Mersea Island, Essex is an island in the Blackwater and Colne Estuaries. It’s connected to the mainland by the Strood, a causeway which often floods at high tide. Although it may only be eight miles square, there are heaps of interesting things to do on Mersea Island.
A brief history of Mersea Island
There is evidence of human settlement on Mersea Island that dates back to pre-Roman times. The island was a very popular holiday destination with the Romans who lived in nearby Camulodunum, now Colchester. Ever since then, fishing has been a major industry, alongside tourism. During both world wars, Mersea Island became a significant place for troops. Troops were stationed on the island and it became heavily fortified and you can still find several observation posts around the island. While other seaside towns suffered a decline in tourism in the 1960s, Mersea Island remained popular due to its isolated and rural atmosphere. It remains popular today, with plenty of beach huts, holiday parks and accommodation on the island.
Things to do in Mersea Island
The island’s surrounding waters are calm and shallow, making it an ideal location for watersports. Many visitors head to Mersea Island to try their hand at paddle boarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing. If you’d like to hire equipment or take lessons, Mersea Island Watersports have friendly instructors who are happy to help. For a more relaxing experience on the water, there are different boat trips that take you around Blackwater River, the Crouch and the Colne.
If you love seafood, then Mersea Island is the place to be. Fishing is one of the main industries on the island and is particularly known for oysters. Since Roman times, oysters have been cultivated in the creeks surrounding the island. Oysters were a staple for the Romans who also used the shells for skin ointments and building materials. You’ll find restaurants and pubs dotted along the beachfront that serve fresh catch from local waters. Some restaurants to look out for are the West Mersea Oyster Bar and the Company Shed.
It’s possible to walk around the entire island, which will take you five hours. You’ll pass the sea wall around the northern half, with tidal flats and farm land on either side. As you get to the southern half, you’ll mostly walk along the beach, passing the Blackwater Estuary and rows of colourful beach huts. If you’re looking for a shorter route, take the circuit round Cudmore Grove Country Park. The circular route takes in the eastern side of Mersea Island which is filled with salt marshes and farmland. It then joins on the edge of Pyefleet Channel, Brightlingsea Reach and the Colne Estuary.
Mersea Island Museum
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Mersea Island, visit the local museum. This independent museum has exhibitions on the local, natural and marine history of the island, from pre Roman times to present day. The maritime industry is particularly impressive and covers everything from fishing and oystering, to boat building and sail making.
In & Around Mersea Island
Peake Spa at Stoke by Nayland Resort
Stoke by Nayland Resort, Keepers Lane, Colchester, Essex, CO6 4PZ