Island life

There are so many beautiful isles off the UK coast – find the one that’s right for you

The Isle of Wight

by Zoe Bishop |

The Isle of Wight - Family fun

Famous for its stunning sandy beaches, the Isle of Wight is ideal for a family break. Just five miles off the coast of Hampshire, it’s easy to get to and popular attractions include an amusement park at the site of The Needles, a distinctive row of chalk cliffs; Monkey Haven, a rescue centre near Newport; and two big festivals – Cowes Week and the Isle of Wight Music Festival. With so many award-winning beaches on offer, surfers flock to blustery Brook Chine, while families love the miles of golden coastline on Sandown. Alum Bay is a local favourite, too, with its multi-coloured sand cliffs and the most incredible turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkelling. Take a boat trip around the island and visit Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s cherished home. Go to the coastal village of Shanklin, a characterful old town straight out of a fairy-tale book, or head to St Catherine’s Oratory, England’s only surviving medieval lighthouse with amazing coastal views.

• Stay at Harvest Cottage, Shanklin, from £424 for a week for four people, additional £20 for a dog. Book online at Holidaycottages.co.uk

Anglesey, Wales - Stunning walks

Anglesey, Wales
Anglesey, Wales

Separated from the mainland by the Menai Suspension Bridge, this beautiful island is the largest off the coast of Wales and is known for its unspoiled coastlines. The Anglesey Coastal Path traces many of the best beaches and is popular with hikers and tourists as one of the best ways to explore the island. Beach stops include family-friendly Benllech, with its golden sand and clear, blue waters, Porth Wen, where you can snorkel through a white rock arch, and dog-friendly Aberffraw. Look out for some of the island’s hot spots, including Holyhead Mountain, with its scenic views, Aberlleiniog Castle or The South Stack Lighthouse. Anglesey is also famous for having the longest place name in Europe– Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch has its own Victorian railway station that’s been restored to its original state and is a great day out for all the family.

• Stay at Ty Cerrig Cottage, Llanddaniel, Anglesey from £660 for seven nights, sleeping six people. Book online at Sykescottages.co.uk

Bryher, Scilly Isles - Delicious seafood

Bryher, Scilly Isles
Bryher, Scilly Isles

At less than two miles long, this may be one of the smallest of the five inhabited Scilly Isles, but with its sub-tropical climate it’s as close as you’ll get to holidaying on a Caribbean island within the UK. Rushy Bay beach is a firm favourite for families with its fine, pure white sand, or try Green Bay where you can kayak, canoe or sail. Bryher is a paradise for walkers with its rugged cliffs and caves, which can be explored in a day. Hell Bay on the Atlantic coast is wild but beautiful and the place to sample local seafood – try The lively Crab Shack. And don’t leave the island without picking up some homemade treats from Veronica’s Fudge Farm.

• Stay at the Hell Bay Hotel in Bryher, from £190 a night for two, including breakfast. Book online at Hellbay.co.uk

Burgh Island, Devon - Steeped in history

Burgh Island, Devon
Burgh Island, Devon

This small but perfect island off the Devon coast is only accessible by a strip of sand at low tide. At high tide the only way off is via a hydraulic Sea Tractor – the only one in the world. The island boasts its own 1327 original smugglers’ den, The Pilchard Inn, steeped in a fascinating history of dastardly pirates, and serving traditional fare such as local ales and crab baguettes. Famed for its links to Agatha Christie, the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel was often visited by the famous novelist and was where she penned her book Evil Under the Sun. Fans can even stay in her favourite Beach House retreat, which has stunning views of the bay and an outdoor hot tub.

• Stay at The Burgh Island Hotel and enjoy one of its black tie murder mystery events, from £515 a night for a double room, including dinner and breakfast. Book online at Burghisland.com

The Isle of Bute - Peaceful escape

The Isle of Bute
The Isle of Bute

Just a stone’s throw from Glasgow, beautiful Bute is accessible by a short ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde, but it’s a world away in terms of peace, quiet and tranquillity. First stop is the seaside town of Rothesay, where you’ll be greeted with palm trees along the shoreline and a mild climate. It’s also home to pretty Victorian-styled shops, cafes and Rothesay Castle – a large 13th-century landmark in the middle of town. One of the island’s attractions is the opulent Mount Stuart House, a Victorian Gothic palace set in 300 acres of woodland. Enjoy fishing trips on Loch Fad or take your bike on one of the many cycling paths, and finish up watching the sun set on Ettrick Bay, in the village of Port Bannatyne – it’s the island’s most accessible golden sand beach with amazing views.

• Stay at The Colintraive hotel, B&B from £100 per night, dogs are welcome for an additional £10. Book online at Colintraivehotel.com

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