The Isles of Scilly- close to home but a world apart

The Isles of Scilly lie about 28 miles off Land's End and comprise 5 inhabited islands and numerous smaller islands and rocky outcrops. On a sunny day they resemble the Caribbean, and they have a rugged beauty in less favourable weather. We often spend a week on the Scillies in the spring and never tire of wandering the quiet beaches and coastal paths, just watching the water and the boats travelling to and fro.

The Scillonian passenger ferry travels between Penzance and St Mary's harbour on most days between late March and late November. The journey takes 2 hours and 40 minutes each way. There are views of the Cornish coast for about 45 minutes and of the Islands for about 1 hour but the trip can feel quite slow and we wouldn't really recommend a day trip taking the Scillonian both ways. (This costs £39.50 for an adult day trip)

It is possible to do a Fly and Sail day trip which includes a bus transfer from Penzance to Land's End airport, a flight to St Mary's which takes 15 minutes and then a return trip by Scillonian. This gives enough time to see St Mary's well or to visit one of the other islands. (This costs £78)

Return flights to and from Land's End airport gives the longest time on the Islands and the 2017 cost for this is £105.



St Mary's Harbour in Hughtown is where the Scillonian docks and is the busiest area on St Mary's. There are various hotels and cafes here, and it is also possible to hire bikes and golf carts nearby which are the best option for seeing the whole of St Mary's independently.

Boats to Tresco, Bryher, St Agnes and St Martin's leave from here, as well as trips to view wildlife.

For those with limited time and energy there is a nice walk around the garrison which provides good views to the other islands. 

  View from St Mary's towards Tresco and the lighthouse on Round Island

The Abbey Gardens on Tresco contains plants from across the world, including many tender and exotic species.

It is a must visit for keen gardeners and is also home to red squirrels, an exotic form of pheasant and a collection of figureheads.


The exotic looking Golden Pheasants live on Tresco and are mainly seen in and around the Abbey Gardens.

The Scillies as a whole have a greater number of birds than are seen on the mainland with once common garden birds such as thrushes being a common sight in cafe gardens.

Puffins can be viewed during the summer months on wildlife viewing trips.

Many other migratory birds make the islands a popular bird watching destination.

  View from Tresco towards St Martin's
  Path to the beach on Tresco
  Round Island Lighthouse
  With numerous rocks and sand banks surrounding the islands they have seen many ship wrecks over the years and the more exposed areas of coast line can be wild in stronger winds.

Taken about 15 minutes after the previous photo and a short distance around the corner, this view of the calmer water between the islands is very different.

Cromwell's castle in the foreground dates from about 1540.

  St Agnes is the most remote of the inhabited islands but is still only about a 20 minute boat trip from St Mary's.

View from St Martin's towards Tresco.

St Martin's is one of the less developed islands and has possibly some of the best beaches as well as a small vineyard, a pub and a bakery.