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Away Resorts now owns four different holiday parks and lodge resorts with hot tubs on the Isle of Wight. They're a popular choice, partly because they'll get you a hefty discount on the Isle of Wight ferry if you stay with them.
Away Resorts has run Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park in the East Wight for donkeys' years, but in 2022 they merged with Aria Resorts and took on three other lodge parks including:
They're all dog friendly and offer hot tubs and a range of different types of accommodation, but which is best?
The short answer (for those who don't want to read all my waffle) is that St Helens Holiday Resort gets the best reviews but it's small and simple, whilst Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is the best for a beach holiday and has the best facilities. The Lakes Rookley is cheapest in our price comparison.
Here's our guide to which is best Away Resorts for you, along with a price comparison:
Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park - Best Beach Location, Biggest, Best For Busy Families, Some Sea Views
Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is a big, busy, family-friendly holiday park on the outskirts of Bembridge in the East Wight.
Over the last few years they've spent a lot of money adding flash new accommodation with cool names like TriBeCa and Rockstar. They even featured on a Channel 5 TV programme where Shane Ritchie larked around on the Isle of Wight and said things like "Corrrrrrr, look at that, me old mucker!". If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.
Whitecliff Bay has recently stopped offering camping and touring and are focusing on their caravans, lodges and glamping. There's a much bigger choice of accommodation types at Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park than there are at the other Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight.
If you want plenty to do onsite then Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is your best bet out of the four Away Resorts holiday parks on the Isle of Wight.
It's got indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as minigolf, a playground and an arcade.
During term time they have things like Tots Breaks which are aimed at pre-schoolers, whilst during the summer holidays they put on outdoor cinema where you can sit outside and hope it doesn't rain. In peak season, there are free daily activities for kids such as a toddlers' disco as well as things you pay for, such as arts and crafts, archery, disc golf and baby ballet (more details on the entertainment programme here). There's also evening entertainment for grown ups.
The onsite restaurant is a good size and there's also a beach café during peak season.
However, the very best thing about Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is the location. When the sun shines, the beach at Whitecliff Bay is truly gorgeous and even muscles its way into my top 5 Isle of Wight beaches. It's hard to access unless you are staying at an adjacent holiday park, so it doesn't get unpleasantly busy.
One downside is that the slope down to it is ferociously steep and has claimed the good-natured attitude of many a beach-goer. My wife's language changed from Stepford-Wives-Esque to Tarantino-Esque in the time it took to get from the bottom of the slope to the top.
It's also worth looking at the map to figure out where your accommodation is. The site is split into two with a road going through the middle. That's not a big problem but if you're in the furthest away point then it's getting on for 15 minutes to walk to the beach.
Customers give Whitecliff Bay an average review score of 4/5 on TripAdvisor or 4.3/5 on Google Reviews. That puts it in the middle compared to the other Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight.
St Helens Holiday Resort - Best Accommodation, Best Reviews, Quietest
When we stayed at St Helens Holiday Resort it was called St Helens Coastal Retreat. The renaming happened in 2022 when Away Resorts took over. I think it's a much better name, as it's not right next to a beach and it doesn't have the range of facilities you might expect at a 'retreat'.
However, it's got a lot going for it once you get past the name. For starters, it is the highest rated Away Resorts site on the Isle of Wight, according to customer reviews (4.5/5 on TripAdvisor or 4.4/5 on Google Reviews).
A lot of the lodges and caravans have been added in the last few years so you've got a good chance of a very modern property which isn't looking like it's been lived in by a parade of holidaymakers with hairy dogs.
We made use of the outdoor swimming pool, which is small but good fun (and it was heated). There's also a small playground which was completed shortly after we left.
The location is at the end of a wiggly road past some houses. It's within a pretty coastal village called St Helens in the East Wight which has a large village green. Walking down to St Helens beach will take you about 15 minutes. If you're a bit more determined, you can walk to Priory Bay which is a sandy paradise.
St Helens Holiday Resort is a much smaller resort than nearby Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park, so it's a good choice if you want a quiet base for exploring the Isle of Wight.
There isn't a restaurant onsite, but Bembridge has a good choice and there are plenty of other good places to eat depending on whether you prioritise a sea view or occupying the children whilst you enjoy a glass of Merlot.
The Lakes Rookley - Best for Island Wide exploring, Cheapest In Our Price Comparison
The Lakes Rookley is something of a rarity on the Isle of Wight - a holiday resort which isn't by the beach.
There are plus sides to that, assuming that you've bought a car with you.
You can explore a lot of the Isle of Wight with a short drive. The seaside resorts of Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor all about 15 minutes away in the car, whilst Compton Bay in the West Wight and Cowes in the North Wight are both 20 minutes drive.
The absolute longest drive from The Lakes Rookley is the 35 minutes to Alum Bay and The Needles lighthouse. Most Islanders wouldn't drive this far unless it was a very special occasion (e.g. a family wedding or perhaps a funeral of a relative, at a push). If you're a hardened mainlander then you'll be used to drives of more than half an hour so it will be fine.
Anyway, back to The Lakes Rookley. In terms of scale, it is bigger than The Bay Colwell and St Helens Holiday Resort but it's smaller than Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park.
There are two swimming pools, including one indoors and one outdoors. The Lakes are also used for watersports such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Of course, you could do these on the seafront at Shanklin or St Helens but there's less risk of being dragged out to France from a lake in Rookley.
You can eat onsite at The Lakeside Bar and Eatery. Rookley itself doesn't have a huge amount to it (there's a car dealership, but I doubt that would entertain the kids). However, Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor have lots of places to eat with a sea view. If you are after chain restaurants and fast food then Newport is your best bet (Beefeater, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King).
The poshest and most expensive accommodation at The Lakes Rookley are the Lakehouses which have a pleasant view. At the other end of the accommodation range, we found that The Lakes Rookley was the cheapest of all four Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight (see further down for our price comparison).
