About 18 months ago we stayed at Woodside Coastal Retreat over New Year’s Eve. Stories about a virus in China were just emerging but life in the UK was normal.
We had a lovely week pottering around the Island on grey days with the occasional whiff of sunshine.
The Isle of Wight certainly looks more beautiful in summer so we decided to return to Woodside Coastal Retreat for a summer holiday.
Picking the right park for you and the best lodge
There are two adjacent holiday parks alongside Woodside Bay in Wootton. They’re both owned by Darwin Escapes and the booking is handled by Hoseasons.
Both sites offer holiday lodges which are much more spacious than standard caravans. They both have hot tubs in some lodges. The ones with hot tubs are described as ‘Premier’ in their names, such as Nettlestone Premier or Carisbrooke Premier.
The key differences are that:
You can walk to the beach from both very easily and you can use the restaurant regardless of which one you stay in.
For us, a sea view is the key so we went for Woodside Coastal Retreat again.
On this occasion, we booked more than a year in advance so we had the chance to pick the lodge we wanted.
There are five or six lodges on the front row at Woodside Coastal Retreat. My advice is to get one of these if they’re available. They are the ones with the word ‘view’ in the title.
We travelled with another family so we booked numbers 28 and 29 at Woodside Coastal Retreat.
On our first visit we were on the second row back but on this visit we had a 180 degree view of the Solent. The beach was literally a stone’s throw from the balcony and we were treated to a constant stream of activity on the water.
Over the week we must have seen at least 10 cruise ships sail past, as well as 20+ container ships and dozens of ferries. We saw jet skis racing along, paddleboarders wobbling and windsurfers trying to stay afloat. When the sailors and swimmers had gone home, flocks of birds whooshed across the top of the water.
Whether it was pouring with rain or perfectly still there was something interesting to watch. I felt like I could have stayed on the balcony for a decade and not got bored of the view.
On one morning I (involuntarily) woke up at 5am and sat outside on the balcony for three hours tapping away on my laptop. The Solent was flat as a pancake and I could hear every word of a conversation two people were having on a small boat in the middle of the water.
We made use of the beach at Woodside Bay, which we hadn’t really done during our January visit.
Woodside Bay certainly isn’t my favourite Isle of Wight beach. Swimming is quite a rocky experience and less appealing than the occasionally-blue waters of Totland, Freshwater or Colwell. There isn’t much sand but at low tide you can do a little bit of rockpooling
However, we visited during a heatwave, so it was a real bonus to be able to walk 50m and then sit under a tree rather than getting back in the car. There’s a woodland which links the two adjacent parks which was another welcome bit of shade.
I also enjoyed strolling up and down the beach with the children and collecting buckets of shells for absolutely no reason at all.
If you decide to go for Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat instead then you’ll find that you have a bigger range of accommodation to choose from. It’s a much large site with about 3 or 4 times as many lodges.
The lodges towards the bottom of the hilly site are much closer to the beach. I’d say you’ll be able to get to the beach in under a minute from some lodges.
The lodges at the top of the site have a bit of a sea view, but it’s only really the top of the Solent over some trees.
We'll certainly be back.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog