The Isle of Wight just off England's South Coast is a fantastic destination for a UK holiday or short break with family friendly resorts including Shanklin and the beautiful natural landscape of The Needles Park at Alum Bay. See the world famous coloured sands, Needles Rocks and Trinity Lighthouse at Alum Bay from the iconic chairlift or on a boat trip. The island is easily reached by car ferry services from Southampton, Lymington and Portsmouth. Car ferry journey times vary from just 30 minutes to 1 hour. A choice of quick foot passenger services are also available. The quickest is the Southsea, Portsmouth foot passenger hovercraft which takes just 10 minutes to get to Ryde!
The island hosts many famous festivals and events including the annual Cowes Week, a sailing tradition dating back almost 200 years and one of the great original music festivals, the Isle of Wight Festival first held in 1968, and relaunched in 2002. Today the Isle of Wight Festival is one of the island's two award-winning music festivals. The other is Bestival held annually in August at Robin Hill Country Park. The Isle of Wight also hosts a wealth of seasonal themed events around special annual celebrations including Easter and Christmas. Halloween is a highlight when the island transforms into 'The Isle of Fright'.
Families will love trips to the Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown and the magical woodland worlds of Blackgang and Shanklin Chines. The Isle of Wight has one of England's highest number of award-winning beaches dotted around its 57 miles of coast including best beaches at the seaside resorts of Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor. All are great family bathing beaches, and when the wind and waves pick up, Ventnor is popular for surfing. Two of Wight's most popular beaches, Yaverland and Compton Bay are top spots for finding fossils here on 'Dinosaur Island'.
The Isle of Wight has experienced many invasions and influences over the centuries. The Romans who called the island ‘Vectis’ arrived in 43 AD and evidence of their occupation is revealed in Scheduled Ancient Monuments such as Newport Roman Villa. The Romans left in the 5th century, and the Saxons then claimed the island as part of the their Kingdom of Wessex. The Normans established mighty defensive forts like Carisbrooke Castle and in the Tudor period Henry VIII extended defences on the island, constructing Yarmouth Castle and forts at East and West Cowes and Sandown. No visit to the Isle of Wight is complete without a tour of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's beloved family home, Osborne House at East Cowes which has magnificent views across the Solent from the terraces.
The Isle of Wight's compact size makes it perfect for a cycling holiday. An extensive network of walking and cycling trails run around the coast and into the interior, and the island hosts a big cycling festival annually in September and a walking festival each year in October. The Isle of Wight is also fast gaining a reputation as one of the most dog friendly holiday destinations in the UK. You'll find numerous dog friendly beaches and attractions here along with a huge variety of coast and country walks and an impressive choice of dog friendly accommodation. Dogs also travel free on all Wightlink and Red Funnel ferry services to the island.
The Isle of Wight has an amazing variety of holiday accommodation catering for all. Family friendly holiday parks with all inclusive leisure facilities and entertainment sit around the coast close to popular family resorts like Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown. Stay in a luxurious apartment or holiday homes widely available around Freshwater in the north west of the island or book one of Wight's friendly, classic seaside B&Bs in Shanklin, Sandown or Ryde. Holiday cottage accommodation is widely available across the island and many cottages are family friendly and pet friendly. Look out for great deals on short breaks in Wight cottages off peak! Beautifully modernised apartments housed in period properties and classic seaside hotels with tropical gardens are available in all of the island's favourite coastal resorts.