Day Tripping To The Isle Of Wight with Red Funnel Ferries - full review at

Day Tripping To The Isle Of Wight with Red Funnel Ferries

September 14, 2018

Recently I was asked by Red Funnel Ferries if I wanted to try out one of their new self guided day trip packages to the Isle Of Wight. Since having a baby 6 weeks ago, itโ€™s been impossible for Mikey and I to spend any time together, so when Red Funnel asked if Iโ€™d be interested, I thought it would be an excellent excuse for a date day.

Day Tripping To The Isle Of Wight with Red Funnel Ferries - full review at

Self Guided Day Trip Packages

Red Funnel Ferries have four self guided day trips to choose from: The Queen Victoria’s Osborne, Carisbrooke Castle & Newport, Olde-Worlde England and Dinosaur Isle & The Isle Of Wight Zoo. The packages include foot passenger ferry tickets to/from the Isle Of Wight, return bus tickets and tickets for your chosen attractions. This enables you to save up to a whopping 44% on tickets by purchasing the island day packages, as opposed to paying individually for ferry, bus and attraction tickets. Adult tickets are ยฃ29.95 per adult, ยฃ19.95 per child and under 5’s go free.

Dinosaur Isle and Isle Of Wight Zoo Self Guided Day Trip

We decided to choose the Dinosaur Isle and Isle Of Wight Zoo package. We had been toying with the idea of having a mini family holiday on the Isle Of Wight, so we thought that this presented the perfect opportunity for us to scout out the best family friendly attractions that the island has to offer.

Isle Of Wight Zoo, Sandown. We visited the zoo as part of our review of the Red Funnel Ferry self guided day trip packages. See the full review here -

Finding The Ferry

The brochure lists a suggested itinerary for the day. We had intended to stick to the dayโ€™s suggested timetable, but unfortunately we got stuck in traffic and woke up slightly late after a rubbish nightโ€™s sleep with the baby! I would recommend sticking to the plan if you can because the bus ride is quite long and travel takes up a huge chunk of your day. If you leave it too late, you wonโ€™t have enough time to explore the beach and the attractions.

Once in Southampton, we parked up and headed for the ferry terminal. We found it quite difficult to find the right place. Originally we were waiting in the queue for the vehicle ferry without realising it. The ticket offices arenโ€™t in the same place and you need to find another building further down the road if you want to catch the Red Jet passenger ferry.

The Red Jet Ferry

The Red Jet terminal has a small waiting area, two toilets, vending machines, a small cafe and a ticket office. All the ferry times are displayed digitally and the ferries leave frequently. Once on the ferry, it took around twenty minutes to get from Southampton to the Isle Of Wight. They donโ€™t call it the fast ferry for nothing! I recommend finding a window seat if you can as the ferry really does move and itโ€™s fascinating to watch the land disappear so quickly behind you. The ferry is spacious, the seats are comfortable and there are two toilets on board, as well as an area for luggage.

Kites flying at Sandown Beach, Isle Of Wight. Visited as part of Red Funnel Ferry's self guided day trip package - more at

Travelling To Sandown Via Bus

Both the attractions we visited are located in Sandown, which is on the other side of the island. The brochure we took with us explained which buses we needed to catch and the rough times that they would be arriving and departing. We caught the number 2 bus, which arrived just outside the ferry terminal and took us to Newport Station; the journey took about 25 minutes. The bus was very full and rather hot and stuffy. That, combined with the bumpy roads, made for an interesting half an hour and made me feel quite queasy. Judging by the conversations the locals were having, it seems that the bus isnโ€™t usually that crowded. I think we just hit a bit of bad luck – a busy time period coupled with it being a Saturday in the summer holidays.

Newport Station

We arrived at Newport Station and found our connecting bus a few hundred yards away at bus shelter โ€˜Cโ€™. Thankfully we had a few minutes before the bus was due to arrive so I could pop to the car park opposite and use the public toilets (ladies, you know what itโ€™s like when youโ€™ve just had a baby)!

The bus we caught from Newport took us all the way to Sandown and took roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. Itโ€™s a very long journey which is made tedious by all the stopping and starting, as well as the stuffiness of the bus. Itโ€™s saving grace is that the route is quite scenic for the most part. The bus is a double decker which means you have a great view if youโ€™re sitting on the top. The seats have USB sockets, which I wish I had known about before leaving Southampton as my phone died halfway through the day and I left my charger in the car. The buses also have WiFi.

