I’m so glad you are stopping by to read this Isle of Wight Facts post! The Isle Of Wight, South England has some unique facts that sure is interesting and fun to know about. From award winning beaches and beautiful landscapes, to experiencing dinosaurs and walking in the footsteps of a Queen. The Isle of Wight has it all. There are numerous Isle Of Wight Facts that could have been shared with you, so it was a hard choice to pick these 15 most interesting and fun things for you to know. Written by a local,
The Isle of Wight is a popular destination for a weekend away in the UK, with many facts are about things you can experience and visit if making a day trip or weekend to the island.
Isle Of Wight Facts
Here is the list of what we think are well worth knowing about the Isle of Wight, UK!
1. There is a fully functioning (and the worlds only!) commercial hovercraft.
I bet you didn’t know there is a hovercraft on the island, which is also the last remaining commercial hovercraft service in the world. There are a few other boat companies that can get to the island too, such as the the Fast Cat, Red Funnel and Wightlink. However the hovercraft is the coolest way to travel in style. Established in 1965, the hovercraft has been transporting passengers for more than 50 years. In just 10 minutes you can be across the Solent from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight. Plus the best advantage about the hovercraft is that it can run in low tides as it can hover right up to the terminal.
If you are not travelling to or from Southsea during a visit to the island, you can always watch the hovercraft arrive or leave from Ryde seafront. It’s rather unique to watch!
2. There is the summer house of Queen Victoria.
Did you know that you can explore the grounds and house of the summer house of Queen Victoria? Osborne House located in East Cowes and was completed in 1851. This former royal residence was built for both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with an Italian renaissance style. In 1901 Queen Victoria died at the rural residence, with the house becoming the location of a private museum and even a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy.
These days the royal summer house is under the care of the English Heritage and open to the public all year round. You are able to visit many things such as inside the main house, the full grounds, the private beach and the cottage.
3. You can walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs.
The island is one of the most well known and richest areas for the interesting dinosaur history. There has been recorded over 20 species of dinosaurs recognised on the coast of the island, with some being discovered for the first time there! If you want to go on a dinosaur walk, head to Compton Bay and Yaverland where you can see dinosaur footprints at low tide in the large fossils. You might even find something new and dinosaur related that has yet to have been discovered!
You can also head to the Dinosaur Isle, a fun attraction in Sandown. They have a nice interactive museum to visit and organize public fossil walks throughout the year.
There are also these amazing routes to walk on the Isle of Wight!
4. You can see the Milky Way.
…. if the weather is clear!
The island has some very suitable spots with minimal light pollution, allowing you to capture the beautiful Milky Way. The night sky will always be a mystery, but to spend a night looking up into the darkness is magical. Head to places like Ventnor and the darker areas to the south of the island for a night trip. It might not be as pitch black as other locations in the world, but you will have a pretty good chance to see more than from a city.
Shoutout to the passionate photographer Chad Powell who can be found at 3am on the Isle of Wight coast. You can find and shop his amazing work on his website.
5. There are fluffy red squirrels.
The Isle Of Wight is very unique when it comes to wildlife. You can find yourself watching red squirrels in the woods at specific locations throughout the year. As they are protected species, it is illegal for anyone to introduce a grey squirrel on the Isle of Wight. At peak times, there are up to 3500 red squirrels on the island. This is based on how well the seed crops are in Autumn. I’m a big fan of these cute fluffy animals and feel that it’s a must see for those visiting the island!
Check out my blogpost about the rules and where is best location to see the Red Squirrels here!
6. You can visit the UK’s oldest theme park
Blackgang Chine is a theme park established in the 1840’s. Located at the south of the island near Ventnor, it is built above the cliff tops with fantastic views across the English Channel. Unfortunately these cliff tops are every year eroding and experiencing landslides, causing the theme park to move attractions safer inland. Blackgang Chine is also the sister park of Robin Hill, another theme park on the island close to Newport.
But before all of this, Blackgang Chine was the prime location of local fisherman and the base of a smuggling trade.
Families visiting this theme park can enjoy the different themes built in to the park, such as an underwater kingdom, a fairy village and the cowboy town. You can also get more dinosaur fun here as they have one of the biggest collections of animatronic dinosaurs in the world at their attraction Restricted Area 5. Check out their full size T-Rex too!
7. The island was pretty active during World War One and World War Two.
On the Isle of Wight you can find two batteries at Alum Bay. The Old Battery, built in 1863 and the New Battery, built in 1895. They were built for defence against enemy ships and aircrafts, however after many years the anti-aircraft guns used were causing the beautiful white cliffs to crumble. Both batteries were manned during both World War One and World War two. The two batteries, called The Needles Battery, was also a test site of two space rockets called Black Arrow and Black knight!
During World War One the Isle of Wight was defended from German Torpedo boats, who planned multiple night landings of their troops.
During World War Two there were around 125 attacks during 1940 and 1944 on the island. It was recorded that 92 men, 90 women and 32 children were killed during these years. However up to 70 of those died on one day when Nazi bombers attacked the Isle of Wight in May 1942. The German bombers were targeting mostly the town of Cowes, as that is where many shipyards and aircraft workshops were located. The town Bembridge was also targeted as there were torpedo boats built here. From the bombers, thousands or incendiary bombs were dropped onto these workshops, as well as other buildings. Just under 11,000 buildings were damaged.
