'I don't want to go to Idaho,
I don't want to go to Tennessee.
Let me spend a while on Mona's Isle
-That's the life for me'
So ran the lyrics of a jolly seaside song played at the Manx Museum over archive footage of Victorian tourists enjoying the Douglas promenade. While the jaunty piano and George Formby-esque vocals echo a bygone era, the song is actually a pastiche created to provide a musical backdrop, and was probably recorded in a garage in 1994. That said, the song does reflect a time when the Isle of Man was a popular beach destination: a more secluded version of Rhyl or Blackpool that British families flocked to. Of course for many of us the beaches of southern Spain are now both cheaper and more convenient to access meaning that the island is now more of a boutique destination.
Indeed with the onset of the recession, the Isle of Man has adopted a distinctly laissez-faire attitude to tourism and has placed its eggs in one basket with the summer TT Festival. My own experiences of the island have stemmed from the annual Easter Athletics Festival, a yearly event organised by Manx Athletics. It may not match the TT for speed, but it's a great way to get to know the island.
The choice is simple- ferry or by air.
Unfortunately the liquidation of carriers such as Euromanx, Aer Arann and Manx Airlines, as well the discontinued routes from Eastern Airways means there's less competition than there used to be.
Flybe serves the largest number of UK airports, offering services from Manchester, Birmingham , Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gatwick and Luton. Typical fares booked well in advance start at about £50 from Manchester and £80 from Birmingham (Euromanx used to operate a scheduled service from London City for the same price- hence my point about lack of competition)
Manx2 is another key carrier, serving Gloucester M5, Belfast City, Blackpool, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle and Oxford. Be prepared for a Biggles-like experience in a very tiny plane if you choose to fly with them!
Other services include Easyjet flights from Liverpool, Aer Lingus from Dublin and Blue Islands services from Jersey and Guernsey.
Isle of Man Airport- the islands airport is located at Ronaldsway in the south east of the island, roughtly 6 miles from the capital, Douglas. The airport itself is very modern, although without the range of shops and services one would find in a major UK airport. Half-hourly buses link the airport to Douglas (£3 single, journey takes around half an hour) and the buses stop right outside the town's main ferry terminal. Taxis take 15-20 minutes and will set you back around £20.
If you prefer the ferry option, then the Isle of Man Steam Packet company offer great value services from Liverpool or Heysham in Lancashire (during the winter months the latter service operates from Birkenhead).
The Liverpool route is covered by the fast catamaran Manannan, which links you to Douglas in 2 hours 45 minutes. Prices start at £30 return for foot passengers if you book early (size restrictions on large vehicles so check their website). The ferry departs from Albert dock which is a 15 minute walk from Liverpool Lime Street station and only 5 minutes from James Street station. You can check bags in and walk straight on board with no lengthy security checks. Be warned that if seas are rough then the catamaran service will not operate. You'll most likely be transferred (free of charge) to the slow boat from Heysham which means a lengthy delay to your journey. Because of this, it's worth keeping an eye on shipping forecasts and the Steam Packet website so that you can plan ahead.
Manannan has several passenger lounges as well as a bar at the rear and a café at the centre of the ship (be warned- it's expensive and a full English breakfast is £7.99). There's also a mini-cinema and a children's area with beanbags, toys and televisions. You'll find a small outdoor area at the rear where you can soak up the sea air (and the pungent fumes of marine fuel). The upstairs of the craft is largely taken up with various 'exclusive' lounges that you can access for a small fee, but as it's such a short journey I didn't bother with these.
Heysham is operated by the larger car ferry Ben-My-Chree which takes around 3 and a half hours to reach the island. Heysham port can be easily reached from the town's railway station, which has links to Morecambe and Lancaster. The Ben-My-Chree has a lot more in the way of onboard services with passenger cabins that can be reserved and a special lounge for passengers with dogs.
The Douglas ferry terminal is a short walk from the centre of the town. It also has an airport-style conveyor belt to retrieve luggage and a large Costa coffee. Adjacent to the terminal is the town's bus station, from which you can access other parts of the island.
Places to see
Compared to British towns of a similar size, Douglas shows few signs of economic decline. The narrow main shopping street has a healthy ratio of independent stores to chain retailers even if prices are generally a little higher, particularly for food (unfortunately the local Marks & Spencer seems to have set the prices for the rest of the town).
