You can fly from more than 20 airports across the UK, and you can hire a car from the airport at Ronaldsway or use the extensive public transport network.
If you go by ferry, you can tour the Isle of Man in your own car. The Steam Packet Company operates services to Douglas from Heysham in Lancashire, Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast. The journey from Liverpool takes around 3½ hours. Fares vary; expect to pay £200-£250 return for a couple in a car.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s is no ban on caravans on the Isle of Man, although you do have to apply for a permit from the Island’s Department of Local Government and the Environment with details of your stay.
Port Erin IM9 6PP
01624 823725 www.arches-porterin.com
The Arches is a B&B, yes… but that’s like saying a Ferrari is a car. It’s a five-star boutique experience with spa baths and a heated indoor swimming pool – perfect after a long walk or exploring session.
Double rooms from £120 a night.
Bride IM7 4AP
01624 880364 www.ballachrink.co.uk
On a farm with uninterrupted views to Barrule and Snaefell, Ballachrink is a peaceful and spacious farmhouse. It’s a great base for the north of the island, with excellent walking and birdwatching.
Double rooms £75 a night.
Douglas, IM1 4LE
01624 664414 www.14north.im
Located in a 19th-century former timber merchant’s house, this is a family-run restaurant dedicated to showcasing the finest produce of Manx farmers, fisherman and artisans.
Evening starters from £5 to £10, mains £14-£19.
Bar and Grill
The Swiss House
St Johns IM4 3NP
01624 801657 www.theswisshouse.co.uk
The Swiss House certainly looks different. Inside, the delicious food is cooked on a charcoal grill. Located in the stunning surroundings of Glen Helen, with Rhenass waterfall close by.
Evening starters £5.50-£8.95, mains £14-£29.50.
Fish and Chips
Quayside Fish and Chip Takeaway
Peel IM5 1AR
I’ve had fish and chips in places all across the British Isles, but the meal I had from Quayside (then named The Water’s Edge) I remember to this day. Once bought, it’s a quick walk to the top of the harbour to sit and eat while watching the boats.
Cod and chips costs around £5.30.
You Must Try…
Manx Kippers. They have been the island’s delicacy since around the 1870s, and once smokehouses could be found all around the island. Today, the two remaining curers are based in Peel – the spiritual home of the kipper. Many restaurants on the island serve them, too. Or you can have them posted to you direct – order from www.manxkippers.com.
My Favourite Walk
One of the very best walks on the island is along the coast from Port St Mary to Port Erin. Walk this and you’ll be rewarded with sheer cliffs, spectacular scenery and water wildlife aplenty. Traversing over land with names like Spanish Head and Burroo Ned, the walk passes by the excellent Sound Visitor Centre and Restaurant for a stop en route. It’s not the shortest, at just over five miles, and in some sections there are some challenging rises and falls, but it is waymarked along the length as it’s part of the Manx Coastal Walk – and it has a steam train ride back to the start! (Regular Isle of Man Steam Railway services start in mid-March).
The Manx Glens
On a bright spring morning, or a sultry summer’s day, it’s worth exploring one of the Isle of Man’s 18 National Glens. These deep green valleys plunge from hill to coast, winding through waterfalls, caves and rock pools, all kept in a semi-natural state by the Manx Government. Many first became tourist attractions in the Victorian era. Glen Groudle, for example, once boasted a small zoo, dancefloor and bandstand. Other notable glens include Glen Helen, with stately trees; Glen Maye, with lush green plant life; and the steep Dhoon Glen, with 190 steps, and a 40m waterfall. www.visitisleofman.com
If you are only on the island for a day, head to the south-west to visit The National Folk Museum at Cregneash. It shows what life was like in a 19th-century Manx crofting community, with demonstrations of traditional farming, wool dying, weaving, blacksmithing and more.
Entry £5. 01624 648000, www.storyofmann.com
On a Rainy Day…
When the weather is wet, The House of Manannan in Peel is hard to beat. Using state of the art displays, the centre explores the island’s Celtic, Viking and maritime heritage and traditions. The building itself is based on Manx vernacular architecture. There’s enough here to captivate all ages.
Entry £6, www.storyofmann.com