Reviews of The Lakes Rookley are a little bit behind the other three Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight. Customers on TripAdvisor give it 3.5/5. On Google Reviews it scores higher with a score of 4/5. A lot of the older reviews will be from several years ago when it was Rookley Country Park. I would read through the more recent reviews for a more accurate summary.
The Bay Colwell - More Accessible Beach, Quiet, closest to a ferry port
Finally, The Bay Colwell which is a bit of an all rounder.
It is certainly smaller and less well equipped than Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park and The Lakes Rookley.
However, it does have an indoor swimming pool (unlike St Helens Holiday Resort, which has an outdoor pool). It's also much close to the beach than The Lakes Rookley and St Helens Holiday Resort. You can get to Colwell Bay in about five minutes on foot.
There's bike hire, soft play and a coffee shop onsite.
The accommodation is mostly rows of two bedroom chalets which have been much improved in recent years. They're described as 'Cottages' on the website and some of them have hot tubs. The more expensive accommodation are 'Lodges', some of which have an extra bedroom.
It's also the only Away Resorts site in the West Wight. Generally speaking, the West Wight is prettier and less developed than the East Wight (complaints from East Wighters to the usual address, please).
Colwell itself is developed, but the nearby West Wight coastline which runs from Freshwater Bay to Chale in the South Wight is populated by more cows than people.
If you are coming from the Westcountry, then The Bay Colwell is convenient to reach via Wightlink's Yarmouth to Lymington crossing. The ferry takes 40 minutes and then it's a seven minute drive to the resort.
Away Resorts ISle of Wight Price Comparison
We started by looking for a week for the cheapest accommodation available in August 2023. We searched for a seven night holiday. Prices don't include ferry travel, although you can get it for around half price if you book through Away Resorts. Expect to pay about £50 - £150 for the ferry depending on when you travel and how long you stay. From cheapest to most expensive:
We then looked for the same holiday but with a hot tub. So, it's a holiday in August 2023 for four people, staying for a week, excluding the ferry:
So, based on our mini price comparison, The Lakes Rookley is the cheapest of the four Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight and The Bay Colwell is the most expensive. I would caution that prices vary a lot depending on when you visit and what accommodation you choose.
Review comparison of Away Resorts ISle of Wight Holiday REsorts
As of June 2022, the review scores for the Away Resorts on the Isle of Wight look like this:
All three of the parks have seen big changes in the last few years, so the older review scores are not particularly relevant.
St Helens Holiday Resort, The Lakes Rookley and The Bay Colwell have all changed hands twice in the last few years. They were previously known as St Helens Holiday Park, Rookley Country Park and Colwell Bay Holiday Park until they were bought by Aria Resorts in 2017. Aria Resorts invested a lot of money in the sites and then the company merged with Away Resorts in 2022. At this point, St Helens Coastal Resort got its new name of St Helens Holiday Resort. (Ed: will there be a test on this at the end?).
My advice is to look at some recent reviews, rather than going on the overall score.
Distance from the ferry ports
The Isle of Wight is not vast, so travel times from the ferries are not a major factor if you are bringing a car. However, if it's a weekend visit or if you have children who don't travel well (i.e. all children) then it's something to consider.
Also, make sure that you get Away Resorts to book the ferry for you. It'll save you as much as 50% compared to going direct.
See our full guide to the Isle of Wight ferries for beginners.
Parkdean Resorts are one of the biggest holiday providers on the Isle of Wight.
They've got four holiday resorts including:
Back in April 2022, the Isle of Wight County Press reported on plans for new and upgraded properties at the Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight. They said: "Seven additional new caravans will be added at Nodes Point; 32 caravans across the four resorts will be upgraded; and, at Landguard Holiday Park, 11 lodges have been refurbished."
We've done a bit of digging around and figured out which are the newest caravans at Nodes Point, Landguard, Lower Hyde and Thorness Bay holiday parks. I personally try to get as new a caravan as possible. The upgrade cost is not always that much (compared to - for example - upgrading to a hot tub) but it can make quite a difference if the caravan is only a few months old. (We've also recently written a guide to the grading system for caravans and lodges at Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight, as it can be a little confusing).
1. New properties For Holidays
Understanding the labelling of lodges and caravans at Parkdean Resorts
If a caravan has been added within the last year then you'll see a green label when you are booking which says "New This Year".
They also have a green label which says "New On Park" which means it is less than three years old.
If you want one of the very newest caravans then look for the New This Year label.
New accommodation for 2022 at Parkdean Resorts Nodes Point Holiday Park
The accommodation at Nodes Point which is new for 2022 are the Yarmouth Caravans and the Yaverland Lodges.
The Yarmouth Caravans are one of the more expensive caravans at Nodes Point Holiday Park, but they are considerably cheaper than the lodges. They have three bedrooms, so you could squeeze eight people in if you really wanted to. That would include two people sleeping in the lounge.
They are labelled as 'extra wide' which means that they are at least 12 foot wide according to the Parkdean Resorts grading system. You get a shower room with a toilet, plus an extra toilet. That might cause a bit of a queue in the morning if eight people are waiting for a single shower, but it's quite typical of a holiday park caravan. Bear in mind that you might be using the swimming pool, which has its own showers.
If you do fill it up then it is really good value per person, per night.
Meanwhile, the new lodges at Nodes Point are the Yaverland Lodges. I am not completely sure whether they are new buildings or refurbished, but they will look shiny and new either way.
You'll pay a lot more for a lodge than you do for a caravan at Parkdean Resorts. When we checked prices for a week in September 2022, we found that the Yarmouth caravan was £809 whilst the Yaverland Lodge was more than twice the price at £1949.