The main attraction is the award-winning Manx Museum, accessed either from a lift at street level or from climbing a daunting hill. Admission is free and highlights include:
-'The Story of Mann' - a 20-minute video retelling the island's history (it's actually very funny- not on purpose though)
-Exhibitions on the Manx language
-A section on Manx emigrants to the New World
-A mock-up of Douglas in its tourism heyday
-A taxidermy section with all manner of stuffed island wildlife on display
The museum really is brilliant, especially if your time is limited and you want an easy introduction to the culture and history of the island.
Perhaps the best beach on the island, situated on the southern tip of the Isle of Man. On a fine summer's day this little cove has a real touch of the Mediterranean about it. The main pub by the beach frequently has live music during the high season and has a very good range of ales.
The island's cultural capital, situated on the west coast of the island. Here you can visit the House of Manannan museum, which sheds light on the island's Viking past. There's also a charming kipper factory that offer tours. The most eye-catching attraction is the former Viking fortress of Peel castle, which is connected to the town via a causeway. On a fine day, a walk up Peel hill gives you spectacular views of the island and you may be able to make out Northern Ireland in the far distance.
The Tynwald Hill, St Johns- the site where the island's parliament (the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world) meets on Tynwald Day. It's a very grand grass mound with a nice pub opposite.
The Laxey Wheel- at the time this was the largest water wheel in the world. A potent symbol of the island's industrial past.
(Bear in mind there are plenty of other sites of interest on the island. However, as I don't have a car I've listed sites that are relatively to see using public transport).
My experience of Isle of Man accommodation is limited to Douglas but here's a brief guide:
Rotherham House (Broadway)- very cheap at £19.95 a night. Rooms vary in size and not all have an ensuite but all have been recently renovated. A kitchen is available for those wishing to self-cater.
Thiseldo (Woodville Terrace)- rooms start from £25 per person per night with breakfast. Quite old-fashioned in its décor but this adds to its charm. Very nice but cosy bar in the basement.
Strathmore House (Stanley Terrace)- very friendly family-run hotel, feels more like a home than a B&B! Starts from around £20 per night with breakfast.
Hilton hotel (Promenade) - a more expensive option but plenty of deals are available. Great location right on the sea front and you also get use of a health centre and casino.
So that's my review of the island. It's still a relatively cheap holiday if you use the ferry and you're willing to opt for basic accommodation. Otherwise it's almost certainly going to be more expensive than a similar stay in one of the traditional package destinations. However, for most parts of the UK it's easier to reach than other similarly 'rugged' destinations like the Scottish highlands or Cornwall. It's also a great place for a holiday if you're genuinely interested in the island itself- it is a unique place culturally and historically and while you are in the geographical centre of the British Isles, it truly does offer a way to 'get away from it all'.
Having lived on the Island all of my life (20 years) and having lived in England for University for two years, I can really see both the ups and downs of the Island.
(1) Very low crime rate - I always feel safe on the Island, in England I constantly was watching my back!
(2) Small community means that everyone helps each other out.
(3) Beautiful unspoiled countryside.
(4) The tourist attractions can fill in a day or two (the Laxey water wheel, Wildlife park, Albert Tower, Horse and electric trams etc)
(5) Beaches everywhere!
(6) WE HAVE CATS WITH NO TAILS!
(7) The TT races.
(8) Cobbled streets and old buildings makes it feel like stepping back in time!
(1) Small community means it easy to make enemies!
(2) There is not a great deal to do... Limited shops and tourist attractions.
(3) Younger people tend to get very bored here, older people love it!
(4) Can work out expensive.
Over all, I would 100% recommend the island for a holiday for an older person, an elderly couple looking for a few days in the coutryside will absolutely love our island.
A younger couple looking for a fun packed holiday - perhaps not so much!
My opinion of the isle having worked there on a M & S referb for 2 weeks, was if I knew where the power switch was on the mainland I would have turned it off! ferry's over priced ( that's what you get with no competition and a closed market), manx people (born there) up their own backsides wouldn't "p" on them if they were on fire. but hey that's the view of someone not on holiday and seeing it for what it is.
This review is of the Isle of Man, a large island situated between Ireland and the UK in the Irish Sea.
The journey for me began by ferry, using The Steam Packet Company's boat, "Ben-my-Chree" which takes just over three hours to cross. You can also however fly by plane, and Easyjet have launched a new service from Liverpool. This is likely to prove cheaper than using the ferry, but you can't of course take your own car.
