Cowes can be reached from Southampton by ferry, and for those arriving without a car, there is an excellent bus network for exploring the island, and there are plenty of walking and cycling paths. Cowes is synonymous with yachting. Each year in August during Cowes Week, the town is descended on by thousands of yachtsmen and spectators. This event dates from 1826 and is the largest regatta of its kind in the world, holding up to 40 daily races for around 1,000 boats. The focal point of the event is the Royal Yacht Squadron in West Cowes Castle, an exclusive gentleman’s club founded in 1815. The town is situated on the banks of a river with a curiously Moorish-sounding name, the River Medina, and in fact there are two towns bearing the name on either side of the river, the main one, West Cowes and the smaller East Cowes. A vehicular chain ferry, the Cowes Floating Bridge links the two towns. Queen Victoria loved this area so much that she had a holiday home near East Cowes called Osborne House, which is open to visitors courtesy of English Heritage.
For events throughout the island, see here.
Map of the area.