Lundy Island – Review for families

Whether you're a day tripper or staying for the weekend, here's everything you need to know about North Devon's Lundy Island

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What is it?

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It’s the perfect tiny North Devonshire Island for a family day trip, accessible by ferry at least three times a week. Find the ports in Bideford and Ilfracombe. The Lundy Island’s own ship is called the MS Oldenburg.  The Lundy Shore Office in Bideford post code is EX39 2LY.

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12 +

Cost

£££ – A day return family ticket to Lundy Island on the MS Oldenburg will set you back £80. Once you’ve added in meals, snacks and drinks, that’s an expensive day out indeed.

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What’s on offer

Visit the gorgeous Lundy Island, it’s historic buildings, it’s quaint village and it’s varied wildlife. All parents and adults are sure to be fascinated by the castles, churches, lighthouses and grave markers hidden away on this gem of an island. Young children will enjoy playing in the gardens nearby, whilst the rest of the family learns something.

There are lots of child-suitable activities on offer at Lundy Island, most of which will help your little one really connect with nature. Take mini animal-lovers fishing or bird watching, especially since the island is known for its population of Puffins!  Above and below the water there are a variety of wildlife to witness and discover, including beautiful flowers, carnivorous plants, ponies, Japanese deer, dolphins, whales and grey seals.

Get snorkeling or rock-pooling if you fancy it.. Older children can enjoy diving and climbing, whereas the whole family can enjoy a range of tours and walks led by a warden. Please consult the website for full details of what’s on, when and who is restricted.

One of the best activities on offer is the Lundy’s Letterboxes trail, where families must follow a set of clues to discover all 27 letterboxes on the island. Some of the boxes are in areas of the island tourists usually ignore, so you’ll get a full perspective of your destination on this tour. Of course, in addition to the satisfaction your little one will get from showing you how to complete the trail. Those who fancy a day trip can do a shortened version of the trail.

If you’re feeling chilly and need to get inside the warm, or simply fancy a bite to eat, you can visit Lundy Island’s only pub – The Marisco Tavern. The pub never shuts, now operates a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and acts as a social hub for the small community and tourists. They serve alcohol, but be warned mum and dad, only during permitted hours.

There’s an island shop caters to visitors and tourists with essentials and some souvenirs. There’ll be toilets in The Marisco Tavern on the island. The MS Oldenburg, which carries day passengers to the island has excellent facilities including a bar, buffet, toilets, comfortable heated saloons and an information centre.

Highlights

The general views from the Island are so glorious, so peaceful and generally stunning. Seeing such amazing creatures like the puffins and the seals is a real treat for anyone who gets to see them. If you’re unlucky, you’ll probably just see a lot of seagulls. Nevertheless, hold out hope. Those puffins have to come out sometime, right?

The other highlights depend on the age of your children and your families interests, but we love the pared down Letterboxes trail for ‘day-trippers’ and the Georgian Lighthouse available to visit.

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What to watch out for

– If your child gets seasick or has a fear of boats – this attraction is not for you. Children with mild seasickness should take a travel sickness tablet half an hour before boarding.

– You’re asked to arrive at your chosen port 45 minutes before you expect to board. Arrive early to ensure you get a seat on the MS Oldenburg, too.

– It takes around 2 hours to cross over to Lundy Island each way and you should allow at least 4 hours to explore. An 8-hour day can be quite long with little ones in tow. If you’re worried, consider organizing 2-day trips or stay overnight on the island itself in one of the aforementioned historic buildings.

– Some of the historical buildings on Lundy Island have steep and uneven staircases and therefore, they may not be suitable for children. Make sure to fully scour the website or contact a member of staff for more information if you’re concerned.

The pub can get super busy at meal times, because it’s the only place to eat out! You are asked not to use the beer garden of the tavern unless you are consuming food or drink purchased there. Their lunch menu is necessary but also varied, and the alternative is an al fresco lunch with fresh goods purchased from the shop.

MFM tips:

– A great way to save money on extra costs in the pub would be to stock up on picnic food, snacks and drinks on the mainland. Put them all in a big backpack or picnic box. You’ll be walking so much you won’t be carrying around all that food for long. It’ll soon be gone!

– It’s probably not ideal for babies and very young toddlers, as there’s no specific play area, a lot of walking involved and a lot of natural services making maneuvering a buggy quite difficult. Consider visiting when they’re older and can appreciate the nature OR stay over to avoid the hassle of 4 hours on a ship.

What the owners say

“Lundy lies off the coast of North Devon, where the Atlantic ocean meets the Bristol Channel with nothing between it and America, a granite outcrop, three miles long and half a mile wide. In the hubbub of the modern world it is a place apart, peaceful and unspoiled.

Lundy is never crowded, even in the height of summer when up to five times a week, MS Oldenburg brings day-visitors who stay for a few hours. At all other times those who are staying in the 23 holiday properties and the residents have the island to themselves.”

Visit the official Lundy Island website

Our essential MFM guides to North Devon family attractions:

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Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway
Woolacombe Beach
Tunnels Beaches
Buckland Abbey
Quince Honey Farm
Clovelly Village
Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park

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