The ferry journey over is quite easy, I set off from the port of Heysham, and check in was smooth and we boarded promptly. The ferry service has a very good punctuality rate, so you're likely to be in for a reliable journey. I'll write a separate review on the ferry journey itself, but it was comfortable and cost around 80 pounds for two people and a car. The ferry arrived in the capital of the island, Douglas, which is on the south east of the Isle of Man.
I was only staying in the Isle of Man for two days, and I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I went at a time when politics was playing quite a big part in the news stories on the island, as large budget cuts had been made. They were talking about the possibility of 1,000 people being unemployed on the island, from a population of around 80,000 people (fewer of working age).
There were pockets of significant wealth on the island, which is likely to be partly because of the generous tax situation on the Isle of Man. This is really because of the history of the island, which isn't part of the United Kingdom, and isn't part of the European Union, although it does have special arrangements to allow it to trade.
The reverse however is also true, and there were a lot more signs of a lack of wealth on the island than I had imagined. Many buildings were closed, some run down and there was an air in Douglas of the area being not what it was. One newsagent in the centre of Douglas, near the Parliament buildings, had a sign saying that they had installed CCTV due to crime problems, and there clearly problems with graffiti and vandalism in Douglas as well.
In terms of things to do on the island, you might want to experience either driving or motor-cycling around the TT track, which is used in the summer for a range of motorcycle races. During this two week period, the island partly shuts down and focuses entirely on the motorcycle racing. If you do drive around this track, you will see some amazing views of both coastline and mountains, which are one of the highlights of this island.
I'll post separate reviews on the places where I ate and stayed on the island, but there are a wealth of fine dining restaurants, so if you wanted to make a very special weekend on the Isle of Man, you could easily do so. There are a range of food outlets and hotels however, from KFC and McDonalds and cheaper bed and breakfasts, through to the fine dining and expensive hotels.
I enjoyed my time on the Isle of Man, but feel that I'd have struggled to have spent much longer on holiday there. Going in the winter months made a big difference as well, as more shops and outlets were closed, and the wind from the Irish Sea really was very cold! However, the locals were friendly and the island as a whole does feel welcoming.
I only visited two of the towns on the island, Ramsey and Douglas. The views from Ramsey are superb, and I liked the atmosphere in this town. The other two official towns on the Isle of Man are Castletown and Peel, which I was told by an islander is a city as it has a Cathedral.
Overall, this is a fascinating place to go for a holiday, somewhere different and with its own culture. Getting around is easy as there are frequent bus services which reach most parts of the island, there are lots of roads, although the mountain roads can be shut frequently in the winter, and parts of the old railway system remains in places on the island. The locals are welcoming, and although this might not be a place which you'd stay for a long holiday, it makes a superb location for a long weekend.
If you decide to travel and visit the Isle of Man - be warned of the expensive means of travel to & from there.
There are 2 options of travel - ferry & plane.
If you travel by ferry in the summer months - you can travel from Liverpool or Heysham (England), and Dublin & Belfast.
The Seacat is brought in for summer months to help journey times and is supposed to take approx 2.5 hours from Liverpool. However it is a rare occassion that all 4 engines are properly working - or the wind isnt blowing in the wrong direction, so it takes more like 3 hours. The Ben my Chree from Heysham will take 3.5 hours approx and tends to carry the freight as well.
You will find depending on the time of year though that it can be quite expensive to take your car over and passengers. Approx fares in summer months are around £350 return! In the winter you may be lucky enough to grab a cheaper deal and they sometimes do deals of £99 return for a car and 2 passengers (although they only have a limited amount of seats at this price). Also - beware of the windy weather in winter as sometimes the boat may not sail!
So the other alternative is to fly. Flights can be made from a variety of airports throughout the UK - including Liverpool, Manchester, Gatwick, Heathrow, Leeds & Blackpool.
However, in many cases you need to ensure you book your flights well in advance - otherwise you risk having to pay extortionate prices if you leave it until nearer your travel date.
The airline companies do not have any competition so can charge pretty much what they want. If you are lucky to book early enough though - you could get a return flight with Flybe for £40 to Liverpool.
Waterfall Hotel, Isle of Man
Disgracfeul customer service. Ordered some food and the burger came with plasic packaging still on it. Eventually, after managing to bring this to the attention of a member of staff, all other members of the party had finished eating. One jokingly asked if the desserts were free becuase of the inconvenience and the staff hid in the kitchen until we eventually left. This could have easily been rectified with an apology and a complimentary soft drink. A spineless and cowardly attitude to hide from view and disgraceful customer service.
