The Isle of Wight is not on many people’s map, especially if you are not from the UK. It is a small island situated off the coast of Southampton in the south of England and is considered a small jewel by its inhabitants and those in the know, not just because it is shaped like a diamond but also because of its beautiful beaches, picturesque landscape and peaceful way of life. You won’t find much of a rush hour there.
Its location all the way south means it enjoys slightly better weather than the rest of England and when the sun comes out, its many sandy beaches are second to none in the British Isles. The Isle of Wight is the closest experience you can have of Mauritius if you do not want to travel hundreds of kilometres.
Perhaps the strait of sea separating Isle of Wight from the mainland saves it from the grimness of England and only allows the most determined visitors. There are no flights to the island, unless you happen to use one of the two private airports. Celebrities and royalties often cross the sea in helicopters. Otherwise, everyone else will have to jump on the ferry, although there are several and the fastest, the hovercraft, takes just 15 minutes.
Because it’s so close to the mainland, a day trip is not unusual but if you do not wish to rush your visit, and there is plenty to see, you will find an abundance of hotels, B&Bs, apartments, villas and caravans. Indeed, caravanning is a popular British hobby and never more so in these holiday hotspots at home. Caravan sites abound on the Isle of Wight. There are also lots of farms because of its fertile soil so if you prefer a remote farm accommodation, it shouldn’t be hard to find. However, the best option is to get a self-catered accommodation and this self-catered apartment in Shanklin is well situated close to shops, amenities, attractions and beautiful views.
Things to do on the Isle of Wight
Once there and settled down, your main attraction should of course be the beach. There are quite a few sandy beaches, from Sandown and Shanklin, to Ventnor and Ryde. Sea water is clean and regularly inspected.
The other main selling point of the Isle of Wight is its scenery and green lands. Visit farms such as the Garlic Farm, children in particular will have fun petting animals at Colemans Farm, ride horses on the beach or inland (choose from many riding schools), explore gorges such as the Blackgang Chine and Shanklin Chine, ride your bike off-road among the very hilly landscape throughout or take to the sky through parasailing. There are a few outlets where you can hire bicycles well-maintained and plenty of watersports activities to choose from.
You can of course visit the obligatory museum or two and there are also two or three zoos on the island. If you must, go to the Isle of Wight Zoo near Sandown which is a big cat sanctuary; they save tigers and lions from appalling conditions in circuses and your visit will really benefit them.
One disappointing attraction is the Waltzing Waters near Ryde. No matter how complicated it is, watching water shooting out of the ground for 40 minutes under colourful lights is boring. You have been warned.
All in all, the Isle of Wight presents a completely different experience from mainland England. However, it remains no substitute for Mauritius. You will still find the ever-present fish and chips, seafront arcade identical to that in Blackpool, Brighton, Barry Island and throughout the UK and you can’t really escape the unpredictable weather, albeit milder than further north. Compare this with >what you can do in Mauritius.