England’s largest island, the Isle of Wight, sits just a short sea crossing over the Solent from the southern mainland coast of the United Kingdom. It has been enjoyed as a holiday and short break destination since the 18th Century and became one of Europe’s most fashionable resorts after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as their private home.
The Island, as it is known, is just approximately 23 miles long from the most easterly point near Bembridge to the famous landmark of the Needles stacks and lighthouse at its western tip. The internationally renowned sailing town of Cowes sits at the northern point of the diamond-shaped island and the most southerly point is marked by another lighthouse 13 miles away at St Catherine’s point. The total area of the Isle of Wight is approximately 147 square miles and almost half has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Isle of Wight is shaped like a diamond and so 57 miles of coastline is available to explore whilst you are never more than a few miles from the sea wherever you are on the Island. Each coast is very different in character and ranges from river estuaries to soaring cliffs, with secluded coves perfect for rock-pooling and beautiful beaches for swimming and sunbathing in the summer months.
Despite being an island, it’s true to say that “no island comes this close” as it could not be easier to travel to the Island from the ports of Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington in the new Forest. There are anything up to 300 ferry services every day to and from the Isle of Wight which range from the Hovertravel hovercraft service to large vehicle ferries operated by Wightlink and Red Funnel.