The Isle of Man lies around 50 miles from the coast of Liverpool and other Uk cities such as Fleetwood and Blackpool. It is only 33 miles long and 12 miles wide, and combines a total area of less than 200 square miles. However it is an ideal holiday destination for people of all ages, races and cultures. For example, Douglass which is certainly the pinacle of Manx settlement contains very many attractions which appeal to a wide expanse of peoples. There is something for everyone here. The main frontal coast has over 3 miles of wide shingle beach suitable for sunny afternoons out with the kids. Or if you prefer why not visit one of the many museums. I recommend the Manx museum which has a superb film show section explaining the history of the island itself. Douglass also contains many pubs and clubs ideal for young adults and teenagers. Or for the not-so-young how about taking a ride on the Seacat around the coast or even a bus/train trip to other areas of the island. the choice is yours, Douglass is your oyster!!!!!!!
Okay so it's not Ibiza (not sure i'd want it to be) but the Isle of Man is a gem in the middle of the Irish Sea, this island of around 70,000 inhabitants makes an excellent destination for a long weekend break. Not sure there would be enough to do for a fortnight's holiday. One problem with the Isle of Man is it is an off-shore business centre and a such has a regular clientele for both air and sea transport, making getting to the island a large part of the cost of a trip. However if you shop around you can get good deals on flights if you are able to book some time in advance. My wife's parents live on the island and we have often obtained flights from London City Airport for less than £70 return via British European airlines. The main airline to the Isle of Man is Manx Airlines, which also has deals but flights from Heathrow airport tend to be more expensive, the cheaper flights depart from Luton. Manx and British European also has flights running from regional airports across the UK. Their web sites are given at the end of this opinion. So why visit the island in the first place? Well the population of the island swells to virtually double once a year for the world famous TT motorcycle races. Getting onto the island during the races can be difficult and expensive but a never to be forgotten experience, if you're into motorbikes and enthusiastic frivolity. The TT races are usually first week in June with practices the week before. Races cancelled this year due to the "foot and mouth" crisis. The island has a lot more to offer than motorbikes and low taxes. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. If you've seen the film "Waking Ned", this was shot completely on location in the Isle of Man, although the film's story is set in Ireland. If you haven't seen the film and are considering visiting the Isle of Man, i'd toddle down to your local video shop. Firstly the film is a good giggle b
ut two you'll get a flavour of the views on the island that will take your breath away. As it is not the easiest tourist destination to get to, the island's countryside remains unspoilt and isn't crowded even in the summer. If you're lucky with the weather you can have a picnic and believe you've been transported to a different world. The Isle of Man is a place of legends, fairys and folklore. It has it's own language but now rarely spoken in favour of English. As you approach Douglas (the main town on the island) from Ronaldsway airport you will cross "Fairy Bridge", don't forget to say hello to the fairies, watch your taxi driver tip them a nod. Forgetting could result in bad luck. While there are many Celtic influences the island has it's own character and even it's own government "The House of Keys". Shopping on the island isn't cheap, mainly as most goods have to be shipped over to the island and also due to it's tax status has a large proportion of wealthy inhabitants, in much the same way as Jersey does. Pub prices are generally much cheaper than the UK mainland. One of the islands most famous residents is Norman Wisdom. If you're lucky you might bump into him in Woolworths. Douglas has a good range of shops but you wouldn't go for the shopping. Best time to visit is in the summer allowing you to experience a drive or train ride over Snaefell, the island's mountain. The mountain is often shrowded in fog or even snow in the Winter, so the spring and summer months will give you a better chance of a good view. Once you get out of the towns and pass the "national speed limit applies" signs, that we treat as 60 or 70 mph, here it means no speed limit applies. The limit on the island is that of your nerves and how much you value your life and those of others. Places to visit on the island include Tynwald, the Isle of Man equivalent to the House