Sandown Beach

After a long journey, we arrived at a sunny Sandown beach. The beach and surrounding cliffs were beautiful. Kites were flying, the locals were sunbathing, shops, stalls and beach side restaurants were buzzing. Sandown beach looked gorgeous, clean, child friendly and had a brilliant atmosphere. There are also toilet block here, which you may be needing after the long bus journey!

Sandown Beach, Isle Of Wight. Visited as part of Red Funnel Ferry's self guided day trip package - more at

Surf School at Sandown beach, Isle Of Wight. We visited as part of our review of Red Funnel Ferry's new self guided day trips. See our full review here -


A Spot Of Lunch

As I mentioned, there are a few beach side restaurants and eateries to choose from if you fancy some food. After spending a good couple of hours on a buses, we definitely wanted a spot of lunch before we explored Sandown further. We found one restaurant and grill that looked alright, but there was extremely loud live music there which totally spoiled the atmosphere. I love live music, but not when Iโ€™m trying to eat and have a conversation with my boyfriend. Also, he only seemed to sing Phil Collinsโ€ฆ Definitely not the place for us!

Salmon special at The Bandstand, Sandown in the Isle Of Wight as part of Red Funnel Ferry's self guided day trip packages to the Isle Of Wight at

Lunch at The Bandstand, Sandown, Isle Of Wight at

We carried on walking along the beach until we found The Bandstand. I have never eaten in a place quite like it. The kitchen, loos and outside seating area are downstairs and the dining area is upstairs, giving diners a spectacular view of Sandown beach. We ate a gorgeous lunch here and if youโ€™re thinking about taking a trip to Sandown for yourself, Iโ€™d definitely recommend popping into The Bandstand and grabbing a bite to eat.

Dinosaur Isle sign post on the Isle Of Wight

Dinosaur Isle and Isle Of Wight Zoo

The Dinosaur Isle museum and the Isle Of Wight Zoo are both within walking distance from the beach. In fact, everything, including the bus stop, is on the same road which makes it convenient and easy to find the attractions, especially if you have children in tow.

From a parents point of view, I would say that kids would find the the Isle Of Wight Zoo more exciting than the dinosaur museum. But thatโ€™s not to say that Dinosaur Isle isnโ€™t worth a visit.

The walk down to the museum and the zoo has quite a few run down looking hotels and buildings, which is a bit of a shame as the beach is so beautiful.

There's an amazing selection of fossils at Dinosaur Isle, Sandown, Isle Of Wight! We visited as part of our self guided tour from Red Funnel Ferries - see our full review of the day trip here

Visit to the Isle Of Wight zoo, Sandown - full review at

Dinosaur Isle

We entered Dinosaur Isle via the โ€˜winter entranceโ€™. Iโ€™m not sure why as we were visiting on a sunny 1st September. The main entrance is huge and the building is very striking, but behind the glass doors to the main entrance you could see all the ex display items being stored there. It was quite off putting and at first we werenโ€™t even sure if the museum was open!

When we eventually found our way in, the lady in the gift shop greeted us and mentioned that photos can be taken anywhere in the museum. Itโ€™s very dark in the exhibit, so if youโ€™re after good photos of their extensive fossil collection or dinosaur models, make sure you take a good camera with you.

Itโ€™s not a very long exhibit, however it is compact and full of interesting fossils and facts, as well as huge dinosaur models and bone collections. If youโ€™re into this sort of thing, it is well worth a visit. If youโ€™re taking children, the first part of the exhibit may be a little dull for them. However, once you reach the huge hall filled with giant dinosaur bones, sculptures and sound effects, things start to get more exciting! There are a few interactive displays for children to play with, drawing challenges, artwork, giant dinosaurs models and other great things for kids to enjoy. Itโ€™s definitely worth a visit, so donโ€™t leave it off your list if you are planning on visiting the Isle Of Wight.

Dinosaur bone display at Dinosaur Isle in the Isle Of Wight. We visited Dinosaur Isle and it's extensive fossil collection as part of our self guided day trip package from Red Funnel Ferries. More at

There's a huge collection of fossils in the Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandiwn, Isle Of Wight. We visited as part of Red Funnel Ferry's new self guided day trip packages - read our full review at


The Isle Of Wight Zoo

From the outside, the Isle Of Wight Zoo looks a bit run down and old fashioned. Once inside however, you wouldnโ€™t know it. The zoo is actually built in an old fort that was used for pumping fuel during the Second World War. There is a special room in the fort which explains the history behind Operation P.L.U.T.O and houses one of the original pumps used.

