The Isle of Wight is a favourite traditional family holiday resort. Its popularity dates from Victorian times, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built Osborne House near Cowes and took frequent holidays there. Ventnor, which still displays much of its Victorian heritage, is the Madeira of the Island, set on the steeply terraced Undercliff. It was renowned for its pure air and benign climate, and the former tuberculosis hospital stood in what are now the lovely Botanic Gardens. In themselves the nooks and crannies of Ventnor and the villas of the famous in neighbouring Bonchurch offer much of interest to explore.
The town has all essential services (bank, supermarkets, medical centre) as well as many small independent shops and a remarkable variety of cafés and restaurants. Three beaches are within easy reach of the cottage: Ventnor beach itself, with its recently constructed harbour, fresh fish stall and varied cafés and pubs; the charming privately-run Steephill Cove below the Botanic Gardens, with small cafés, and the secluded beach at Bonchurch at the entrance to the Landslip (with minimal facilities).
The great attractions of the Island for us have been its variety and the abundance of things to do to suit all ages and interests. Bathing, windsurfing, golf, a restored steam railway, good pubs which welcome families, summer Carnivals; flowers, birds, insects, historic churches and houses, Roman remains, geology and fossil-hunting (especially dinosaurs), walks long and short on downland, in woodland and along disused railway lines, even a theme park at Blackgang Chine... it's all on the Isle of Wight!
Here is a selection of useful links.
The Isle of Wight Tourist Card offers discounts on Wightlink car and passenger ferries, and Hovertravel hovercraft and on participating attractions, restaurants and pubs. To use this you need to purchase a card (valid for up to 5 people) from http://www.iowtouristcard.com/.
Isle of Wight County Council (has a huge range of information including links to accommodation, events and services)
A guide to attractions on the Island
The Isle of Wight Index
Wight On Line
The Official Tourism Guide to the Isle of Wight:
Detailed weather forecasts for the Island, plus tide tables
Note that it is cheaper to book on line. Early booking is advisable in high season.
Portsmouth to Fishbourne / Lymington to Yarmouth
Tel. 0871 376 1000 or 023 9285 5230
(Tesco vouchers can be used on Wightlink ferry bookings.)
Southampton to Cowes
Tel. 0844 844 9988 or 023 8024 8500
Southsea to Ryde
(foot passengers only):
tel. 023 9281 1000 (Southsea) / 01983 811000 (Ryde)
(rail link Ryde Pier Head - Shanklin)