s of Parliament (but outdoors with craft centre), Laxey Wheel & Mines (largest water wheel in the world), Isle of Man Steam Railway, Castle Russen, Story of Mann Exhibition, Cregneash Village but best of all the scenery, the Calf of Mann is a must see. The Isle of Man has many cosy pubs, some tucked away on the edges of wooded glens. Some we would recommend are: The Waterfall, Glen May - excellent pub food but can be busy because of this. The Hawthorne, Crosby - also good pub food. The Bridge, Douglas Quay - fun lively atmosphere. Quids In, Douglas Promenade - all drinks a quid, can't complain at that! Restaurants: L'experience, Douglas Promenade - excellent french cuisine Highlander, Crosby - good food in cosy atmosphere but not cheap. Nightclub: We'd recommend Paramount as the best night club on the Island. For places to stay this will depend of your budget. For pampering and style try the Mount Murray Country Club (own golf course) or Sefton Hotel. Mid range hotels included the Empress, Castle Mona and Hilton which are located on the Promenande at Douglas. Small B&B accommodation is plentiful, for more details see the tourist board website listed at the end of this opinion. The Isle of Man has it's own bank notes and coins. UK money is readily accepted everywhere but you will get Manx money in your change. Make sure you get rid of this before you leave. Notes can be exchanged pound for pound at a bank but coins cannot. Often you can ask for UK money in your change if you are going home that day. You're assured of a warm Manx welcome, I hope you have a wonderful time. Further information on the Isle of Man can be found at: http://www.gov.im/tourism/ Details on how to get there can be found at: http://www.manxairlines.com http://www.british-european.com http://www.steam-packet.com
Basing your opinion of the Isle of Man upon what you've seen of it from the infamous Fast Show sketches would quite probably be the worst thing you could do. Not only are the sketches utterly unfunny and devoid of humour of any kind, they are an insult to the Manx people and have a basis built on sand. Manx sand, at that. I jest. The sketches featuring the middle-aged husband and wife from the Isle of Man, holidaying abroad (see: a very wet field in Yorkshire) and loving every moment of it, are at the very least a little wide of the mark. In general, the principle behind the sketches has some basis - the people of the island can come across as somewhat insular and self-reliant. But in many other ways, this small island is one of the hidden gems of the British Isles that many, in the sweeping popularity of package holidays to Spain and Greece, now ignore. Let me make it clear: the Isle of Man is most definitely not for everyone. The vast majority of the island is very similar to quaint English countryside villages you might stumble across in the Lake District. Poorly-lit tea rooms, dusty corner shops and cockles on the beach (Windermere has a beach too, y'know). So before you even think of boarding the ferry, you have to ask yourself if that's the kind of holiday you want. Aside from Douglas, the capital, little of the island is geared towards tourisism in the sense most of think of it today. If you do go, you'd better be prepared to seek out the entertainment if you feel like taking the challenge. With the perhaps overly-pessimistic warning over, I'll elaborate on some of the many finer points of the Isle of Man. Its main selling point, to tourists at least, is its unique history and culture. While still part of the United Kingdom, it is semi-autonomous and has it's own parliament which in turn means it has its own laws, number plates and so on. History buffs will have a field day on the island, which has innumerabl
e sites of interest scattered across its seventy mile length. Most are ancient Viking sites, but there are several particularly impressive castles in towns such as Peel and Castletown. Stepping off the ferry in particular, you feel as if you have just entered a time warp. The ferry terminal has a distinctly 70s feel to it, while the immediate area of Douglas is a curious fusion of 50s buildings and ultra-modern architecture. One moment you can be walking down a narrow lane of shops, the next you're in one of the modern shopping centres. It's a strange experience but the town's character benefits from it. Unlike a lot of English towns, there appears to have been an active decision to maintain at least some of their past, and this is very clear as you walk around. Entertainment-wise, the island is largely stuck in the past. The areas aimed at tourists are populated by antiquated hotels with crumbling walls and musty smells, while the attempts at sea-front entertainment fell behind Blackpool's equivalent a hundred years ago. That said, I do not wish to be too critical. If you want Blackpool, go to Blackpool. Douglas is a much different experience and you should not be going there with false expectations. It has much to offer in its own right. The rest of the island consists of a series of medium-sized towns linked by long, winding roads cutting through the very impressive scenery. Castletown is well worth a look for it's castle and harbour, which hosts the annual tin-bath boat race, which is always worth a look for the men diving twenty feet down into the sea. Port Erin and Port St. Mary lie to the very South of the island and are also nice little villages. If you are travelling to the South for a day out, you can enjoy the novelty of the steam train which is relatively inexpensive but great fun for kids (little and big) in particular. A ticket from Douglas to the end of the line - around a twenty mile journey, taking the
