Cornwall is stunning, let's not be coy about it. The imposing cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula, the pretty coastal towns of St. Ives, Padstow, Looe and Bude. The fishing villages of Polperro and Port Isaac. I can even see the appeal of Newquay for a family holiday.
I'll even go as far as admitting that much of the Cornish coast is more stunning than much of the coastline of my beloved Isle of Wight.
Cornwall’s visitor numbers are greater, their waves are higher and I expect the sticks of rock will rot your teeth quicker.
But I still don’t think Cornwall is the UK’s number one holiday destination. For me, it’s the Isle of Wight.
Yes, I’m a little biased having spent many years living on the Island but hear me out.
There’s a perception that the Isle of Wight is a 1950s version of England but in my view it’s more like a mini version of England, so you can see a remarkable variety of coastline on a lump of rock which is just one ninth of the size of Cornwall.
If you stay in the middle of the Isle of Wight you will struggle to drive for more than 25 minutes in any direction without getting your feet wet. If you find a nice B&B in Bude and fancy seeing Land’s End then you will have a four hour round trip. In a car. In summer. Behind a caravan. Admittedly Newquay is more central, but it’s still an hour’s drive to the southerly point.
It’s not just Cornwall, in most English counties you face a choice of either visiting the same few beaches all week or spending hours driving along A-roads.
On the Isle of Wight, it’s feasible to abandon the car for a couple of days and see huge chunks of the Island’s coastline in a short trip on an open top bus. You can spend the morning building sandcastles and eating ice creams on Shanklin beach, eat lunch at a seafood restaurant in charming Steephill Cove and then have one of the South Wight’s rocky beaches all to yourself in the afternoon.
That closeness means you get to know the Island after a couple of days but it also means you can confidently ask a four year old what they want to do today and know that it won't lead to a huge journey.
Some of the main towns are linked by pretty cycle tracks (due to the closure of most of the Island’s railways in the 1960s) so you can avoid the car altogether if you travel a little lighter than we do. The numerous attractions certainly don’t compete with the big theme parks of the mainland, but they are mostly around a tenner and they’re perfect if you want to waste a couple of hours with younger children.
The rarely visited wildlife haven of Newtown Creek feels a world away from the busy sailing town of Cowes, even though they are just five miles apart. The 2p machines which empty your pockets on Sandown Pier are 10 miles from the virtually uninhabited West Wight coastline. Poundland is only a couple of miles from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
People of Cornwall, please don’t be offended. We’ve had some lovely trips to your county and I'm not surprised it is frequently voted as England's favourite holiday destination. But come and see our fair Isle once and I'm confident you'll be back again.
Holiday Park Guru Blog
Occasional thoughts on holidays in England, Wales and Scotland