Cowes is renowned as one of the world’s most famous sailing destinations, and the maritime gateway to the Isle of Wight. Cowes is also the Island's main port with a harbour that’s easily accessible to all types of vessel and a river that is navigable as far as the county town of Newport. Its position at the heart of the Solent, brings sailors and powerboaters, racers and cruisers flocking to the harbour throughout the season from March to October.
Cowes has always been popular with cruising rallies and is one of the most visited ports on the south coast of England. There is a wide choice of Berthing and Facilities available in Cowes and on the sheltered waters of the River Medina, ranging from fully serviced marinas right at the centre of the town to more peaceful berths and mooring buoys away from it all.
Cowes is increasingly favoured as a destination for motor yachts and RIBS, which are welcomed all year round. The harbour is very accommodating with good mooring facilities available for all types of craft together with ample fuel provisions. Visit our Watersports and Activities section to find out about everything from personal watercraft, fishing and angling, to walks and cycle routes.
A growing number of Tall Ships and Large Yachts are attracted to Cowes, providing real spectator appeal for visitors to the town and harbour.
In addition to its popularity with cruising yachts and powerboats, Cowes hosts an unequalled number of racing events every season. Thousands of yachts sail into Cowes each year with over 10,000 visitors arriving in the town during each of the season’s major events. Cowes Week is the highlight of the British yacht racing calendar, and the Round the Island Race, which starts and finishes in Cowes, is one of the largest participatory events in the world. Read more in Local Yacht Clubs and Racing.
As well as recreational craft, there are also a large number of commercial movements into both East and West Cowes, with high-speed ferries, car ferries, and commercial craft up to 100m in length moving in and out of the harbour and river. In this busy marine environment it is essential for everyone’s safety and enjoyment that all water users understand how to navigate safely in a crowded river and harbour, and know the local regulations as well as the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs). Navigational information for leisure vessels, specific to Cowes Harbour, is contained within Small Craft Navigation. Although incidents are a rare occurrence in Cowes we can offer support and assistance to those in need, please see our Emergency Guidance for Visitors.
For more information about Cowes, visit: Cowes.co.uk.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Cowes and do visit us again soon!
Sailing to and from the UK
Anyone who owns, or is responsible for, a leisure craft (such as a yacht) that sails to or from locations outside the UK is required to provide vessel and goods documentation.
For VAT purposes, the Channel Islands are treated as being outside the UK and the European Community.
All boaters prior to arrival must consider:
• whether you tell the UK Border Force of your arrival depends on the location of your last port of call;
• if you are arriving from another EU country, you only need to contact Border Force if you have goods to declare and if anyone onboard requires immigration clearance;
• if you are travelling by leisure craft from a non-EU country, you must phone the National Yachtline on 0845 723 1110.
For more information, visit gov.uk.