However, lodges at Parkdean Resorts are considerably bigger. This one is 20ft wide, which is twice the width of the very cheapest accommodation at a Parkdean Resorts site.
For the upgrade, you get a shower/bath (which is unusual at a holiday park) in one room plus a shower room ensuite off the main bedroom. That means you'll have much shorter queues in the morning!
You also get a washing machine and dishwasher. Again, that's unusual with Parkdean Resorts accommodation on the Isle of Wight.
New and refurbished accommodation at Parkdean Resorts Landguard Holiday Park for 2022
There are two types of caravan new at Landguard for 2022 - Yew Caravan and Fir Caravan. The accommodation at Landguard is named after trees and doesn't have any relation to the names of the caravans and lodges at Nodes Point.
Yew Caravans at Landguard Holiday Park
The Yew Caravans sleep six people in two bedrooms. I would say they are ideal for four people, but you could squeeze an extra person in if you needed to.
They are 'extra wide' so it's at least 12 foot wide. They come with a single shower as well as an ensuite.
It's graded as 'premium' which means it is the highest quality offered at Parkdean Resorts. This three tier system isn't used at all the resorts, but where it is you'll see labels on the booking page to say that a caravan or lodge is either Standard (£), Superior (££) or Premium (£££).
We found a week in early September 2022 was £559, which was only £100 more expensive than the cheapest caravan available. That's a worthwhile upgrade by my reckoning!
Fir Caravans at Landguard Holiday Park
The other new accommodation at Landguard for 2022 are the Fir Caravans.
They have a similar footprint to the Yew Caravans but squeeze in an extra bedroom. That means you lose a bit of space elsewhere, but they are a good option if you have three or four children and don't want someone to end up in the lounge. The single beds you get in caravans are usually a bit smaller than standard sized single beds so not ideal for a six foot teenager.
Again, you get a shower room, as well as an extra toilet.
New caravans for 2022 at Lower Hyde Holiday Park on the Isle of Wight
There's one grade of caravan at Lower Hyde Holiday Park which is new for 2022. It is the sister park to Landguard in the seaside resort of Shanklin.
17 of the 66 Parkdean Resorts are described as 'Headliner Parks' based on their entertainment programme.
Two of the Isle of Wight resorts are 'headliner parks' for 2022 including Lower Hyde in Shanklin and Thorness Bay in the North Wight.
Longboard Caravans at Lower Hyde Holiday Park
The Longboard caravans at Lower Hyde have two bedrooms, but they don't have a sofa bed so you are limited to four people. The definite plus side is that means you have two toilets for four people. There's a single shower to share, which will be fine for four people unless anyone is particularly slow...
It is 'extra wide'. Again, that means it is at least 12 feet wide.
New caravans at Parkdean Resorts Thorness Bay Holiday Park for 2022
Three different types of caravan at Thorness Bay Holiday Park are new for 2022 - Crew, Squadron and Mast.
The main difference between them is that the Squadron caravans sleep eight people in three bedrooms, whereas the Crew and Mast caravans sleep six people in two bedrooms. If you are a family of five or six then my advice would be to go for the three bedroom model. Sleeping in the lounge is OK for a couple of nights, but it can be a bit inconvenient, particularly if the lounge-sleepers don't go to bed last!
All three have a fridge freezer. Some of the older caravans at Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight just have a fridge which is a bit limiting if you want to mostly self cater, or just keep a box of ice creams to avoid paying seafront prices!
2. New caravans for sale
Nodes Point Holiday Park is one of the Parkdean Resorts which has 'received new luxury developments for prospective holiday home owners'.
We've written a guide to owning a caravan on our other site, Holiday Park Guru.
Owning a caravan is very different to buying a standard residential home. In many ways, it is more like buying a car. You get enjoyment and use out of it for several years (and potential income), but it depreciates rather than gaining value.
You also pay pitch fees which is a bit like the service charge you pay if you own a flat.
With Parkdean Resorts, the pitch fees range from about £2600 to just over £9000 per year.
You also have other costs to consider, such as 'rates' which is a contribution towards business rates.
There's also something called a 'licence' which is the length of time that you can keep the caravan you've bought at the site. Holiday park companies don't want tatty old caravans at their lovely resorts, so they put a time limit before you need to replace the caravan, extend the licence or relocate the caravan.
There are other costs which will be more familiar - gas, water, insurance, electricity, TV and broadband.
The good news is that you can rent out the caravan when you aren't using it, which can offset a lot of the costs. In some cases, people make a profit whilst also having a holiday home they can use.
On the way home from the Isle of Wight Festival 2022, my walking companion commented that he had never been to the Glastonbury Festival and would very much like to.
It's been a few years since my last Glastonbury Festival, but pre-children I went three or four times over about six or seven years. The vagueness on my part is not down to a drug-induced haze but just a poor memory.
Anyway, I do recall a couple of key differences between Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight festival which we debated during our walk back to the cinema car park.
Glastonbury certainly has a longer list of big name bands each year and it's easy to be awed by this. It's a truly great festival and I'm not meaning to put a downer on it.
However, my experience is that the bands at Glastonbury are spread out over so many stages and such a large geographical area that you will only see a fraction of them.
The stage scheduling clashes are severe and I recall a couple of times where there wasn't much of interest to me personally for a few hours in the afternoon, and then there was an almighty collision of five or six great bands all appearing at once.
This is presumably done for practical reasons with Glastonbury being attended by about 210,000 people in 2022 once you include artists, workers, blaggers and people who actually bought a ticket. I'm no expert on crowd management but spreading people out is presumably a lot safer than having everything watching one act.
Definitive figures for the Isle of Wight Festival 2022 are hard to come by, with some reports saying 50,000 attended and others saying 'over 90,000'. I'll update this blog if I get a final answer.