best part of an hour - costs a little over £10 return for an adult. To the West (so I am reliably informed by libertybell) lies Peel, a strange town with a curious atmosphere, but which has a sprawling castle and a superb new museum and exhibition centre telling the story of the Vikings. In particular, the life-size boat which sits half-in and hlaf-out of the building is an awesome site and worth the entry fee (small change) alone. The North of the island is often neglected, but is not to be missed - in my opinion, it has the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere not only on the island, but in this country. Whatever time of year you go, it is home to some beautiful... trees, and things. Laxey is a gorgeous little town which you can get to by electric rail from Douglas. From there you can simply enjoy exploring the town, go down to the beach or as I would recommend on a good day, take the tram up to Snaefell, the highest point on the island. It's a very impressive sight. Just further up sits Ramsey, a good town for shopping buffs and where the electric train from Douglas terminates. The obligatory mention must go to the world-famous TT racing festival. The first time I went to a race, I had no particular feelings toward the sport. By the time the twenty-nine (if I recall correctly) laps were up, I was beginning to see the attraction it holds for so many people. In particular, the opportunity to get so close to the action around the island is breathtaking. You can get right to the edge of a barrier and see sidecars zoom past literally inches from you, at over 100mph. It's an amazing experience and can't be missed if you do visit. Prices on the island are largely comparable to the mainland, with many items in fact being cheaper - beer, for example, which is a boon for alcoholoics like myself. Things like tea-bags and bread, for some reason, are expensive though. If you want to splash out, a loaf from the Ramsey bake
ries is well worth it, and a good taste of the island to take back home. While definitely not for everyone, the Isle of Man is a great location for a short break away. It is very accessible by ferry and air (from Heysham, Liverpool and Manchester most regularly) and even during peak season, it's not all too expensive. I would not stay for longer than a week, as I suspect you would find yourself running short of places to visit and things to do, but for a five-day break, the Isle of Man is a hidden gem that you would be foolish to miss out on.
The Isle of Man in case you didn't know is in the Irish Sea, near Liverpool, above Wales and next to Ireland. It is the only island of the British Isles where on a clear day you can see England, Scotland, Ireland AND Wales from standing at just one point. The Isle of Man is not exactly well-renowned for its nightlife, but mainly for its fantastic scenery and calmness. Because it is not that well-known, there aren't as many tourists and therefore the island is kept relatively clean and uncrowded. I'm not sure of the exact rule but I don't think you're allowed to live there unless you have relatives out there for example. I have been to the island a few times, mainly because my family has friends who live out there. The island does have a kind of "magical" quality about it and it is steeped in many traditions and stories, one being that if you do not say hello to the fairies as you go over a particular bridge on the island, you are meant to get bad luck. However, apart from superstitions, the Isle of Man also is host to the annual TT races (motorbike race) where contestants from all over the world come to take part. "Alice and the Looking Glass", a recent children's film out now was also filmed there, as when I was there about 2 or 3 years ago, there were camera crews everywhere. I would recommend anyone to visit the Isle of Mann - just for the experience.
I spent eight years living in the Isle of Man, after moving from the south of England in 1990. Overall I enjoyed my time there but my overall impression I got from the place is nice place to live, better place to visit. I have nothing against the Island, on contary I am very fond of the place, my parents still live there and I got a good education while I was there. Its just that it can become a very boring place to live, especially if you are a teenager as I was. Your choice is severly limited in the Isle of Man, same shops, same clubs and pubs, same small towns with no new adventures. You may say to me "leave the island for a day trip somewhere" and I would say fair enough, however you either fly which is expensive or you can go by boat which is time-consuming and the sea can be very rough at times. Now, before you start saying that I am anti - Isle of Man, I will tell you of its virtues. The island is extremely picturesque with lots of unspoilt scenary which can be very rewarding, especially with nice sunsets. The island suffers with a lot less crime than many parts of the UK. I could leave my car unlocked if I wanted too, safe in the knowledge that it wouldn't be stolen. The people of the island (the Manx) are extremely friendly and I had no problems in making friends when I first moved over. Again I will re-iterate the fact that I found it a nice place to live, my problem was it was too easy to get bored from a lack of things to do. If you are visiting great! Stay a week or two, do it all and leave with a great impression of the place. If your thinking of moving over, think hard. The choice that England and some transport give you won't be there in the Isle of Man. Once you have been to the same places over and over and you have tried every where else, Britain can seem a long way away...................
