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.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog