A day in the Isles of Scilly

St Martin's | Great Bay

If you’re looking for a day out that’s a little bit different, head to the Isles of Scilly. From just £75, you can take your family for a very special trip that you’ll never forget. You can cruise from Penzance to St Mary’s (the largest of the islands) or for a little bit more, fly from Land’s End or Newquay in an intimate 8- or 17-seater plane. 

The stunning white sandy beaches, spectacular birds and marine life, and crystal clear turquoise waters are more reminiscent of the Caribbean, yet this island archipelago is just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. The Isles of Scilly are, quite simply, like nowhere else in England. But that’s just half the pull…


If you come by boat on the Scillonian III, you’re likely to leave Penzance at 09.15am arriving on Scilly just before 12 noon. On your way, you’ll enjoy a stunning sea-side view of Cornwall’s quaint villages, the world-renowned open air Minack Theatre and the Land’s End peninsula. The ship is often followed by pods of dolphins and a raft of seabirds, as well as an occasional basking shark. Once on Scilly, you’ll have four hours to explore before departing Scilly again at 4.30pm (check in closes at 4pm) – longer if you fly or fly/cruise. 

Tresco Abbey Garden

One of the biggest draws on Scilly is the world-renowned Tresco Abbey Garden. Described as a perennial Kew without the glass, it hosts myriad exotic plants not found on such a scale anywhere else in England. Even at the winter solstice, there are more than 300 plants in flower. All in all, the sub-tropical garden is home to more than 20,000 species of plants from 80 countries, ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa. On a day trip, you can get a special combined ticket for just £12.95 ticket that covers entrance to the garden and the cost of a return boat to Tresco from St Mary’s with the St Mary’s Boatmen Association.

You can also venture to any of the other inhabited islands – St Agnes, St Martin’s or Bryher – for a leisurely lunch and stroll right off the beaten track. Before you head out though, just make sure there’s a boat that will get you back to St Mary’s in time for your return home!

St Mary's

Many day visitors opt to soak up the Scillonian atmosphere of St Mary’s. From a wander through Hugh Town checking out the local shops and places to eat, you’ll reach the beautiful Porthcressa Beach where the Tourism Information Centre is located. From there you can head up to Buzza Tower with its camera obscurer or walk around the headland to Peninnis Lighthouse and on to Old Town where there are a number of eateries and a stunningly peaceful church yard where Lord Harold Wilson is buried. 

Or from the Quay, you can head up to The Garrison for a beautiful walk around the heavily fortified headland, steeped in history, surrounding the Star Castle. The Garrison offers terrific views of the entire archipelago to give you a sense of what Scilly has to offer, as well as of course the opportunity for a bite to eat at the historic hotel itself.

Alternatively if  you want to explore further afield, you can hire a bike or an electric golf buggy and head off around the island. There’ll be plenty of time to check out the Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements at Halangy Village and Bant’s Carn, and discover the breath taking Porth Hellick and the two nature reserves nearby. Or simply find a beach all to yourself and kick back and relax!  Taxi firms on St Mary’s are very willing to provide a tour of St Mary’s, whilst you could also opt for a tour via horse and carriage for something a little different.

If you fancy being more active, you might enjoy a spectacular round of golf (don’t be distracted by the sensational views!), or go for a horse ride to discover hidden St Mary’s. 

For more information about the Isles of Scilly: www.visitislesofscilly.com

To book your day tip travel to the Isles of Scilly: www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk