Bikes, boats and jam

Plenty on site, with the beaches, the pool and the tennis. Try treasure hunts, kayaking, paddleboarding, cycling or sailing. Back on the mainland, Essex Outdoors Mersea offers zip wires, archery and aerial adventures. There’s golf at Forrester park, a spa at Five Lakes and strawberry jam at Tiptree.

Country kids

No chance of cabin fever here. Not with the heated outdoor swimming pool open from April to October, plus the outdoor games equipment, including table tennis and table football. Then there’s the bikes you can pick up and drop off as you please, and fishing equipment also available during your stay.

There’s plenty more on site to make the hours vanish. Let us arrange treasure hunts, kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing. If that’s not enough, the mainland beckons over the causeway. Kick things off at Essex Outdoors Mersea with 80-metre zip wires, archery, aerial adventures, aerial trekking, caving or climbing.

Colchester Zoo is one of the country’s best, with over 260 species and plenty of child-friendly play areas. Alongside lions, tigers and bears, you’ll find komodo dragons, lemurs, chimps and much more. Or for traditional seaside fun, make it Southend, for the world’s longest pier and Adventure Island theme park.

Head to Great Notley for 100 acres of parkland and the home of Sky Ropes and Essex’s longest play trail. Ride the giant see-saw and let off steam in the climbing forest and on the tyre swings, sand pits, rope climbers, slides, forts and water play area. Or meet chinchillas, donkeys, llamas, ponies, rabbits, snakes and meerkats at Lee Valley.

A table full of food with people enjoying a meal.

For the grown ups

Everything’s in place here for you to chillax, even though Osea does have a boho reputation as host to concerts, painters, spies, raves and rehabbing A-listers. But you’ll probably just want to bury your head in a book, ramble along the sands and gulp great lungfuls of fresh sea air.

If you want to do more, you might consider boating, kayaking, fishing or foraging. Enjoy cycling? Just pick up a bike. There are plenty lying around. But if you want to break the serenity and head back to the mainstream mainland for a few hours, Essex offers everything from golf to shopping and more.

Head to Heybridge Basin, just five minutes away, with two pubs close to the sea wall, where walks offer views across to Maldon, lots of birdlife and boats. Consider the Combined Military Services Museum at Maldon or take a trundle around Tollesbury, an old estuary village with boats from different eras sitting silently in the creeks.

Find the fairways at Forrester Park, an 18-hole course with old and newer sections. Or try Five Lakes, with two golf courses and a spa, or the excellent shopping, cathedral and riverside restaurants of Colchester. Try Tiptree, for strawberries and delicious jams. Don’t leave without seeing the Wilkin family’s visitor centre, museum and tea rooms.