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Isle-of-WightJust a hop, skip and a jump away, the Isle of Wight is the ideal place to amble on coastal paths, learn watersports and go sailing.

Wight stuff

Although the Isle of Wight is most famous for hosting the world’s biggest sailing regatta, Skandia Cowes week, there are plenty of activities on offer besides yachting. You can try your hand (or feet) at walking along the coastline, leaning to harness the wind’s power by windsurfing or kitesurfing, surfing some of the most reliable breaks in the UK, and even tree climbing.

Try sailing

If you’re not racing, you can still get a feel for what it’s like to be sailing during the world’s biggest yachting regatta. With the UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy, see, based in Cowes, and Skandia (Cowes Week title sponsor), spectators can try sailing during Cowes Week on 27ft (eight metre) keelboats, for free. Anyone over eight years old can give it a go. Book your session at the Parade in Cowes. Now, disabled visitors can also enjoy a taste of yachting by pre-booking on,

You can also book yourself onto a short course if you want to hone your keelboat, dinghy or windsurfing skills. Bookings are taken up until the day before the course, if there is availability.

Up, up, and away

For board sports, X-Isle ( has it covered. Originally founded as a kitesurfing school, X-Isle has rapidly expanded to offer surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and water skiing, and dinghy sailing. A mid-week one-day ‘high as a kite’ session costs £105, and a day’s group surfing lesson, costs £90. A 25km drive from Cowes to Bembridge, you can be on the water within an hour.

Take the coastal road

To escape from the milling crowds in Cowes, head on a 25km jaunt to Yarmouth along the Coastal Path. As well as clifftop views over the Solent, you will also walk on inland paths around the Newtown River Estuary, through villages and woods. You can get a route map and instructions on the Isle of Wight website ( Take the bus back to Cowes via Newport.

Return in May to stretch your legs at the Isle of Wight Walking Festival (, where you can choose guided walks to learn more about the island’s heritage, people and landscape.


Goodleaf (, provide a safe way to scale trees, with a harness and ropes. Based at a private estate on the Isle of Wight, instructors will give you a two-and-a-half-hour session climbing and swinging in the trees. This costs about £35 for adults, and around £25 for 8-16 year-olds.



tree-climbing-248 Hours in Cowes

Pitch up

Most accommodation during Cowes Week is booked up in advance, so it might be worth checking out campsites for availability. 

Lap of luxury

Book ahead to stay at The Hambrough (, in Ventnor (a 45 minute drive to Cowes) for a sea-view room. The head chef of the Ocean seafood restaurant has trained with Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White. You can have a spa treatment in your room, enjoy breakfast in bed and even make an espresso on your own mini-percolator. 


DB’s ( is a tiny restaurant in Cowes that uses quality local produce in its menu of world-inspired food. Very popular, so don’t forget to book! If it’s celebrity-spotting you’re after, try Lugleys, a favourite with the yachties in Newport; or Baan Thai in West Cowes has a seafront view, and is frequented by Ellen MacArthur.

Drunken sailor?

Go on a pub crawl, as all of these are within a stone’s throw of each other. Start at the ultimate yachtie’s pub, the Pier View. Then head to The Anchor for some dancing to live music. Wind down for the evening in the Slate Bar’s comfy sofas, while drinking wine and eating tapas.

More info

See the Isle of Wight tourist board website, for more information.

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