Shanklin and Sandown are close to each other, so we decided to spend a day discovering the 2 seaside towns. It took about an hour to get there from our base in Totland Bay.
We went first of all to Shanklin. We parked in the car park in the old town - it is pay and display. We walked into the centre of Shanklin and were a bit disappointed. There are a few old fashioned shops but not a lot else. The old village area though is very pretty. It has lots of places to eat and drink and most of the buildings are thatched, so very picturesque. The only problem is the traffic whizzes past you here, the pavements are quite narrow and especially if you have children with you, you have to be extremely careful all the time.
Shanklin Chine is close to the old village. It is a gorge with rare plants and a waterfall. It has been a tourist attraction since 1817. The word "chine" is apparently only used in the Isle of Wight and Dorset. It means a narrow alley or ravine.
It cost £3.90 for adults and £2.00 for children to enter the chine. It is open between 10 am and 10pm and is illuminated after dusk.
The ravine is lush and has exotic plants. It is a bit dark and damp though, so make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes.
There is a lovely tearoom, and beyond that an exhibition about PLUTO. During World War II, Shanklin Chine was a route to the sea for PLUTO - the Pipeline Under the Ocean. It carried vital fuel under the English Channel to Cherbourg during the Invasion of Normandy in 1944. The exhibition has lots of interesting information all about this, just a short walk away you can actually see some of the original pipeline.
In the afternoon we carried on to Sandown and went to Dinosaur Isle there. This is a purpose built museum. It opened in 2001 and claims to be the first custom built dinosaur museum in Europe. It is very close to the seafront at Sandown.
Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for children. There is a big car park at the back of the museum - it costs £3.40 to park there, but if you go into the museum you have this refunded.
The shape of the building is interesting - it is a pterosaur. Inside the museum are numerous fossils, some life sized models of dinosaurs and a couple of animatronics models. There was also an expert working here who was very friendly and very happy to answer questions. Our son was fascinated with what he was told. He also allowed the children to handle different fossils and bones.
The dinosaur museum is quite good, but we only stayed in there for about half an hour. It would be somewhere to go if the weather was bad, but if it is sunny, I would find something else to do.