The Isle of Man is a very beautiful spot to go to for a holiday. Its quiet, calm and relaxed. Life in this place is at a much slower pace. Perfect for a holiday maker. There is lots to do and see from the Laxey wheel an amazing sight which can be reahed by tram up the mountain to snaefell. It was good to get on a tram it was different and a unique expereince. You can also go on the steam trains to other towns and villages where there are castles and fishing ports to explore. But don`t look out the window when the trains going as u could get a load of black suit in your face, as these trains are fuelled on coal. Look out for the Manx cats which rumour has it Joey Dunlop rode over them in the races and thats how they have no tails. The capital of the island Douglas is one big promenade with unique street lighting and bars and cafes, where you can sit to well beyond nightime in this relaxing environment.
My Grandmother on my Dad's side was born on the Isle of Man - her maiden name was Shimmin. Today I have many relatives who live there including an Aunt (who was born there and now lives in Peel) and a Cousin living in Castletown. Whether it was the Manx in me calling me to the mother country or the chance for a cheapish holiday - we headed to the IOM in June 1999. We rented a small thatched cottage in Port St Mary (on the south side of the Island) from one of our cousins and arrived just as the Southern Part of the TT was ending. Living in Reading, we decided to fly from Heathrow to Ronaldsway rather than wasting a day travelling to Liverpool or Heysham from where the ferries go from. This is not cheap - but you get there pretty quickly. At the Airport, we hired a Ford Focus to take us around the island. Isle of Man is fairly unique. It's a northern island and has a colder climate than say the Isle of Wight. Take some warm clothes with you - remember its on the same latitude as southern Scotland. The weather can change quite quickly. The capital of the IOM is Douglas on the east side of the island which looks like a miniature version of Blackpool, with a prom, trams, nightclubs and amusements but really little else. Its slowly evolving as a number of finance companies and hi-tech outfits taking over. The IOM is a tax haven and a number of banks and other financial institutions have grown up. We took our 3 year old (at the time) and went on the horse drawn trams in Douglas, the Snaefell mountain railway - worth the view at the top - but a bit windy, and 1 stop of the steam railway. Crossing to Peel, we visited a newish museum commemerating the history of the Island in the old Railway Station and had a smashing pub lunch opposite. Peel has this fishing village look about it. The 20th century has arrived in the IOM. We discovered a Mcdonalds in Douglas where our son could gorge himself on
nuggets and fries. On another day we visited the north of the island and went to Ramsey. Overall comments - the Isle of Man is expensive for some items and not for others. Road tax is a lot less there than on the mainland. Bread is expensive. My cousin showed me her bread maker - 'I'm not paying shop prices'. Beer was good and cheap - £1.60 per pint. Petrol is bound to be expensive - its an island after all and not everyone who lives there is a millionaire. We enjoyed our week in the IOM. It is different, old-fashioned and slower - but that what makes it unique. It oozes history - the oldest parliament in the world is there - called Tynwald. So if you want a cheap holiday - head for the Med on a package. If you want something a little different - give the IOM a try. Footnote - There are 2 times when the IOM is very busy. The first is the TT. The second are the races for the older bikes - late August. For the races, many roads are closed off and its difficult to get around. The IOM also is unique in not having any speed limits outside its built up areas. This means you can legitimately drive like a maniac if you wish - though many of the roads are too twisty and there are no motorways.
