The Isle of Wight lies approximately 4 miles off the central southern coast of England. It's the UK's most accessible Island - at 23 miles [37km] by 31miles [21km] it's easy to get around. More than half the Island is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with 500 miles of award-winning public footpaths and bridleways. Almost 30 miles of its seashore is Heritage Coast. The Isle of Wight boasts stunning coastal scenery, unspoilt forests and woodland, natural river valleys and a wealth of fascinating attractions. The Isle of Wight's mild climate and exceptional number of sunshine-hours make it a favourite holiday destination for people of all ages.
Isle of Wight Tourist Information Centres have detailed local information. This includes maps and routes for walkers and cyclists, details of cycle hire firms, horse riding routes, guided walks and so forth. You will find a tourist information centre in each main town on the island.
Cowes is best known as the world's premier yachting centre and lies at the mouth of the Medina River. With its natural harbour it's the island's main port. Yachtsmen from around the world participate in the island's prestigious sailing events. Best known of these is Cowes Week - held annually at the beginning of August. The high-speed passenger catamaran service to Southampton can be found at Fountain Quay. The magnificent Osborne House at East Cowes is the former seaside holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is preserved much as it was when the Queen died here in 1901.
Newport is The Isle if Wight's principal town and main shopping centre. Excellent roads and bus services make it easy to reach from anywhere on the Island. The colonnaded Guildhall - designed by John Nash - now houses the Museum of Island History. On the western bank of the river, are pubs, sports facilities and a cycle way to Cowes. Leisure sports are available at Seaclose Park and at the nearby Mountbatten Centre. This is a modern complex with an indoor swimming pool, theatre and adjoining Arboretum. Carisbrook Castle is just outside Newport - a mile and a quarter to the South West.
Ryde's main attraction is miles of glorious golden sand and shallow coastal waters which extend around the coast to Springvale and Seaview. Its firm, sandy beaches are ideal for beach games. The Esplanade has a marina, beautiful gardens and activities for all the family. A plaque on the sea wall commemorates the epic voyage of The First Fleet, which anchored off the Mother Bank, before setting sail for Australia's Botany Bay in 1787.
The twin resorts of Sandown and Shanklin have delighted generations of holidaymakers for over 150 years. The Victorians laid out the broad seafront promenades, beautiful parks and gardens. The cliff-top coastal path offers walkers panoramic views of the bay. Sandown seafront is just yards from the town's shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Shanklin is a town of great character and charm with many interesting small shops. Sheltering cliffs provide the ideal suntrap position for the seafront Esplanade. There is a variety of amenities and attractions here. These include safe bathing from a sandy beach, water sports, car parks, amusements and a host of pubs and restaurants.
Built on a series of terraces beneath St. Boniface Down, Ventnor is one of the sunniest spots on the Island. The western end of the Esplanade adjoins the coastal path along the western cliffs, affording spectacular views of the bay.
The Isle of Wight is an island for all seasons: easily accessible with what many feel are the best of Southern England's landscape features - miles of wild and beautiful coastline and a green heartland of rural charm and timeless tranquility.
The official Isle of Wight Tourist Board website can be found at www.islandbreaks.co.uk.