Source of statistics – Isle of Wight at War by Adrian Searle
8. No it is not part of France, and you do not need your passport.
Yes, you read that correct! It is known that many searches about the Isle of Wight are whether you need a passport to visit. To their surprise this is not the case. Even though it is always good to carry some ID with you, a passport is not mandatory when crossing the English Channel to the Isle of Wight. The only thing that will be checked is that you have a valid boat ticket!
It doesn’t take long to travel from the mainland UK to the island either. With the car ferries you can expect 45 minutes to 1 hour travel time, with the passenger boats around 25-25minutes based on which ones you use. Else like number #1 you can take the hovercraft in 10 minutes!
The village in the photo is Godshill, a pretty place for a bite to eat and a wander along the street. It’s a lovely little village with a small population round 1500.
9. But yes, they do have their own flag!
Of course being a county of the UK, they have their own flag. However as a local you don’t see it very often and if think I were to ask some people about it, they probably couldn’t share what the main colour it is!
This is because it was only officially registered in 2009 after the winning design was chosen out of 350 entries. The Isle of Wight flag represents the diamond shape island above ocean waves, with the top piece of the diamond showing the River Medina. This river is the largest on the island.
10. You can walk (or take the train) along UK’s oldest, and the UK’s 2nd longest pier.
If you take the Wightlink Fastcat boat from Portsmouth harbour pier to the island, you will experience Ryde pier first thing. Officially opened in July 1814, the pier was built for the boat so that Victorian holidaymakers wouldn’t need to walk across the wet sand when the tide was out. The original planning was to have the pier at 520 meters, but it was extended to 681 meters.
11. There is no motorway to drive on.
The island officially has no motorway, but does have a dual carriageway when leaving the town Newport towards the town Cowes. The dual carriageway has only two main lanes leading from one large roundabout to another. But you sure cannot compare this to anything like the M25 around London. I once read somewhere that on the dual carriageway the national speed limit lasts only 7 seconds.
I am personally a big fan of driving in general and the roads on the island are pretty decent, if you don’t count the ones with the potholes! However not having a motorway is a disadvantage for learner drivers on the Island. They are not required to travel on the mainland UK for some motorway experience, so first time driving off the island can be somewhat scary.
12. It only takes 1 hour driving from East to West.
The length of the Isle of Wight is only 26.5 miles / 42 kms from East to West, making it very easy to drive. This does make it very enjoyable to live on the island, knowing you can see all that the island has to offer close by. Also great for those living in Newport and Carisbrooke, in the center of the island, as you know you will be only maximum 30 minutes away from your work.
I highly recommend hiring a car during a visit as it is so much more easier to access anything you will be visiting. Public transport is doable but can be somewhat costly depending on how many of you and how long you are staying for, as well as having to wait around for the buses.
A fun charity event that you can join in May is the Walk The Wight. This event allows the public to walk the whole (or half) distance of 26.5 miles / 42 kms in one day, with the medal to collect at the end. It is an enjoyable route across the island from East to West. As well as being the perfect event to raise some money for island based charity.
13. There are 8 Wonders based on older times (with funny sayings!)
The island has some funny old sayings and even their own language for some words. Of course this is from olden times when they were mostly used. However I know a few who still use words like Gurt and Caulkhead.
The unique Eight Wonders of the Isle of Wight are:
- Cowes you cannot milk
- Freshwater you cannot drink
- Newport you cannot bottled
- Needles you cannot thread
- Winkle Street where there are no winkles
- Ryde where you walk
- Lake where there is no water
- Newtown which is very old
You can read all about them as well as more island words on our separate post!
14. There is a delicious Garlic Farm.
This Garlic Farm is also the largest producer of garlic in the UK, how yummy! The garlic farm has been growing garlic for more than 40 years and now can produce everything you can think of with garlic. From alcohol, mustard, breads, oils, pestos and of course butters. They also have some lovely events throughout the year, which you can check on their website.
They also have the cutest self catering English cottages as well as luxury yurts that you can stay at during a visit to the island.
15. It is the largest island and second-most populous island in England.
Thanks to Wikipedia for finding this one out, because as an islander I did not know! The Isle of Wight is officially the largest island in England, as well as being the second most populous island. The popularity of the island is highly based on the fact that many over the ages of 65 stay and choose the Isle of Wight for their retirement location. Just like the state of Florida is to the US.
However I’m not sure the island will stay the largest in England, as there are often news articles that the beautiful while cliffs are falling into the sea. Let’s hope the island doesn’t crumble away too fast!
Read more of our Isle of Wight posts!
There are also plenty more Isle Of Wight Facts we could have written about, but these are pretty nice to share with you. When it comes to the countryside landscape I love living on the Isle of Wight as there is truly a bit of everything. Such as award winning beaches and beautiful wooded areas. There are also some enjoyable places to visit for all weather types, which is perfect for couples, families or single travellers.
- Go for at least a weekend to squeeze in some of the best bits, but a week or longer is best
- Renting a car is best as you can get around much easier
- Respect the landscape and nature!
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Did you know all of these Isle Of Wight Facts and fun things about the Isle of Wight? Let us know in the comments!