5 Reasons to visit the Isle of Man

5 Reasons to visit the Isle of Man

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

The thought of waves crashing against the rocks on a secluded island sounds pretty amazing after the events of the past year. With travelers having to come up with creative itineraries this summer, an island vacation doesn’t have to be crossed off the books. Rather than hit the crowded beaches of Ibiza or Mallorca, why not head for a smaller and less populated spot instead? Surrounded by the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is located almost equidistant between Great Britain and Ireland. Home to a decidedly rogue past, their fierce sense of independence and exotic marsupials, here are five reasons to visit this fascinating island.

  1. A unique mash-up of Celtic and Viking history. Because of its convenient location, the Isle of Man has hosted a wide swath of invaders and visitors. Scandinavian pirates plundered and pillaged the island until they realized that they actually really liked the area and that it also held strategic importance. To bolster the island’s defenses, huge fortresses popped up along the southern shores. Fortified by an octagon-shaped limestone wall, Castle Rushen is one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval castles. Fit for a Norse king in the 1200s, it has served as an army garrison, prison, psychiatric facility, administrative center and, finally, a museum dedicated to the town.
  2. It has a friendly independent streak running to its core. When the Vikings installed a parliamentary-style government a millennium ago, not much has changed. The Isle of Man is not part of the U.K., but rather a crown possession. It is autonomously governed with minimal oversight by the British Home Office. Even the island’s flag pays homage to its independence. Three individual legs create a circular pattern with the meaning, “Whichever way you throw me, I shall stand.”
  3. The Isle of Man TT. What started as an innocuous time-trial race in 1907 has now become one of the premier motorcycle events in the world. The Isle of Man Trophy Tour (TT) is synonymous with a notoriously difficult course more than 37 miles long. Stretched over a week, races are held on public roads through treacherous, windy mountain routes. Thrill-seekers can witness participants zooming at speeds easily topping more than 200 mph. Although it was canceled the past two years, it is currently scheduled to be held in late May through early June 2022.
  4. The great outdoors. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Isle of Man is a fantastic spot for hiking, cycling, bird-watching and more. Tree-lined mountain paths provide shady trails for traversing and windswept coastlines offer spectacular ocean views. With very little light pollution, there are 26 different Dark Sky locations on the island. On a clear night, you can gaze up at the heavens and peer at the millions of stars across the blackened sky.
  5. One-of-a-kind exotic animals. While the island is home to a vast array of wildlife including different bird species, pods of playful dolphins and other marine life, it’s the strange marsupials in the wild that garner most of the attention. After making a great escape from a wildlife park in the northern part of the island in the late 60s or early 70s, two wallabies successfully hid from their captors. After decades of procreation, the Isle of Man is now home to more than 100 wild wallabies—the largest colony in the northern hemisphere.

While it may not have the tropical island feel, the understated and often overlooked Isle of Man has plenty of offerings to keep you entertained and active.

 

 

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