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A guide to the accessible islands of the UK

A beach

There’s nothing quite like an island escape; visiting beautiful beaches and watching spectacular sunsets whilst allowing a wave of tranquillity to wash over you, it truly is a time for relaxation. However, a trip overseas is sometimes unattainable, especially if you’re worried about your accessibility options. Fortunately, there is more to the UK than meets the eye, as a staycation can provide you with all the benefits of a tropical island holiday, not far from the coast.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay with unforgettable views or a rugged retreat in the unspoilt countryside, there is an island holiday for everyone in the UK. Plus, with accessible hotels, restaurants and attractions to explore, your biggest worry will be what to do next! Read on to find out more.  

The Channel Islands

The sea

A warm climate, unrivalled views and bountiful beaches to soak up the sun, both Jersey and Guernsey are lovely locations; although situated just a couple of miles off the coast of France, the Channel Islands are brilliant for those hoping to book a UK island break. With the Gulf of St Malo lending its tropical microclimate to the islands, you can expect higher temperatures and less rain than its UK counterpart, proving that the Channel Islands are a perfect alternative to a foreign holiday.

A lighthouse in Jersey

The larger of the two islands, Jersey fantastically fuses both British and French cultures. The island is a self-governing dependency, so you’ll feel a million miles away from home whilst here. Jersey is perfect if you’re looking for a quiet getaway to reenergise; its collection of beaches, delicious cuisine and undulating hills mean that being at peace is a priority here.

On the other hand, Guernsey with its panoramic sea views that are best experienced from atop one of the island’s dramatic cliffs is a sight to behold. The ideal destination for those who like mystery and intrigue, Guernsey’s history is sure to keep you occupied as your wander amongst the quaint towns and villages.

Getting here

Despite being small in size, Jersey and Guernsey have their own airports and ferry ports, which make getting to the island easier than you may have imagined. With flights from destinations such as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Exeter and Nottingham, the journey typically takes just over an hour and departs on planes from leading airlines such as Flybe, British Airways and Easy Jet. When flying, check with your airline before booking to see if you can arrange special assistance, priority boarding and wheelchair access, if needed, to make your flight run smoother. Having arranged these features in advance will make your process through the airport run smoothly and provide you with peace of mind that you’ll have a comfortable flight.

In addition to travelling to the Channel Islands via a plane, you can also board a ferry. Poole and Portsmouth both travel to the Channel Islands on a Condor Ferry, a service which operates year-round. Poole is the shorter of the journeys, taking around four hours to reach the island, whereas Portsmouth is great if you’d like to spend a little longer at sea, taking eight hours to travel across the Channel.

Whilst on holiday, there are lots of different ways in which you can get around. Fortunately, the islands are relatively small, so making your way around the island is generally easy. However, Enable Jersey offers a wheelchair-adapted car in exchange for a donation to tourists on holiday. Alternatively, taxi companies on the islands are required to have at least 20% of their fleet as designated wheelchair accessible, so make sure to request a vehicle of this type if needed at time of booking.


A view of Guernsey

Things to do

The Channel Islands has a plethora of things to do. From heritage sites and gin tastings to clay pigeon shooting and guided tours, there are lots of accessible options for you to enjoy. One of the best things to do whilst in Jersey and Guernsey is to head to the beach, of which there are many to explore! St. Brelade’s Bay in Jersey is the island’s busiest thanks to its gorgeous views, golden sand and turquoise waters. Disabled access via the slipway and accessible toilets mean that this bay can be enjoyed by anyone and with a selection of restaurants on the seafront, it is a lovely place to spend the day.

Guernsey also has a number of beautiful beaches for you to visit. However, the island is also home to a number of beautiful parks and gardens, including Saumarez park and Candie Gardens. Beautifully restored to the Victorian era, wheelchair users can spend time amongst the flowers and fauna, although care should be taken on the uneven ground. There are no accessible toilets in the gardens, so head inside to the Guernsey Museum, where some can be found.