The Isle of Man is famed as a motor sports haven most notably for the TT bike races held each year. However the TT is just on of many motor sports events the isle holds, there are many more car and bike races based here including national bike races, the national and international car rallies, and karting events. I'm basing much of this opinion on my last visit to the Manx International Rally though the majority of points can be applied to attending any of the other events. My first piece of advice would be to visit the following websites: www.gov.im the official Isle of Man government site, and www.iomtt.com the TT Races website. The government site is well laid out and easy to navigate and contains every piece of information you'd require. Of particular use to the visitor is their accommodation search which allows you to enter preferences including price, grading, special requirements and time of year. They have a comprehensive links section for travelling to the Isle and full events calendar of motor races and other festivals. There are useful background pages including the history of the Isle and popular tourist attractions. The TT pages whilst specifically aimed at TT competitors and spectators are useful for all visitors to the IOM, having links to travel services and accommodation; of particular use is their bulletin board where people regularly list accommodation available or wanted, a very handy place to ask for hints and tips from regular visitors. The TT site has a full list of previous winners, competitor contact details and future event listings. Armed with these two sites it's hard to imagine there's much left to say but here's a few hints and tips I've picked up along the way. Travel - to get to the Isle of Man you have the choice of going by air or sea. By air, there are many flights from UK regional airports, though if travelling to an event it may be wise to make sure you book in advance as the
se can get busy and if you intend to hire a vehicle at the other end you want to have this sorted in advance too. The majority of visitors go by sea so they can take their own vehicles, I wouldn't considering visiting without the use of your own transport whether your own car or hired. By sea there are two main choices - the Sea Cat or Ferry. The Sea Cat is by far the quicker of the two but is more likely to be delayed if the weather is rough. Once again, best to book in advance and get to the port in good time as these will be busy if travelling to an event. However, if travel to an event you'll find lots of other like minded people on board to get you in the spirit! Accommodation - the IOM has accommodation for all budgets and needs from camping to five-star hotels. Many people choose to be based in Douglas or Peel, these are good choices if you're travelling with a family with members who don't want to watch the racing everyday, if based in either of these towns they'll find plenty to keep them occupied as you must remember the racing takes place on closed public roads so it can be difficult to get about the Isle. Last time I visited I hadn't been for many years and must admit when I first stepped off the ferry I was somewhat disheartened. In the past Douglas had been a thriving town and the promenade was a stretch of cared for hotels and guest houses. Now many of the guest houses and hotels are closed down at the extremities of the promenade. I got the feeling that the IOM has maybe lost much of its tourist appeal since I was a child as package and foreign holidays have become more popular and I felt that the motor racing events are somewhat of a lifeline. Despite the disruption events cause I found the locals I met in favour of them and, very friendly and helpful to spectators. It is a shame people don't visit the Isle more, especially with children as it is a magical place close to home. The Isle is small and e
asy to navigate so is ideal to travel around with children, there's the fairy bridge, a giant lives under Peel castle and the cats have no tails - the sort of thing children's' imagination thrive on! Attending events - my number one tip is buy an Ordinance Survey map of the island, especially if attending the rally. Next buy the programme - these can be ordered in advance which is a great idea as you can plan your routes ahead of time. Watching the rally you can easily think you're taking part as the best way is to mark all the stages from the programme onto your map. This will then show you which roads will be closed to form stages and at what times. You can drive up on adjacent roads, park up and watch the stage - the closed roads are well marked off by marshals - at first it can be quite daunting as you think you may have wandered onto a stage by mistake! Take care to note if you will be able to leave the stage before all the racers have gone through - for example, you are allowed to drive and park in a stage before it's closed off and the racing begins, notably those on the hilltops, but you'll have to wait till every competitors gone through to get access out. With planning, I found I could set up a route that meant I saw four or five stages a day, enjoy a bar meal, a service stop (watching the cars being worked on between stages) and have a look at the islands attractions each day! I didn't have to pay to watch any of the stages so the only daily expense was petrol (used v.little) and food. Because the island is so small all the stages are close together. For a rally fan this is quite unique as we are usually used to getting to one stage, two if we trek and long distances in between. For the International Rally we found little traffic though for events like the TT expect it to be much busier. The Isle is well prepared and organised for motorsports events and which are fun to attend as a family, with frien
ds or even on your own. If you don't like motorsports and want to visit the IOM it's best to check if there are any events on the dates you want to visit before booking. I met some people going out on the ferry who had traveled to the isle for a general holiday and were somewhat worried when they heard there's be a rally on, however I met them on the way back too, they'd had a wonderful time, found the locals very helpful when organising how to by-pass the rally and its route, actually watched a stage in the end and enjoyed it very much!
The Isle of Man is an island which I always fancied visiting after my dad told me about going there as a young man. Having now been there, I cannot see myself going there again. It is a nice, clean, picturesque island, that I cannot deny, but it is not all it is cracked-up to be. I really could not get over how expensive it was, even though my husband, small child, and I went self-catering. When we went last year, petrol over here was 69p per litre, and we thought that was dear - there we were paying 75p... A take-away of 1 x fish & chips, and 2 x jumbo sausage & chips was nearly £10. Milk was nearly 50p per pint. And a standard take-away pizza left you with very little change out of a tenner... Our local icecream van sells a cone for 80p - we ended up paying £1.30 each on a very hot day!!! I later worked it out that it would have been cheaper to go to an island like Jersey, which, although smaller, really does have so much more to offer - and it's cheaper. Yes, Ramsey is nice, and the Laxey Wheel is impressive, but the electric tram system was vastly over-priced and Douglas was just like any built-up holiday resort over on the mainland.