My most memorable stage clash at Glastonbury was choosing between Iggy and the Stooges and The Killers. At the time, I liked both and couldn't decide where to land. Watching a bit of each isn't an easy option because the crowd size and venue is so large that walking between stages is slow. Add in a little rain and the mud soon slows you down as you squelch and slide around. The worst was when the mud turned from a chocolate mousse consistency to a sticky brownie consistency. Boots became stuck after each step and you soon decided to stay put.
Incidentally, I chose The Stooges but the rest of my companions chose The Killers. The Stooges was an excellent gig which included a mass stage invasion and someone unfurling a banner which called for the return of the Wispa.
On the Friday night of the same festival, I had to choose between Arctic Monkeys, Bjork, Hot Chip, Spiritualized, Damien Rice, Fatboy Slim and The Waterboys. I chose Bjork, but I would have happily watched any of the others.
The Isle of Wight Festival does occasionally have Main Stage/Big Top clashes but they are not so severe. Watching half and half is also quite feasible if you don't mind watching from a distance. There are several other stages but they tend to be local artists and up and coming acts which you can stumble upon rather than big names with big queues.
The differing ticket price is also worth a mention. In 2011, Glastonbury was £195 and the Isle of Wight festival was £175.
In 2022, Glastonbury had increased £85 to £280 whilst the Isle of Wight Festival had only increased by £20 up to £195. For islanders, tickets were only £145, putting them at about half the price of Glastonbury.
I'm not trying to start a rivalry between the two festivals. They are very different beasts and they both have a great history and heart. I've had a great time at both. I just felt that the Glastonbury weekend was a good moment to share our post-festival debate.
I also appreciate that this is far from a comprehensive comparison. I haven't dipped into the cost of a portion of chips, the convenience for travelling, the cleanliness of the toilets or the queue time to get in. I'll leave that for another day when I've drawn up some graphs and charts.
Parkdean Resorts is one of the most popular options for an Isle of Wight holiday park. They've got four resorts on the Island, including Landguard and Lower Hyde in Shanklin, Nodes Point in St Helens and Thorness Bay in the North Wight.
You can read our comparison of the resorts here.
When you book a Parkdean holiday on the Isle of Wight you'll be faced with a big choice of accommodation and a big range in prices.
For example, we searched for a week in August 2023 and found that a family of four could paying anything from £909 for a Port Caravan at Thorness Bay Holiday Park through to £3589 for a Sandown Lodge at Nodes Point Holiday Park.
Here's the key bit - there isn't currently a grading system used by Parkdean Resorts across all its resorts for its accommodation. You won't find caravans with the same names at different resorts. This can be a little confusing.
Instead, you need to do a bit of digging to figure out what you're getting for your money.
So what are you getting if you pay four times as much as the cheapest accommodation?
Location is a factor - Thorness Bay Holiday Park tends to be a little cheaper than Landguard, Lower Hyde and Nodes Point.
However, my advice – whether you’re staying at Landguard, Nodes Point, Thorness Bay or Lower Hyde is to look for these 10 things when you’re choosing your caravan.
What should I look for when choosing a Parkdean Resorts caravan on the Isle of Wight?
1. Age of the caravan
Parkdean Resorts provide a useful bit of information on the booking page when you search for prices. Look for a green rectangle that says either ‘new this year’ or ‘new on park’.
‘New This Year’ is the best thing you can see. As you probably guessed, it means the caravan is very new and shiny. Personally, I prioritise the age of a caravan over the facilities.
‘New On Park’ is a caravan which has been added within the last three years. That’s not quite as good, but it’s still new enough that they’ll be looking very decent.
If there isn’t a green square then the accommodation has been there for more than three years. That’s not necessarily a big problem, but a shiny new caravan is worth paying a bit more for.
When we checked, all four Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight had two or three grades of caravan listed as ‘new this year’. We also know that in 2022, seven new caravans were added at Nodes Point. There have also been 32 caravans which have been upgraded across the four sites in the last year and 11 of the lodges at Landguard have been refurbished.
2. Caravan width
The number of people that a caravan can accommodate is important, but the width is also worth checking if you don’t want to spend the week falling out with each other.
Look for the phrase ‘extra wide’ in the caravan description which means it is 12 foot wide or more (that's the same as two average male adults lying down).
If you don’t see 'extra wide', then you can assume that it’s probably a standard 10ft wide caravan which will be cheaper. If you're going to be out and about a lot then a couple of feet isn't a big deal. If you're a family of six, including four teenagers, then a bit more space will be welcome.
Lodges at Parkdean Resorts are considerably wider than caravans. Most that I’ve seen are about 20 foot wide, which is double a standard caravan width.
3. An ensuite toilet or a bath
One of the big upgrades you get with more expensive caravans at Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight is an ensuite with one of the bedrooms.
When we checked, en suite facilities were only available in about 1 in 4 of the different types of accommodation at Thorness Bay or 1 in 5 at Lower Hyde and Landguard. Nodes Point has a lot more ensuite facilities – about two thirds of the different types of accommodation have an ensuite.
Also, note that a lot of caravans just have a shower rather than a bath. If you need a bath, you'll likely need to pay for somewhere with a bit more space.
Of course, remember that a quick dip in the sea is as good as a bath whilst on holiday (Ed: are you sure about this?)
4. Sea views
A sea view is worth paying for if you can afford it, in my opinion. We’ve found that if you have children, it’s nice to be able to spend the evening outside on the veranda.
Landguard and Lower Hyde are both inland, so you won’t get a sea view there. Thorness Bay is next to the beach, but the layout means that the accommodation is set back from the beach.
The only Parkdean Resorts accommodation which is advertised as having a sea view is at Nodes Point and is called the Sandown Lodge. My guess is that these are the ones which have the best sea view, as there are quite a few caravans at Nodes Point with at least a 'sea glimpse'.
