The best lidos & splash parks
Get a good dose of Vitamin D and splashy fun with our top picks for outdoor lidos, aqua parks and splash pools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
Heatwave? Hurrah! Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are blessed with miles of fabulous shoreline and beaches to cool us off. If you’re not right by the coast or feeling the whole ouchy shingly walk to the waves – or the thought of sand getting EVERYWHERE is filling you with dread – relax. We’ve also got some amazing outdoor lidos and splash parks for some water-based fun. Without the whole beach… thing.
Grab that beach towel, slap on some sunscreen, get out there and ditch the supermarket paddling pool for a fab after school splash around.
Starting off with outdoor lidos, we head first to Hilsea Lido in the north of Portsmouth. This volunteer-run pool has been popular for decades and has had a lot of investment to keep it going. It gets VERY busy, and there are often queues to get in, but regulars love its wonderfully nostalgic 60s charm. 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 great kids’ splash park outside as well, which is free to enter.
Over in Petersfield, the Petersfield Open Air Pool also has a big fan club. 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.
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.
Lymington Seawater Baths
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.
New Forest Water Park
If you can’t get into the Lymington spot then just down the road is the New Forest Water Park in Fordingbridge 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.
Tapnell Farm Park Aquapark
Ryde Waterside Pool
Also 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…
Super splash pools
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.
Portsmouth has a few splash parks – all free to use – including one located by Canoe Lake on Southsea Seafront, just to east of South Parade Pier. There’s another one slightly further along outside the D-Day Museum (and located right by Watkins & Faux who do an amazing lunch). Gosport also has its own on the seafront at Stokes Bay.
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 Cornetto, please!). And Eastleigh has Fleming Park Paddling Pool (above), just off Passfield Avenue.
Depending where you are on the Isle of Wight, you can pick from Ryde Canoe Lake Splash Park or East Cowes Paddling Pool on the north of the Island. Further south there’s the Ventnor Paddling Pool (with a model of the Isle of Wight in the middle).