Isle of Wight Stories and Tips

Tips and Hints

* The Isle of Wight is the smallest county in England when it is high tide. This is not the case when the tide goes out - then it actually becomes larger than Rutland.

* To see the island at its scenic best, you should walk at least part of the 65 mile trail called The Coastal Path. It links cross country trails with panoramic views of cliffs, the ocean and the downs. The most scenic part of the path is between Shanklin and Ventnor.

* We came here during Cowes Week - I would definitely recommend coming at this time as it is a great time to visit the island. This is one of the longest running events in UK sporting history. It first took place in 1826 and has become one of the best known sailing regattas in the world. It lasts for 8 days and more than 1,000 boats take part - there are yachts everywhere. The atmosphere throughout the island is carnival like. There are also lots of open-air activities and great entertainment going on.

* Do not be put off by what you see as you get off the ferry on the island at Cowes. We initially were a bit disappointed. Near the ferry ports you can be overwhelmed by coach parties of day trippers. Also some of the resorts are quaint Victorian places, but they have more than their fair share of tatty tourist shops. Head for the western part of the island where it is most unspoilt.

* Visiting any island is a fun adventure for children. Our 8 year old loved it, as the holiday started off with a boat journey. The Isle of Wight is probably one of the most accessible islands in the UK.

* The best time of year to visit the Isle of Wight is between April and September. The island has a quaint and gentle atmosphere - this is one of its main draws, but also means most attractions are closed mid autumn until Easter.

* The ferries dock at Yarmouth (from Lymington), Cowes (Southampton) or Fishbourne Creek (Portsmouth). We travelled from Southampton to Cowes - the trip took 55 minutes and was efficient and comfortable. You get some lovely views of the yachts as you come into Cowes.

* Most roads on the island are minor roads, so you cannot go anywhere fast. All attractions are spread throughout the island, but it does not take long (maybe 40 minutes) to drive from one end to the other. The island is compact and the roads are well signposted. If you prefer to use public transport you can buy Rover tickets for the buses. These allow unlimited travel during your stay. I would advise using a car though - it gives you more flexibility.

* The island is only about 27 miles long at its widest point. It is easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. You can walk for miles without seeing a car, and over half the island is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the scenery just never runs out.

* This is a great place to bring children. There is lots for them to see and do, plus the hotels and other places provide and cater very well for families. Most restaurants had children's menus and lots of pubs had play areas.

* There are miles of beaches - each one has its own character. On some of them you can search for dinosaur fossils, others have rock pools were you can fish for sea creatures and some are sandy and traditional with ice cream shops. Between May and September, dogs are not permitted on a lot of the island's beaches.

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