5. Hot tubs
Hot tubs are available at all of the Parkdean Resorts holiday parks on the Isle of Wight. However, if you do have one it bumps the price up considerably as they need a lot of maintenance (and they’re very popular). They are only available with lodges, rather than caravans.
The cheapest Parkdean Resorts accommodation on the Isle of Wight with a hot tub in August 2023 was around £2000 when we checked, compared to about £900 for the cheapest caravan. Both of those were at Thorness Bay Holiday Park.
You’ll find hot tubs in one or two of the different types of lodge at Thorness Bay, Lower Hyde, Landguard and Nodes Point.
6. Washing machines and dishwashers
Washing machines and dishwashers don’t come as standard in Parkdean Resorts caravans on the Isle of Wight. It tends to be the more expensive lodges which have them. Of course, a lot of people eat out and there’s a launderette onsite you can use if you need to clean your pants.
7. Double glazing and central heating
Central heating and double glazing are pretty much standard in Parkdean Resorts holiday parks on the Isle of Wight. I only managed to find one grade of caravan which didn’t have double glazing (it was at Lower Hyde).
Of course, that makes a big difference if it’s cold but it also makes some difference in regulating the inside temperature if it’s very hot.
The more expensive accommodation at Parkdean Resorts has a veranda, which is worth paying for in summer but less important if it’s cold.
At Nodes Point, verandas are quite common which makes the most of its location overlooking the sea. Verandas are less common at Thorness Bay, Lower Hyde and Landguard. I would start with Nodes Point if sitting outside is important to you.
Towels aren’t provided as standard at Parkdean Resorts on the Isle of Wight. I wouldn’t upgrade just to get towels provided, but it’s something that you get with most of the lodges rather than with the cheaper caravans.
10. Number of bedrooms
The number of bedrooms certainly affects the price, but it's not as significant a difference as you might think. We regularly see deals where an eight person caravan is only a few pounds more expensive than a similar six person caravan.
As you may know, a lot of two bedroom caravans are listed as being for six people. That includes two people sleeping in the lounge which is not ideal in my experience. It’s fine for a short break but after a few nights it’s a bit annoying!
Whatever you choose, you’ll get bedding provided and use of the facilities but it's worth understanding that there are notable differences between the accommodation.
A Tick Box Exercise
One top tip is to use the filters on the Parkdean Resorts booking page to narrow down your options rather than trying to read every description. The information with each caravan doesn't always say what is included, but the filters give much more information.
Here's an example of the filtering options from Thorness Bay Holiday Park.
My favourite trick is to choose the factors which are most important to me and then put the accommodation in ascending price order.
If you're really keen, you might like to do what we did and put our 10 factors into a table to make the comparison easier.
We've picked out the cheapest caravan at Parkdean Resorts Isle of Wight for a week in August 2023, as well a mid priced option and the most expensive lodge we could find.
Which upgrades at Parkdean Resorts Isle of Wight are worth the money?
If you can only afford a modest upgrade then my advice would be to seek out the caravans which are listed as 'new on park' or 'new this year'.
The difference in price between older and newer caravans can be quite minimal.
For example, we searched for a week in August 2023 at Thorness Bay and found that it was only £40 to upgrade from the cheapest caravan (£909) to one which was 'new on park' (i.e. less than three years old). To upgrade from the cheapest caravan to one which was new this year was an extra £250.
An upgrade to a slightly more expensive caravan tends to get you a bit more space and an en-suite which are both big plus points if you are filling up a caravan. They probably aren't worth paying for if you have a small family.
Upgrading to a lodge with a hot tub requires a much bigger increase in your budget. The cheapest we found for our comparison week in August 2023 was £2089 for a Harbour Lodge at Thorness Bay - more than twice the price of the cheapest caravan at the same resort.
It's also worth thinking about the location. I would say that a veranda is more worthwhile at Nodes Point - which overlooks the beach - than it is at Landguard or Lower Hyde which are a mile inland.
Also worth considering is the time of year you are visiting. An off peak upgrade is much cheaper than a school holiday upgrade. You may decide to go for the cheapest accommodation in summer, because you'll be out all day and can spend the money you've saved on eating out. If you visit in mid October then you may spend more time indoors and getting a hot tub or a wider property won't be such a big increase in price.
What does 'Standard' 'Superior' and 'Premium' mean?
You may have noticed that Landguard Holiday Park grades its accommodation into Standard, Superior and Premium. In summary, that means:
This three tier system is useful, but there isn’t a published tick list of facilities which determines the grading so it's hard to know if an upgrade is worth it for you. I prefer to use the filters on the booking page, as shown above.
For example, one of the most important things for us on holiday is a dishwasher as we usually self cater rather than eating out. It's not immediately clear which of the three grades would include a dishwasher but you can figure that out with the filters.
Thorness Bay, Nodes Point and Lower Hyde don’t yet use this three-tier system so it's hard to compare like for like between resorts.
BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions came from Freshwater Memorial Hall recently. It was an enjoyable programme with an audience booing and cheering like they were at Shanklin Theatre watching Jack and the Beanstalk in mid-December.
The most interesting moment for me was the ferries discussion, in which someone repeated the old line about the Solent being the most expensive stretch of water in the world per mile (or at least one of the most expensive).
I’ve often wondered where this line came from originally. I suspect it may be similar to the claim about the entire population of the world fitting on the Isle of Wight. We reckon that one ceased to be true in about 1981. We looked into this one in this guide.
The most relevant research I’ve found on ferry prices between different locations was done in 2016 by NatureNet, but this looked at per-km foot passenger fares. It put the Isle of Wight ferries in the mid-table.
However, a lot has changed since 2016 and I wanted to know how car ferry costs compare, since most families still bring a car with them to the Island.
Unfortunately, making a comparison isn’t as simple as you might expect.
