The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is situated about five miles off the south coast of the English mainland and resembles a diamond in shape. It measures just 23 miles east to west and 13 miles north to south - an area of 147 square miles and has a population of around 150,000. The Island is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK, with around one million tourists visiting every year. There is over 60 miles of coastline, which ranges from award winning beaches to spectacular chalk cliffs. The Island, which is divided into two boroughs - Medina & South Wight, was known as ´Vectis´ by the Romans. Newport is the county town, although Ryde is the largest town. The exact centre of the Island is at Shide Corner, on the outskirts of Newport and the highest point is St. Boniface Down at Ventnor.
With more than 500 miles of public footpaths including dramatic coastal paths, Walking is a very popular pastime. The climate here is almost sub-tropical and Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor are regularly at the top of the UK sunshine table. Over 50% of the Island has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with about half of the coastline named as Heritage Coast - an honour only awarded to the finest stretches of coastline in the country. Red squirrels have a particular liking for the surroundings (mainly due to the lack of grey squirrels) and are widely prevalent on the Island, which is almost the final stronghold in the south of the country for these endangered creatures.
The visitor to the Isle of Wight, which is also known as IOW or IW (and is often misspelt, Isle of White) will be spoilt for choice when looking for somewhere to stay, as there is a wide range of excellent accommodation available, such as the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes. Whatever your preference, from luxury hotels to basic campsites, there is a wealth of superb accommodation - with something to suit everyone. Hotels on the Island range from cheap and cheerful to luxurious country house hotels, but all will provide a holiday to remember. There is also a large amount of superb b&bs, guest houses and self catering properties to choose from that will satisfy every taste and budget, with many boasting superb countryside or sea views.
For the visitor who enjoys eating and drinking, there are many superb pubs and restaurants to be found all over the Island. With around one pub for every square mile, the opportunity to quench your thirst is never far away. Most pubs and restaurants provide mouth-watering locally produced food, as well as all your favourite beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. Many hostelries are in prime locations, offering spectacular sea views, with the award winning Spyglass Inn at Ventnor being a good example. Locally brewed beers and wines are also on offer at numerous pubs and restaurants on the Island. Many pubs and restaurants offer special lunch deals and most include a children´s menu and you will find that the vast majority of food available is home cooked.
There are a great many superb Isle of Wight attractions and events to be enjoyed all year round on the Island, with the most well known being Cowes Week. This famous regatta held on The Solent is the biggest international sailing event and attracts thousands of competitors and spectators from all over the world. You will find there are several sailing clubs here, including the Island Sailing Club in Cowes. Music festivals are also very popular, with top acts such as The Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams, Joe Cocker, David Bowie and Paul Weller having performed live at the Isle of Wight Festival or Bestival.