Isle of Man Overview
A petite, rugged island to the north west of England, the Isle of Man is best known for its unreserved infatuation with motorbikes. The yearly Manx TT race brings legions of bikers and racers to the island – as well as smoke, noise and speed – while those who can’t make it for race day frequently turn up anyway just to ride the winding country roads.
To dismiss the island as a place for bikers, and bikers only, however, is to overlook sizeable charms. Having staunchly ignored the temptation to welcome resorts and promote itself internationally, the island is stark yet littered with verdant valleys and makes a great place for outdoor types to walk, cycle or just relax. Offshore, pods of Dolphins frolic in the undeniably bitter seas, while bird watchers will find plenty to point their binoculars at.
For the active, quad biking up the island’s muddy green hills or kayaking around the bays to caves and coves inaccessible by land provides ample entertainment. Mountain bikers can push on up the hills too, or you can dive off the coast, around the intimidating ‘drinking dragon’ – an imposing offshore rock formation. Then there are the basking sharks – the second largest fish in the world – for which the Isle of Man has become well known, while seals, sea lions and even the occasional whale provide other startling natural attractions.
The Isle of Man’s towns are laidback places, home to the remains of Victorian era tourism; rustic rural havens alongside numerous crumbling B&Bs. It would be wrong to leave without sampling the local produce, which includes oak-smoked kippers and locally made cheeses; if you wait until September to visit, you can toast a whole horde of treats at the annual Food and Drink Festival. Museums – unsurprisingly often covering motorbike culture – give you a taste of what it is to be an islander, or you can simply grab an ice cream and take a pony ride along the beachfront.
The Isle of Man’s relaxed, away from it all attitude and rocky shores, it turns out, are just as big a draw as the bikes.