A Fair Ferry Comparison?
Many years ago, the Isle of Wight ferries offered more car journeys at fixed prices. I don’t recall the exact details but I seem to think that at the turn of the millennium there were two or three car ferry prices depending on when you travelled.
Nowadays, the Isle of Wight ferries operate much like airlines for most car ferry journeys (with a few exceptions, such as day return special deals and Multilink). Prices go up and down with demand so you can get a much lower price at 3am on a Thursday in February than you would get on 1pm on a Saturday in August.
There are other complications, as users of the same ferry will probably be paying different amounts.
For example, if you were to book a lunchtime return from a Saturday to Saturday with Wightlink in August 2022 then you might more than £250 for a car and passengers.
However, if a local resident uses the Wightlink Multilink deal then they might pay somewhere around £60.
If a holidaymaker stayed at a local hotel or holiday park then they might pay about £120-£200 depending on the ‘trade rate’ available. We’ve seen deals with Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park which are about half the standard fare.
Other canny travellers will have used £80 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers and others will have gained a discount through English Heritage or one of the many other discount providers.
See our ferry discounts guide for the full list of offers, which also includes Red Funnel’s latest deals and an ongoing 10% discount.
Our Comparison Criteria
For our comparison, we looked at two return different journeys - one off peak and one on peak. We figured that would give a fairer comparison of costs as some ferry companies use 'flexi' pricing (e.g. Wightlink and Red Funnel) and others use a simple fixed price model (e.g. Calmac in Scotland, at least as far as I can tell)
For the peak ferry we looked at the cost of:
This produced a higher cost per mile/km than you'd get off peak, but it's when the most number of people want to travel so it is worth examining. We applied the same to other crossings so it should be comparable.
We didn’t include:
For the off peak journey we looked at
Here's our results, presented as a series of numbers and as a chart.
First, here's the peak time prices in order of price per kilometre. The Solent crossings are in bold.
And here's the same data on a bar chart. If you can't read them then you can make them a little bigger on a desktop by clicking on the image.
Next, here's the peak time figures with the Norfolk chain ferry excluded as it skews the figures a fair amount.
Next, here's the off-peak data table.
And here's the off peak data presented as a bar chart. Again, click to make it a little bigger on a desktop.
And finally, here's the graph without the Norfolk chain ferry to make it easier to see smaller differences.
A Few Conclusions and Caveats
A Few Tips For Lowering The Price Per KM With Red Funnel And Wightlink
As I've said many times on this website, you really shouldn't be paying the full price for a ferry crossing to the Isle of Wight. Our discount ferries guide has lots of suggestions for money saving:
Big thanks to Matthew Chatfield, who made this research much quicker by publishing data on different crossings for foot passengers.
There was some debate amongst our party as to which year Muse had previously played at the Isle of Wight Festival. Of course we could have settled the debate with three seconds on a smartphone, but where's the fun in that?
I was convinced that they hadn't played the same year as the Rolling Stones. I put the Rolling Stones as 2008 and Muse as 2007. It turns out I was wrong and they were on the same bill together in 2007.
We concluded it was a) an excellent double bill and b) long enough ago to make us feel old.
Muse are one of those bands which I was a big fan of based on their first two or three albums and then lost track over the years. Foo Fighters are in the same category.
As it happens, it was their later stuff which really stood out in a stonking set including Will Of The People and Won't Stand Down. The joyous racket was helped along with bursts of fire, streamers which flew in the wrong direction, fireworks and a huge stage prop.
Most prominent was a creepy mask which filled the stage and must have been 15 metres tall. Once the tour is over, I would like to see it donated to Blackgang Chine to live amongst the dinosaurs in Restricted Area 5.
The other big event on Sunday in my book was the return/homecoming of Wet Leg. It wasn't their first Isle of Wight Festival but it was their first since their debut album reached number one in the charts.
The local heroes' Big Top set included Angelica, Wet Dream, Ur Mum and Chaise Longue.
Other highlights for me on Sunday were the Charlatans, half of Rudimental and a portion of skin on fries with a well above-average barbecue sauce.
Anyway, it seems a good time to thank everyone who made the Isle of Wight Festival 2022 happen.
Thanks to the team who work all year round to make the Isle of Wight a more interesting place, thanks to the stewards who told us we could jump the queue when they could see our kids were struggling in the heat and thanks to Mrs Guru for babysitting so I could watch Muse.
I'm sure there are others, but I'll save a few for next year.
Our Isle of Wight Festival on Saturday was something of a split-shift, with a few hours with the children in the afternoon and then a return in the evening.
The afternoon session was the second festival for the younger child, but the first she remembered. The Kids' Zone was about right for her and we spent a happy hour playing with Lego whilst someone enthusiastic larked around on the kids' stage.
The main frustration was the search for a mermaid amongst the available Lego, which seemed to be absolutely essential for my five year old's building project. Eventually she settled on a witches hat instead of long, flowing hair. I saved the day by suggesting that we removed the legs altogether and gave the illusion that the lower half of the mermaid was underwater. I felt very pleased with myself.
We caught a few minutes of The Fratellis and The Proclaimers before further pottering around the site. Needless to say, we took several photos in front of the giant Isle of Wight Festival sign, as it traditional.
There are plenty of parents who do a full day at the Isle of Wight Festival with children but we prefer to pace them to avoid the risk of tantrums in front of thousands of people. And the kids might lose it too - arf arf!
The evening session had a somewhat different feel to it, with the children at home (not alone, I should point out) and the evening drawing in.
After Friday's heat, it was strong wings which provided the main challenge on Saturday night. Blossoms had to cut their set short because of a public safety issue, which threw the schedule out.
Kasabian were next up and drew a big crowd including Peter Crouch who joyfully danced on stage during the finale.
