)
1. Fenella Beach
Tucked away in the shadow of Peel Castle, Fenella is easy to miss but hard to forget. The sand on this baby beach has been swapped out for seashells, and it is absolutely beautiful.
2. Balladoole (Historic Monument Site)
This is the burial site of a Viking boat that dates back to the 10th century AD. From this hill, you can see how the sunlight bounces off the sea and onto the neighbouring quarry, framing the towns of the South. Perfect for a good sunset.
3. Glen Maye
Descend into a stunning glen and behold the waterfalls you find there. Accessible via the Raad ny Foillan, the coastal path which runs the circumference of the island, this area offers you the chance to immerse yourself in green Manx spaces.
4. Cornaa Bay
Just a short walk from the Bay is a secret spot, perfect for a chilled afternoon. Rope swing your way into a waterfall filled pool shrouded in a canopy of emerald trees.
5. The Curraghs
Wallabies have roamed freely for more than 50 years and the island now boasts the largest population in the Northern Hemisphere. If you fancy meeting one of these marsupials, you’re going to have to head to the Curraghs and keep your eyes peeled.
Food & Drink
1. The Alpine
For the best salads and biggest sandwiches head to The Alpine in Douglas, but get there early, because this is one of the locals’ lunchtime favourites. Try the homemade tart.
Address: 5 Regent Street, Douglas, Isle of Man (IM1 2EB)
2. Davison’s Ice Cream Parlour
Because of the island’s seaside holiday history, ice cream stores are pretty easy to come by. But Davison’s has a special place in the heart of most islanders. Try the Coconut and Lime flavour.
Address: 1 Castle Court/Shore Rd, Peel, Isle of Man (IM5 1AQ)
3. Secret Pizza Company
Tucked away behind Castletown Square, this restaurant-come-festival-tent is the ideal location to watch local bands and indulge in good food. Try the Holy Shiitake pizza.
Address: Barracks Square, Castletown, Isle of Man (IM9 1NR)
4. The Boatyard
If you’re looking for a relaxing dinner out where you can sample the best local produce and sit by the harbour, this is the place for you. Try the Manx Queenie pancake.
Address: Mariners Wharf Peel, E Quay, Peel, Isle of Man (IM5 1AR)
5. Kiki’s Tiki Lounge
Start your night with a selection of funky cocktails in a confusingly immersive Tiki bar. Try the COS TONIGHT BBY I WANNA GET TIKI WIT’ U cocktail.
Address: 42 Loch Promenade, Douglas, Isle of Man (IM1 2LY)
Travel when you’re there
Thanks to the TT, the worlds most dangerous motorbike race, the island is known around the world for its motoring culture. Locals can learn to drive from the age of 16 and there is no official national speed limit. This means that a car (or motorbike) is your best mode of transport, although you can reduce your environmental impact by utilising the electric charging points popping up across the island. If this isn’t an option, then the bus service is available and serves the majority of destinations you may wish to visit. But, the pièce de résistance of transport on the island has to be the Steam Railway, on which Thomas the Tank Engine was based, which operates in the summers.
For the Isle of Man, the pandemic has been an incredibly isolating experience. The borders shut in March 2020 and have had strict restrictions since. Now that the population is almost entirely vaccinated this is starting to change. The Isle of Man is a rural getaway with a twist and a phenomenally safe destination for those with wanderlust this summer.
All prices correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change.
Words and photographs by Catherine Woolley
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