The best lidos & splash parks
Splish splash. Forget going for a dip at the leisure centre and instead get yourself a good side dose of Vitamin D with these fab outdoor swimming/splash spots around Hants & IoW.
We all fondly look towards Summer as a balmy period of sunshine and loveliness but then, when it comes, we forget what a hot mess it makes us all.
Thankfully both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are blessed with a wealth of shoreline and beaches to cool us off. But, if you’re not feeling the whole ouchy shingly walk to the waves or the thought of sand getting EVERYWHERE is filling you with dread, then relax as we’re blessed with some amazing outdoor lidos and splash parks for some water-based fun without the whole… beach… thing. If we’ve missed anywhere good, let us know in the comments below.
Starting off with outdoor lidos is Hilsea Lido in the north of Portsmouth. This volunteer-run pool has been popular for decades and was re-opened following a lot of investment (not to mention the current Secretary of State for Defence jumping off crazy high diving boards on prime time TV). It gets VERY busy, and there are often queues to get in but there’s a wonderfully nostalgic 60s charm to it. It also has a pretty impressive diving area – something which you would struggle to find in most pools in the UK. Make sure you check out their Facebook page as its opening depends on getting lifeguards in and opening times can be a bit patchy.
If you can’t quite get in, or don’t fancy going “full” swimming then there’s also a kids’ splash park outside as well which is free entry. Portsmouth has a few other splash parks as well – all free to use – including one located by Canoe Lake in Southsea, there is also another one slightly further along outside the D-Day Museum (and located right by Watkins & Faux who do an amazing lunch) and the D-Day Museum’s fountains have also become an impromptu spot for splashy fun as well.
Over in Petersfield, there’s the Petersfield Open Air Pool. This 25m heated pool is a little bit bijou compared to Hilsea, but the trustees that run it keep it in brilliant condition and organise lots of BBQs and other events. They also have swimming lessons and inflatable sessions for the littlies as well.
One of the most impressive lidos in Hampshire (and possibly the country) is the Aldershot Lido. This is less lido and more waterpark with no less than three water flumes, fountains and a big old sandpit for the toddlers.
Down in Lymington, there’s the awesome Lymington Sea Water Baths that have been open since 1833. This 110m pool is filled with seawater and has an incredible inflatable obstacle course, standup paddle boarding sessions and even aqua jousting (whatever that is!) Being in a prime Summer tourist spot it gets super busy so it’s suggested you pre-book on the website to make sure you get in.
If you can’t get into the Lymington spot then just down the road is the New Forest Water Park in Fordingbrdige with its 4,000 square metre aqua park. As well as taking a punt on the water inflatable obstacle course, you can also book in to try out some cable wakeboarding and stand up paddle boarding as well. It’s also home to the Hampshire Open Water Swim Centre for some wild swimming adventures.
Over on the Island, there’s the Ryde Waterside Pool which is a 25-metre pool with a retractable roof for those rainy days. It’s open year round, so perfect for any random heatwaves we might have in April or September and even has its own sauna cabin.
If you’re looking for smaller splash parks for the little ones there are a huge amount across the area.
Basingstoke has Chineham Park Splash Pad and Eastrop Park, Gosport also has its very own as well.
Over in the Totton and Eling areas, there is Testwood Paddling Pool and Hanger Farm Pool – though these tend to rotate between which is open and can be closed at short notice.
Hedge End also has its own paddling pool at the St Johns Recreation Ground and there’s a bit of free parking and an ice-cream stand there as well (I’ll have a mint Cornetto, please!). And Eastleigh has Fleming Park Paddling Pool just off Passfield Avenue.
On the Isle of Wight depending where you are on the Island, you can pick from Ryde Canoe Lake Splash Park or East Cowes Paddling Pool on the north of the Island, or further south is the Ventnor Paddling Pool.
So grab that bikini, slap on factor 50, and ditch the supermarket paddling pool for a fab Summer’s day splashing around.