With the rain coming and going, we only caught part of their set and spent a good deal of time in the Platform One tent for a bit of shelter and local music. We watched The Optimists, which make an excellent racket. I'm afraid I have never worked for the NME so I can't tell you of which two bands they are the illegitimate love child. However, they are on Spotify which might give you a better idea.
After some gin in a paper coffee cup we watch Joel Corry at the Big Top. This was one of those festival moments where you feel like you are well out of touch, with thousands of people going wild for an act you've never heard of. The Big Top was overflowing, everyone was jumping.
My friend's friend seemed stunned that I wasn't aware of his work.
"What? You've not heard of Joel Corry? He's the British David Guetta! He's the resident DJ at Ibiza Rocks!"
Two minutes later a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and asked politely if I knew who was on the stage.
"It's Joel Corry!" I shouted back. "He's the British David Guetta! He's the resident DJ at Ibiza Rocks!" I felt very pleased with myself for the second time in a day, which hasn't happened for a while.
Finally - for us - it was time for the act with the longest name of the weekend: Pete Tong: The Heritage Orchestra Ibiza Classics with Jules Buckley.
The lasers lit up the sky, the rain stopped and I enjoyed the sounds of Ibiza whilst dipping my churros into chocolate.
Organising a festival must come with some intense stresses. You can spend a whole year getting every single detail sorted...and then the weather forecast comes out.
Thankfully, the Isle of Wight Festival 2022 has started with some pretty strong sunshine showing once again that the Island is a good choice for outdoor events. As I keep saying, the Isle of Wight gets 500 hours a year more sunshine than London so your odds are pretty good.
The risk this year is that we’ll see a lot of red faces. My Isle of Wight Festival app was pinging on Thursday morning to tell me to bring water. (Incidentally, I always think it’s remarkable that anyone who needs this advice has managed to make it to an age where they are old enough to go to a festival).
We don’t camp at the Isle of Wight Festival, so I’ve never actually made it to the Thursday night of music. Adding an extra day started back in 2008 when the festival was growing and it works well as a way of spreading out when people arrive.
Over the years, they’ve had some decent acts headlining on Thursday including The Human League (2009), Boy George (2011) ,Primal Scream (2012), Razorlight (2017) and Wet Wet Wet/Heather Small (2019).
One of my biggest festival regrets is missing out in 2018 when The Wombats headlined Thursday night. Their album from around that time – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life - is one of my favourites from the last 10 years.
Anyway, back to 2022 and The Happy Mondays headlined on Thursday night. They had been due to play the Thursday night in 2020 but Covid got in the way. Heather Small also returned, three years after her last Isle of Wight Festival appearance.
There was also a nice bit of scheduling from the Isle of Wight Festival organisers who decided to book the Rick Parfitt Jnr Band for Thursday night. Rick Parfitt Senior headlined the Thursday night at the 2016 Isle of Wight Festival with Status Quo, a few months before he died.
As is traditional, Friday at the Isle of Wight Festival is more like two-thirds of a day rather than a full day of music. I like to think that this was a request from the headteachers of the Isle of Wight who were seeing half empty classrooms on a Friday in June.
Plan A for Friday night was that Lionel Richie would headline. He was originally booked for 2020 and then 2021 and then 2022 before announcing he was going to ‘hold off' his European tour due to the risk of Covid. In the unlikely event that Lionel Richie is browsing niche blogs and has found this one, I would like to wish him well and hope that one day he will be able to make it to the Isle of Wight. I can recommend some lovely hotels, or campsites if he prefers something more rustic.
I would like to have been at the planning meeting when Lionel Richie phoned John Giddings to explain that he couldn’t make it (yes, I know it was more likely to be his manager, but that’s a less interesting image). John Giddings must have considered replacements become concluding that the only thing that that might come close to Dancing On The Ceiling was nine bright red RAF planes flying in formation and spraying smoke out their rear ends.
Prior to the headline slot, Madness and Nile Rodgers and Chic both took to the main stage. Both are excellent choices for a summertime festival with a sufficient number of hits that even my mother would be able to dance awkwardly and say “oooh, I know this one”. It was the second time Nile Rodgers and Chic had played (the other time was 2018, when Kasabian, Depeche Mode, Liam Gallagher and The Killers headlined). For Madness, it was their third appearance at Seaclose Park, after 2012 and 2019.
Without Lionel Richie it fell to Lewis Capaldi to step up to headline as the weather finally began to cool, with a set which included ‘Someone You Loved’ and ‘Before You Go’.
The National Trust has just launched a new pass which is aimed at visitors to the Isle of Wight who aren't already members. You can either buy it from the Isle of Wight's National Trust attractions or you can bundle it in with a ferry booking.
We've done some number crunching to figure out if it's worth buying.
If you're short on time...my conclusion is that it's worth buying if you plan to visit The Needles Old Battery and Mottistone Manor Gardens.
Anyway, for the full answer, read on.
What does the National Trust Isle of Wight Explorer cost?
An individual National Trust Isle of Wight Explorer Pass costs £16 for an adult and lasts for seven days. An adult family ticket is £24 if there's one parent with children or £40 for two parents with children.
It gives you seven days of free entry to the National Trust's attractions on the Isle of Wight and use of their car parks.
That compares to £76.80 for annual National Trust annual membership for an adult, £83.40 for a family with one adult or £133.80 for a family with two adults (2022 prices).
What attractions are covered by the pass?
There are quite a few National Trust attractions and car parks on the Isle of Wight. However, it's worth realising that two of the biggest historic attractions - Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle - are owned by English Heritage so aren't included in the deal.
Here's the National Trust attractions on the Isle of Wight, including the non-Gift Aid price:
There are also several car parks which are owned by the National Trust.
Some of them are free but I seem to recall there being a charge at Brook Chine, Compton Bay/Hanover Point and the St Helen's Duver. I think it was £3 when I last visited, but please update me in the comments if you know otherwise.
