The Isles of Scilly Guide - Cornwall's Own Tropical Islands
The Isles of Scilly may only be 28 miles away from Lands End, but it feels like a world away from the rest of England and offers a magical escape away from real life. They are a collection of 140 islands, the smallest no larger than a rock and the largest no bigger than three by two miles.
How To Get There?
Ferry - Hop on to the Scillonian III at Penzance Docks and sail across the Atlantic for three hours before reaching St Mary's, the largest island out on the Scilly's. The ferry normally leaves Penzance around 8am which means that you will reach land ready to explore by 11am -the only question you need to ask yourself is, what island first?
Fly - You can ﬂy from Exeter, Newquay and Land’s End Airports and enjoy breath-taking aerial views of this beautiful cluster of islands from the comfort of your Skybus plane. Flights from Land’s End take just 15 minutes or half an hour from Newquay, and operate all year round from Monday to Saturday. There are scheduled ﬂights from Exeter Airport between March and October six days a week which reach Scilly in under an hour.
Which Island to Explore First?
St Mary - St Mary is the Isles of Scilly largest island (population 1,800) and the gateway to the rest of the islands. The capital of St Mary, Hugh Town, is no bigger than a tiny mainland village, but oh boy does it ooze character and charm. Explore the shops, churches, cafés, galleries, restaurants and pubs as well as the museum. St Mary is also home to three beautiful beaches called Porthcressa, Town Beach and Porthmellon which are all within very close proximity.
Sneak away from the hustle and bustle of Hugh Town and explore the rest of St Mary's coastline. No doubt you'll come across many hidden treasures. The coastline features large stretches of deserted white sandy beaches, dramatic rocky coves, stunning seascapes, amazing archaeological sites, beautiful walks and scenery along miles of coastal and country paths and nature trails.
Bryher is an absolute gem. With only one hotel, the Hell Bay, a campsite, one post office, a pub and a shop, it's easy to be seduced into the unique charm of this beautiful island. A photographers paradise with clear blue waters and white sands on one side, yet rocky coastline and crashing waves on the other. If you're looking to throw on your backpack and head off the beaten track to see what you could find - then this is the island for you. With only 85 people living on the island you are very unlikely to bump into anyone.
The Island of ultimate luxury and sophistication. Tresco is the second largest of the islands and a subtropical gem. If you're looking for a little bit of everything then Tresco is for you - not only is it home to the world famous Tresco Abbey Garden, but also romantic castle runs, secluded sandy beaches and dramatic coastlines. Hire a bike and cycle around the island or borrow a boat or even a kayak to explore the island. If you're looking for a little bit of luxury then head to the New Inn which is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a taste of island life, offering award-winning accommodation and food at the heart of the island. With 16 ensuite rooms are available to book by the night or for longer stays.
St Martins - Crystal clear waters and idyllic beaches, what could sound better than that? The island is just two miles long, yet it has some of the finest beaches in the British Isles, if not the world. Whether searching the rock pools in Lawrence’s Bay, or taking a dip in the water off the sweeping Par Beach or simply chilling on Bread and Cheese Cove, Great Bay or Little Bay, they all jostle for the accolade!
You can also stay on the island at the Four Star Karma St. Martin’s, a stone’s throw from the beach and a world apart from everyday life. From a distance, the resort appears as a hamlet of traditional stone cottages. Step inside and it’s revealed as a luxurious contemporary hotel, complete with ocean views, classic English interior design (with an eclectic twist) and a soulful Karma Spa.
St Agnes - This is an island of wonderful contrasts, from rocky outcrops on its exposed west side to paradise beaches in its more sheltered coves; the tranquillity of the sandbar between St. Agnes and Gugh is particularly magical. Inland are quaint cottages and a patchwork of flower fields, while a lighthouse stands at the island’s highest point. St. Agnes is also a thriving community of working farms and creative, light industrial flair.
The World Pilot Gig Championships: These take place at the start of May every year. Pilot Gigs were traditionally the craft used to guide large ships into harbours around the Cornish coast, nowadays they are built for racing, fiercely competative and featuring teams of all ages from as far away as the US. If you haven't booked accopmmodation yet, you're probably too late!
Walk Scilly: The Isles of Scilly are made for walking. Unspoilt and uncrowded, the archipelago is known for endless white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and exotic flora and fauna. There’s no better way of exploring the islands’amazing scenery, wildlife and cultural heritage than Walk Scilly’s rambles, hikes and strolls, with expert local guides bringing the treasures and hidden gems of each island to life.
Taste of Scilly Festival This has foodies flocking to the Isles of Scilly. The month long celebration returns in September to showcase the very best in local food, drink and produce from across the five inhabited islands. This year’s event will, in particular, showcase the islands’ outstanding seafood offering alongside other island-grown delights. The Taste of Scilly Celebration with a programme packed with events will run from 1st September - 30th September 2019.
Have we persuaded you to visit the islands yet? For more infromation head to Visit Isles of Scilly, the official tourist board for the Isles of Scilly.