Where to stay

The Visit Jersey website offers accommodation advice if you’re looking for accessible options. Disabled Access Holidays, Enable Holidays and Fly Jersey are amongst their recommendations although there is a more comprehensive list available for you to view online. Alternatively, the Guernsey page on the Accessable website provides information about where to book whilst on the island.

Isles of Scilly

Scilly isles

Nestled a couple of miles off the coast of the Cornish coastline, the Isles of Scilly make a fantastic holiday destination for those looking to escape to their own little patch of paradise. The archipelago affords a selection of gorgeous beaches lined with golden sand and turquoise waters. The ultimate location for relaxation, the Scilly Isles remain untouched, with few crowds to distract you from the tranquillity the islands provide.

Getting there

Travelling to the Isles of Scilly is made possible by both air and water. However, for those with accessibility issues, making the most of the ferry service is advised. This is due to the shape of the Skybus, which is accessed by a staircase. Additionally, due to being small in size, there is no wheelchair access and little room for manoeuvring around once in the air, which may make carry out activities onboard, such as using your seatbelt, or the emergency exits, difficult.

Boarding in either Penzance or St. Mary’s Quay, the Scillonian III provides a comfortable journey for people with all levels of mobility. Wheelchairs are permitted and, if pre-arranged, one can be provided for your use for the duration of the trip. The ferry also offers an accessible toilet, as well as a lift to make travelling around the ferry easier. Assistance dogs are also allowed onboard when kept on a lead.

Things to do

View of the Isles of Scilly

With the Scilly Isles composed of several smaller islands, there are plenty of things to see and do whilst on holiday. The Island Cinema operates at a number of venues, most of which are wheelchair-friendly, although you should check before purchasing tickets.

Where to stay

The Isles of Scilly, despite being beautiful, can be challenging for those with accessibility issues. However, the Tregarthen’s Hotel and Cottages strive to provide their guests with a comfortable stay. Offering step-free access and ground floor rooms, there are staff members at the hotel who have disability awareness training, as well as a disabled toilet for use in the public area of the hotel.

Isle of Man

Isle of Man countryside

Getting there

Travelling to the Isle of Man is easy and quick, with many major airlines offering flights. Whether you choose to fly with British Airways, Aer Lingus, easyJet or Flybe, each aircraft will be fitted out with accessible features to make your flight more enjoyable. One of the best ways to ensure that you have the best flight possible is by contacting the airline prior to your flight. This way, you can be greeted at the airport by assistance, who will help you board, make your way through the airport and answer any queries that you may have. Additionally, contacting the airline ahead of time means that you can inform them if you need the use of a wheelchair.

Alternatively, a ferry is also a great option. Operating from six ferry ports, the service is provided by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. For those who are interested in travelling by ferry, you can embark a trip from one of the following ports:

  • Belfast
  • Birkenhead
  • Douglas
  • Dublin
  • Heysham
  • Liverpool
The Isle of Man in the evening

Things to do

Boasting a number of things to do, the Isle of Man has lots of accessible activities and excursions to choose from. Villa Marina is the entertainment hub of the island, boasting both the Villa Gaiety theatre and the Villa Marina Arcade. The theatre is accessible to those in a wheelchair, with a dedicated drop-off point, lift access and seating in the stalls. There are also regular performances with captioning, and an Infra-Red Sound Loop System is in place. Personal support is on offer for those who may need help during the performance. Alternatively, one free ticket is available as part of the Essential Companion Scheme.

The Manx National Museum is another great place to visit whilst on the Isle of Man. Bursting with artefacts, there is so much to explore whilst here. The museum is fully accessible, with lift access to each of the floors (bar the archaeology reference gallery, which is accessed by 13 steps). The museum and its parking are free to visitors, with a wheelchair on offer on-site to pre-book. There are power-assisted doors throughout the museum to make getting around easier, and a dedicated quiet room is on offer for those with sensory disabilities who may need to seek refuge for a while.

Where to stay

The Isle of Man is fantastic for those with low mobility, as it offers a variety of accommodation options to ensure you have a comfortable stay. The Visit Isle of Man website is the best place to find information about hotel choices whilst providing information about the National Accessible Scheme, of which many properties on the island comply to.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.