I wasnโ€™t expecting much from a zoo so close to the sea front and on the outskirts of a small town, but I was actually really impressed. The zoo was clean and a lot bigger than I thought it would be. For an urban zoo, thereโ€™s certainly a lot to see, especially if you manage to catch some of the Keeperโ€™s Talks.

There is a good collection of animals, especially if you like monkeys, lions and tigers! The animals seemed quite used to having humans around; the tigers were happy to be lounging around right next to the fencing. There is also a mini farm section that housed rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, hedgehogs and ferrets.

The zoo was definitely my favourite of the two attractions. I really enjoyed our walk around and would love to take Luke and Oscar there some day.

Overall Thoughts

The Red Funnel self guided day trips are a very clever way of encouraging more people to visit the Isle Of Wight. The atmosphere on the island is very different from what Iโ€™m used to. Everything moves at a slower pace which threw me a bit because, as a mum of two, Iโ€™m used to being surrounded by chaos 24/7.

There is a lot of travelling involved – at least, there is if you chose the Dinosaur Isle and Isle Of Wight Zoo trip. If you discount the drive to Southampton, youโ€™ll be spending a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes on a bus and approximately 50 minutes on the ferry. That means that your total travel time for the day is about 4 hours. Itโ€™s for this reason that I wouldnโ€™t consider this particular day trip package to be a good option for children. Or at least younger children. My eldest is 5 years old and thereโ€™s no way he would have coped with crowded buses or sitting on a bus for that amount of time. I wouldnโ€™t even attempt it with Oscar, who is 5 weeks old.

That being said, if youโ€™re a couple or you fancy exploring somewhere new, this could be a great budget friendly option. Just make sure you have a spare day so you can move at your own pace and soak in the scenery. Itโ€™s worth mentioning that all the other day trip packages have shorter travel times and are much closer to the ferry port, so don’t be put off visiting all the other areas of the island too. Buses seem to be the main method of transport on the Isle Of Wight, so if you miss a bus, there’s always another one coming along a few minutes later.

We really enjoyed our adventure to the Isle of Wight and would love to take the kids there some day. I’ve been looking into other family friendly attractions the island has to offer and it looks as though there’s lots to see and do. The self guided day trips from Red Funnel Ferries are excellent value and well worth it if you don’t mind a little travel time. As I said earlier, our route was long but it also took us through some beautiful countryside which took our minds off the journey.

*Red Funnel Ferries gifted me tickets for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and images are my own.

Day Tripping To The Isle Of Wight with Red Funnel Ferries - full review at

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  • Rachel

    September 14, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Ive never been to the Isle of Wight but have friends who have just moved over there for work reasons and having made the move from London, the one comment is that life is very slow. The beach looks just stunning by the way!

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 14, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      I think we’re just not used to it. Most people lead such busy and hectic lives these days that it comes as a bit of a shock!

  • Sarah Bailey

    September 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    It has been many years since I went to the Isle of Wight – I would love to go back though as it really is such a beautiful looking place and it is amazing how much they have going on.
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…5 Ways to Deal with Unexpected ExpensesMy Profile

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:11 am

      They do have so much going on for such a tiny island, it’s well worth another visit I reckon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Samantha Donnelly

    September 14, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    We love the Isle of White and have been loads of times, I haven’t been to the zoo there in years x

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:12 am

      The zoo is great and was my favourite part of the day. I wasn’t expecting there to be so many animals and for it to be so big!

  • lauren porter

    September 14, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Sounds like a lovely way to spend a day – I’ve never been but is somewhere I hear amazing things about. Would love to see the dinosaur models!

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

      I had heard so many great things about it too, so when Red Funnel Ferries asked if I wanted to review one of their packages, I was really excited to go on a new adventure!

  • Anosa

    September 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I have always wanted to visit the Isle of Wight and now with the idea of a day trip, it is something I would love to do.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:24 am

      It was a great day out, I’d recommend it!

  • Growing clan

    September 14, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    We have never been but it looks like a lovely place to visit but without Baby Bear xx

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

      If you were driving, it would be great for kids, but the bus travel does make it difficult for young children.

  • Pati Robins

    September 15, 2018 at 8:05 am

    oh wow looks like you guys had so much fun , the food looks yummy and zoo was also my favorite part of your trip – i love the guinea pigs ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 15, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Aw the little piggies were so cute! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Stephanie

    September 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I love the Isle of Wight for days like this, the kids love the ferry ride don’t they! I love that it’s all rolled into one package

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:08 am

      The ferry ride is really cool ! I was surprised at how fast we were going, we were flying along!


