The Wight Proms isn’t the only reason to visit the Isle of Wight. In this guest blog, we asked the Isle of Wight Guru to give us his top 5 reasons to turn your Wight Proms visit into a longer holiday
1. 20 Beaches Within 20 Minutes
The Isle of Wight is stuffed to the gunnels with glorious beaches offering something for everyone (apart from people who like swimming in warm water, but what did you expect in England...). We reckon there are more than 20 beaches which are worth a visit all within about a 20 minute drive from the middle of Island.
The best thing is the variety of beaches. There are sandy beaches for swimming and eating chips on the pier (Sandown and others), rocky beaches for searching for crabs (Bembridge), beaches for surfing or bodyboarding (Compton Bay), beaches for watching the world sail past (Cowes) and wide open beaches for kite flying (Appley). There’s even an isolated beach for, ahem, ‘letting it all hang out’, but we won’t dwell on that.
I’m sure other UK holiday counties can offer you at least some of that if you’re willing to spend the week driving around, but if you want convenient access to a huge range of beaches then the Isle of Wight is a solid choice.
2. Rich History
The Isle of Wight’s history is richer than my wife’s chocolate fudge cake. I realise that’s not a very useful analogy since you’ve probably never had my wife’s chocolate fudge cake, but trust me, it’s very rich.
If I was showing off the Island’s heritage on a tour bus, I’d probably start with Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House. The former held Charles I prisoner during a turbulent time which makes today’s politics seem relatively tame. The latter was home to Queen Victoria, who spent many years living on the Island. She even found time to visit Ryde Carnival, although there is no evidence either way as to whether she bought a helium balloon and a glow-stick for the grandchildren.
Other historical oddities and curiosities include four piers, three lighthouses (including one which isn’t very near the sea), two roman villas, a windmill, a steam railway, a rocket testing base, a town hall without a town, a seaside castle and a partridge in a pear tree.
3. It’s Not that Far Away
Obviously the Isle of Wight is a long way away if you are, for example, living in Eastern Russia or onboard the International Space Station.
However, if you are living in most of England or Wales then the Isle of Wight really isn’t all that far away despite parts of it feeling like another world. There are several ferry options which take from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you’re bringing a car and where you’re leaving from.
If you’re in London, you could get onto the Isle of Wight in about 2 hours 40 minutes including the ferry time. I don’t wish to get too competitive but if you were to travel to Cornwall or The Lake District then it would take you roughly twice as long.
From Birmingham, you can be on the Island in four hours including the ferry. So, in theory you could have breakfast at home and lunch or even brunch on the beach without getting a speeding fine.
4. An Attractive Range of Attractions
I did a back-of-the-envelope study once which looked at how many attractions the Isle of Wight has for its size. Admittedly I began the study with a heavy bias, but the numbers concluded that there was an attraction for every 0.8 square miles on the Isle of Wight compared to an attraction for every 3 square miles in Devon or every 2 square miles in Cornwall or Dorset.
Again, it’s fair to admit that the Isle of Wight generally does things on a smaller scale than that mainland (we didn’t get an escalator until the mid-90s) but you’re never too far away from a family friendly day out. And much like the beaches, you won’t spend the whole day in the car to get anywhere since the Isle of Wight is only 23 by 13 miles.
5. There are Plenty of Places to Stay
If you’re so inclined, you can find some really curious places to stay on the Isle of Wight.
For example, you can stay in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage at St Catherines, inside a castle in Carisbrooke, in a hammock at the top of a tree in Shorwell, in a houseboat in Bembridge or even in a fort in the middle of the Solent.
There’s also a good range of independent and chain hotels, as well as more than 20 campsites and about 15 places to try glamping.
Alternatively, lots of families go for one of the Isle of Wight’s holiday parks which offer good value accommodation in seaside locations and a couple of days’ worth of onsite entertainment.
Isle of Wight Guru is an independent guide to cheap ferry travel, free days out and festivals