The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is quite often shortened to IOW or IW and is commonly spelt incorrectly as ‘Isle of White’. This popular UK holiday destination is one of the best-loved British ‘staycations’ for short breaks and family holidays. You will find the Isle of Wight situated about five miles off the south coast of the English mainland and is roughly shaped like a diamond. It is a small Island measuring just 23 miles east to west and 13 miles north to south and covers an area of 147 square miles (380 square kilometres). The population count of the Island in 2010 was 140,500 permanent residents.
The Isle of Wight consists of 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.
Isle of Wight holidaymakers will be spoilt for choice when looking for somewhere to stay during their visit, 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, with many offering special lunch deals and children´s menus. You will also find that the vast majority of the 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, Paul Weller and Bon Jovi having performed live at the Isle of Wight Festival or Bestival.