The Isle of Wight is well stocked for stag do activities. There isn't the range of big nightclubs you will get in a city but there are loads of outdoorsy type activities for those who fancy doing something other than shouting wahey and vomiting on a stag do.
I recently organised an Isle of Wight stag do for a number of mainlanders, so of course I felt a weight of responsibility to represent the Island at its best.
Thankfully the weather did its part and we were treated to a fair amount of late summer sunshine alongside some suitably laddish bants, as the kids say nowadays, apparently.
We started things off at the Folly Inn in Whippingham which I've always thought to be a good pub for group gatherings as the food is reasonably good, the view is great and it is big enough that you don't feel they are trying to push you out the door as soon as you put down your fork.
After dressing our groom as a Whoopee Cushion we
headed to Tackt Isle in Bembridge, where I learned a valuable best man lesson - doing anything with a group takes forever, so don't try and cram in too much on a stag do.
I would happily say "right lads, we're five minutes late already, we'd better go" and everyone would sit down in the sunshine like some kind of peaceful protest. I honestly think it would have been quicker to transport a group of toddlers.
We eventually got on the water for some kayak games with Tackt Isle, which obviously involved non stop banterish hilarity such as splashing, falling in, shouting "wahey" or "oi oi!" and giving the groom a comedy tiny paddle.
That was followed by an hour on segways and airwheels (2 wheeled and 1 wheel transporter things) during which time we tried our best to avoid driving into the sea.
The whole kayak and segway combination lasted about three hours and cost £20 each, which I thought was great value.
After helping ourselves to the free tea and strumming the guitar at Tackt Isle - and apologising again for being late - we set for Compton Bay. By Isle of Wight standards it was an epic drive, the equivalent of a mainlander driving from Berwick upon Tweed to Falmouth. To pass the time I handed out the Isle Spy car journey game which is really intended for distracting naughty children but seemed remarkably apt for the stag do.
At Compton Bay the sun was shining and we had the beach to ourselves for playing football in mankinis (thank goodness), eating burnt sausages and general larking.
At night we decided to camp nearby which was literally the equivalent of sleeping in a fridge (it was 8 degrees and I had a pack of bacon near my head).
After scraping off the morning icicles from our noses we ate the bacon and climbed up to The Pepperpot to admire the view. By this time I had realised that moving our group was akin to turning a cruise ship around so I gave up on our Sandown golfing plan.
Thankfully the laddish lads were impressed with the Pepperpot and the cliffs overhanging Blackgang Chine which provide an opportunity for reminiscing about school trips in the 1990s.
I would love to say that the stag do ended with us getting utterly wasted and shaving the stag's eye brows but it actually ended up with lasagne and crumble in the sunshine in my mum's garden. WAHEY! LADS!
Update 2021: this blog post from 2015 is getting a little old and crusty now, but you can find a more recent price comparison of foot passenger ferry fares in our guide to ferry travel for beginners.
If you ever find a dinner party on the Isle of Wight needs livening up, just make some vague comment about ferry fares and you will soon find everyone arguing about tunnels, bridges, the price of onboard coffee and so on.
In my view, a lot of people are paying more than they need to, and with a little bit of effort they could travel much cheaper.
Before you begin your email of complaint, take a look at this price comparison which I pulled together in 2015 with the following criteria:
â€‹My six conclusions from all that data:
So whatâ€™s the secret to getting the cheapest Isle of Wight foot passenger fares?
Do a bit of research, have a guess of how many times youâ€™ll travel over a year and then pay in advance. And if you're only travelling once and want to save some money, get the car ferry as a foot passenger and pretend it is a cruise...
Shhh...don't tell anyone.
Have you read our recent blog about getting the best car ferry price, or our guide to discount Isle of Wight ferry travel?
My jaw dropped a little last night with the news that Seaview Wildlife Encounter had closed.
The news wasn't that it was due to close in a few months' time after several farewell events, but that it had closed. Where was the buildup to allow me to get used to the idea that one of the Isle of Wight's most popular attractions was to close? I nearly choked on my Sunday night Earl Grey.
The news, appeared on their Facebook page:
Dear FB friends.... It is with great sadness and regret that the family have decided after 44 years of being open to the public that an extremely difficult decision has been made to close the park. This is due to many internal and external factors - the seasonal nature of the business combined with intense legislation and regulation that we believe will only increase in the future. We hope that you will understand that it is time now for the family to bow out gently and to thank all of our wonderful visitors for their support over the years.
Since then, the owners gave a bit more detail about some of the challenges of running an attraction which have persuaded them to call it day.
The Facebook comment kicked off an outpouring of grief and kind comments which you'd normally associate with the passing of a monarch. Well over a thousand comments appeared within hours. I half expected to see news coverage of flowers being left outside the park with lingering closeups of moving messages for Dippy the Penguin.
"By far the best attraction on the Island" said one mourner. "Nothing compares with it" said another, who was presumably listening to Sinead O'Connor at the time.
"It was the most amazing place for our wedding last year" said another, conjuring up images of a bride walking down the aisle in front of a parade of geese.
Such strong feelings are not all that surprising. Seaview Wildlife Encounter has consistently ranked towards the top of Trip Advisor's list of Isle of Wight attractions, currently at number "3 out of 158 attractions" (behind Osborne House and Monkey Haven). The park's most famous penguin has more than 5000 likes - well over 10 times as many as this site has...
We certainly enjoyed our visit there, and I'm not exactly the world's biggest animal fan. It was not hugely expensive (about £10), it was clean and the staff seemed to know what they were talking about. I was a particular fan of the penguin feeding.
The Isle of Wight can certainly cope with one attraction closing (or two if you also include Coleman's Farm which closed recently). There are three other good sized animal attractions in Isle of Wight Zoo, Amazon World and Monkey Haven, plus there are about ten other places where you can see animals. And there have been some attractions opening in recent years (such as Tapnell Farm) or improving (such as Robin Hill or Blackgang Chine)
But it's still a sad day when something that is so popular closes down. Don't worry Dippy, we won't forget you.
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