    September 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    My son is dinosaur mad so he’d love to go to dinosaur isle. The day trip sounds like a great idea to have a little adventure with the family.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Day tripping is definitely the way to go! Loads of fun and adventure and then all back home to your own comfy beds.

  • l dve

    September 15, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Oh I love this! Harry is dinosaur crazy and would literally got nuts to visit the dinosaur isle!! We so need to get a trip organised, I haven’t been since I was young!

  • Emma Raphael

    September 15, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    I am ashamed to say I have travelled all over the world but have never been to the Isle of Wight! We have recently moved back to Hampshire so there’s no excuse now. I have a dinosaur mad toddler too so it has to be done! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:07 am

      Madness! We often overlook the places right under our noses though. You should definitely take the trip if you can, your toddler will love Dinosaur Isle. They also host fossil hunting walks!

  • Yeah Lifestyle

    September 15, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Looks like you all had a fab trip to the Isle of Wight. We do plan to head there in the future and The Red Funnel self guided day trips will be something we would consider taking.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:05 am

      It’s a real great, budget friendly way of visiting the island and it makes it easier for you as all your travel and attraction tickets are paid for at once so there’s no faffing about.

  • Jenni

    September 15, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    I love the sound of the Dinosaur Isle. My boys are crazy about dinosaurs.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:04 am

      I’ve never met a kid who isn’t mad about dinos! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Melanie

    September 16, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Looks like you and your family had an amazing day out. I would deffo hit the beach and try Dinosaur Isle. X

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:03 am

      Dinosaur Isle was really cool, loved the huge dinosaur models and sound effects!

  • jade bremner

    September 16, 2018 at 9:43 am

    I have been looking at holidays on the Isle of wight my mum always says its a great place but living up north now makes it a long long trip down x

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

      It is a great place and I’d say you should go if you can. It is a shame when you live far away, you have to make a real thing of it.

  • WhatLauraLoves

    September 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    What a fab day trip to go on! I’d love to visit the isle of wight as my nana and grandad used to go all of the time and always spoke so highly of it xxx

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

      It is lovely, I loved the beaches and it’s great to take the kids fossil hunting!

  • Nicola Lawson

    September 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    That beach looks great, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf. It’s quite a long distance for me to travel sadly.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:01 am

      Oh that is a shame! ๐Ÿ™

  • bryanna

    September 17, 2018 at 9:54 am

    so my partner has been talking about doing this for absolute ages — you’ve just convinced me that it is a great idea!

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:01 am

      Definitely do it! ๐Ÿ˜€ It is well worth a visit ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Beth Sachs

    September 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    What a fab day trip. I’ve never been to the Isle of Wight but would love to take my kids…maybe half term!

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:00 am

      It was the first time I had been there too and I’d like to go again. The beaches are lovely!

  • Angela Milnes

    September 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    This looks like and sounds like a brilliant adventure. I have never been to the isle of wight so found this interesting to read about. We do like ferries and the seaside and a good meal as well as adventures so this would be an ideal day out for us.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 8:10 am

      I had never been before either, but we had a lovely day out. The ferry is really fun, it’s so fast!

  • Mellissa Williams

    September 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    A day trip to the Isle of Wight sounds like so much fun! I love it there.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 19, 2018 at 7:58 am

      It was great, it’s nice to get away somewhere just for the day. It’s like a big adventure and then you get to go home to the comfort of your own bed again!

  • Lukeosaurus And Me

    September 19, 2018 at 7:58 am

    It’s lovely there, there are some gorgeous beaches!

  • Jenni

    September 20, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Iโ€™ve seen so much about Isle of Wight this summer and it looks amazing. Iโ€™m going to have to go next year, the dinosaur place looks immense

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      September 21, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      I think it’s definitely worth a visit!

  • Crystal

    September 21, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    It certainly looks like you had a wonderful family adventure out and about. Awesome photos.

  • Laura

    September 25, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    I have read so many posts about the Isle of Wight this summer that I am almost positive it’s the universes way of telling me I must go for a visit.

  • Josh

    October 7, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Hi Rachael, Sandown beach looks awesome! I haven’t been there yet. Hope I’ll visit there sooner rather than later. Thanks for the valuable info you provided. Hope that helps other people too!

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