AN ISLAND OF CONTRASTS
The landscape of the Isle of Wight is so remarkably diverse that the Island is often referred to as “England in miniature”.
The Isle of Wight’s ancient and unspoilt downland attracts walkers, cyclists and nature lovers throughout the year, supported by a comprehensive network of footpaths and bridleways designed to take you deep into the Island’s natural world. The Isle of Wight is an Island of contrasts, and its inland landscapes of rolling downs and lush vegetation are the perfect counterpart to its wind-beaten coast and golden, sandy beaches.
There are 500 miles of well maintained footpaths and bridleways to help you discover the Island’s natural wonders, and with over half of the Island designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nature lovers will not be disappointed. Chalky downland runs like a spine across the Island, and walks across the downs yield some of the best views the Isle of Wight has to offer. You will experience an abundance of flora and fauna, from the famous red squirrel to the Glanville Fritillary butterfly, a species unique to the Island. Rare and protected species such as dormice, voles and Ventnor’s famous wall lizards inhabit the ground whilst graceful birds of prey and rare bats add interest to the skies. The Island is scattered with dense woods and copses alive with wild flowers, and a visit to Brighstone and Parkhurst forests make a pleasant contrast to the walks on the windswept downs. The Isle of Wight isn’t short of more exotic wildlife either, with attractions offering a chance to see rare and exciting species from all around the world.
The Isle of Wight has one of the UK’s most spectacular and diverse coastlines, and along its length you’ll find a wealth of fascinating wildlife, natural beauty and places to explore. The West Wight remains rugged and unspoilt and is a favourite with fossil hunters searching for links with the Island’s rich prehistoric past. East Wight is best known for its miles of sandy beaches and seaside attractions, and is perfect for family holidays where sun, sea and sand are the highest priority.
Our award-winning beaches offer safe, clean entertainment for all ages, and if you tire of the beach you can still sun yourself with tennis, golf, walking, mountain biking and every type of water sport around the Island’s coast. The Island has retained its status as centre of the yachting world, with sailing regattas and maritime events held throughout the year, and for those more adventurous visitors there are opportunities to indulge in sailing, kitesurfing and windsurfing, whatever your ability or age.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND’S NATURAL HERITAGE
The Isle of Wight’s coastal path is 67 miles long, and from it you can enjoy the natural wonders of both coast and countryside. From the rugged prehistoric cliff faces and wide windswept beaches of the West Wight to the miles of golden, sandy coast in the east, you are guaranteed sights of spectacular natural beauty at every turn. Broad estuaries are the perfect environment for bird watchers, with Newtown’s National Nature Reserve and Brading’s RSPB Reserve being popular destinations. The imposing cliffs of the west are one of the most important areas in Europe for fossils. Many finds have been discovered when the wind-beaten cliffs crumble to the beach below. Dinosaur Isle in Sandown exhibits many of these fascinating finds in a friendly and informative style that will appeal to all ages. Breathtaking natural landmarks like The Needles continue to attract thousands of visitors each year, and the Island’s mild climate ensures that its fascinating natural wonders can be appreciated at any time of the year.
The Isle of Wight has its own unique climate and provides fertile ground for natural produce. Organic farming is providing an increasing boost to the Island’s economy, and provides visitors with a world of choice when it comes to eating and drinking. Many restaurants and pubs offer exciting menus based on locally grown produce, with a large selection of Isle of Wight ales and ciders to complement your meal. There are several vineyards on the Island, taking advantage of the mild climate and producing wines which gain high praise. Annual events such as the Garlic Festival showcase locally-grown produce, and provide a fun day of food, drink, crafts and entertainment for even non-garlic lovers. Farmers’ markets are held regularly throughout the Island’s towns, with stalls selling everything from honey to fine cheeses. Of course as an Island the sea provides an abundant variety of natural delights, with Ventnor Bay crab a local speciality.
With its mild climate, wide variety of beautiful landscapes and challenging terrain, the Isle of Wight is a destination that’s made for adventure. From mountain biking to windsurfing, you’ll be guaranteed to leave the island energised and invigorated.