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Ghost Dancing

A Blog of Travel, Photography and General Thoughts


Tony Fenton | May 25th 2015 | Travel

Compton Bay, Isle of Wight

When does an island feel like an island? On a recent trip to the Isle of Wight I wondered about this question.  I love the island for its feel of lots of places to explore and discover, ease of getting around and some beautiful views.  But at times you have to remind yourself that it is an island.  The island is approximately 23 miles by 13 miles, around 150 square miles, so it is a reasonable size although it can be circumnavigated easily in a day.  It is large enough that you can be inland and not feel like it’s an island at all, which is what got me thinking about what makes an island feel like an island?

If you think about it, any land mass is an island as somewhere it is surrounded by water.  Great Britain is an island, yet at this size of area of land we refer to it as “mainland”.  Very small islands, the ones where you can see all or most of the surrounding water very definitely feel like islands.  We experienced that in the Maldives, staying on a tiny dot of land that measured roughly 200m by 100m.  There it was very obviously an island!

Interestingly, Greenland is the world’s largest island at around 2.1 million square kilometres.  Australia at 7.6 million square kilometres is the largest continent, yet still an island.  Personally I would consider only small pieces of land surrounded by water as being true islands.  The Isle of Wight, for me, is at the limit of what I would call an island.  Anything any larger would be another piece of land rather than an island.

The thing I love about the Isle of Wight is how the place entices you to explore.  We saw some great places and there was still more to see if we had had more time.  My favourite area has to be West Wight, particularly Compton Bay and the Needles.  Luckily, for early in the year, we had some good weather, warm enough to sit around outside.  Also some good light for photography with my new camera and lens, a little practice to get totally familiar with it before our main trip later in the year to Yellowstone, Arches, Bryce and Zion National Parks!

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