Cowes, Isle of Wight
Sometimes referred to as 'West Cowes', the town of Cowes is situated on the northern tip of the island. Being at the mouth of River Medina and centrally located along The Solent, Cowes is known world-wide as a sailing base. Cowes Week, The Round the Island Boat Race, powerboat racing and many other boating events are based in Cowes, attracting sailors from all over the world. Cowes Week sailing regatta is usually in the first week of August and ends with a splendid fireworks display. It is advisable to book accommodation early during these events. There are plenty of places to buy sailing and watersports gear, and even learn to sail if you are here for a little while!
Sailing event or not, Cowes also has plenty of classy bars, cafes and pubs, including a couple of higher end restaurants for anyone wanting to treat themselves. The pretty high street offers boutiques, gift shops, small art galleries and more. It's also easy to pop over the solent to Southampton for a shopping trip as a foot passenger - it takes 20 minutes on the Fast Cat catamaran.
A little further west is Gurnard, another quite affluent area, whose sea front beach huts and holiday chalets are highly sought after.
On the opposite side of the river is East Cowes, accessible from Cowes by foot or car with the Chain Ferry. Although there's not yet as much 'going on' on this side (being mainly residential,) there are plans for a future development to include new retail outlets, accommodation etc. The start of this new development is a new supermarket which recently opened. If you are staying in East Cowes, it's easy to pop over to Cowes, or even get a water taxi up the river. However, you will find the essentials you need in East Cowes, including post office, cafes and food shops. The Red Funnel ferry from Southampton, docks at East Cowes.