Is it worth buying a National Trust Isle of wIght Explorer Pass?
If you are a National Trust enthusiast who is going to spend their entire week's holiday touring National Trust properties then you will save quite a bit.
For example, a family of four who visits the National Trust's four main Isle of Wight attractions and then visits two car parks will save £31. To put it another way, they'll spend £40 instead of £71 (I've not included Bembridge Fort as it's only visited by a small number of people because you have to pre-book and then meet a volunteer for a tour). An individual would pay £16 instead of £32 if they visited four attractions and two car parks.
However, I can't help feel that if you're that keen on National Trust style properties then you are probably members already and won't need the pass.
More realistic is that you might be planning on visiting The Needles whilst on an Isle of Wight holiday because a) you went there as a schoolchild or b) you've seen a grinning TV presenter pointing at it on BBC2.
There are two separate attractions at The Needles/Alum Bay. The National Trust half of the attraction is a military battery which has terrific views, a tea rooms and a cool tunnel which leads to a lookout. Meanwhile, The Needles Pleasure Park has the chairlift, glass blowing, minigolf, boat ride and small funfair rides. Most people love it, my father always went out of his way to avoid it.
If you're planning on visiting The Needles then I would make time to see the National Trust part of the attraction. You need to be able to walk about half a mile or catch a bus as there's no car park.
I would then take a look at the other three National Trust attractions and see if any of them appeal. If you think they look like your sort of thing then I would get the pass and then make an effort to visit one extra one to get better value out of it.
Personally, I have a lot of affection for Mottistone Manor Gardens and happily return there each time my mother suggests it (which is quite often). The cost of The Needles and Mottistone Manor Gardens combined is £15 for an adult so you might as well pay the extra £1 for a 7 day pass. They're both in the West Wight so you could do two in one day.
I enjoyed Bembridge Windmill but it's the sort of thing you visit for an hour rather than returning again and again. You might like to combine it with other stuff in the Bembridge area. Newtown Old Hall is interesting if you like history, but you don't need to pay to see the actual nature reserve.
So here we are again, with the Isle of Wight Festival about to begin and the sun shining. I predict a lot of people will get sunburnt on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before a bit of light rain cools them off on Sunday.
I am not one of those people who takes this moment for granted.
As I keep saying, there have been so many festivals which have come and gone since the Isle of Wight Festival revival in 2002 - not least several which were on the Island (Bestival, Fairweather Festival, VDub etc).
The Isle of Wight Festival has survived headliners cancelling (Morrissey, most notably), the torrential rain of 2012, the Covid cancellation of 2020 and the Covid delays of 2021 (see our festival history guide). And over the last 20 years we've watched David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Sir Paul McCartney, REM, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, The Strokes, Neil Young, Duran Duran, The Police, Muse, Amy Winehouse and The Who. And as previously discussed, the ticket price remains very similar to what it was 10 years ago.
2022 should be another excellent year. I am a little less obsessed about line-ups than I was a few years ago. I no longer have a list of stages with circles round the artists that I want to see ("come on guys, we've only got four minutes to get to the Big Top!"). With children in tow, I am now happy to wander the site, catch a few acts, ride the big wheel, try on a funny hat in the Kids Zone, sit down in the sunshine and so on.
Here are five things that the Guru Family are looking forward to at Isle of Wight Festival 2022:
1. A Celebration of Wet Leg's Remarkable Year
Let me be honest. There are very few bands which I like which have come from the Isle of Wight.
Seeing Wet Leg shoot to the top of the album chart has been a real treat.
I managed to miss them last year, when they were much less well known.
In 2022, they are due at the Big Top on Sunday at 4.25pm. I'm expecting a large crowd and a singalong for Wet Dream and Chaise Longue.
2. The Return of Muse
Muse have played the Isle of Wight Festival before. Back in 2007, they headlined Saturday night on the day before that the Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse played together. That was some year.
However, 15 years is a pretty long gap between performances so it feels like a big deal. Sunday night is traditionally a bit less wild than Saturday night at the Isle of Wight Festival with an earlier finishing time to make Monday morning a little easier. I have a feeling it will be a little more raucous this year.
Set lists on Muse's current tour have included some real some bangers such as Supermassive Black Hole, Plug In Baby, Uprising and Time Is Running Out.
Muse are playing at 9.20pm on the main stage.
3. The Red Arrows
Friday night is an eclectic mix of main stage excellence at the Isle of Wight Festival with Lewis Capaldi, Madness, Niles Rodgers and Chic, Sigrid and The Vaccines.
But how do you go about replacing Lionel Richie, who was forced to pull out of the festival a few months ago?
The answer - of course - is a formation team of nine stunt pilots drawing hearts in the sky.
4. A ride on the ferris wheel
I've not been down to Seaclose Park yet, so I can't say for sure if the big wheel is there again.
If it is, I'll be joining the queue. Some of our finest festival moments have been watching a main stage act from a great height. Early evening is the ideal team to climb onboard in my opinion, as long as the sun is shining.
Legend has it that Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers decided to form Wet Leg whilst at the summit of the wheel. I shall look out for the capsule with the blue plaque.
5. Mark Owen
Mrs Guru and I don't quite share the same taste in music. She's a big fan of musicals and 90s/00s pop so in previous years has taken great enjoyment from watching Will Young, Mel C and The Corrs at the Isle of Wight Festival.
This year, I can confidently predict that Mark Owen and Craig David will be top of her watch-list.
Craig David's set doesn't start until 11.45pm on Friday night, so my hunch is that the winner will be Mark Owen at 3.40pm on Saturday in the Big Top.
If I get a chance, I must ask him about the Take That video which was filmed on Sandown beach in the 1990s.
I think you'll agree, it hasn't dated one bit...
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