Scilly: the perfect pre-schoolers' paradise

Do you have toddlers or young children at home and need a holiday but want to keep it simple and stress-free?

Then look no further than the Isles of Scilly, a fantastic natural playground for pre-schoolers and young children just off the coast of Cornwall that will ensure you, too, get the holiday you deserve. 

The best thing about Scilly with kids, speaking as someone who first came to the islands nearly 10 years ago with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, is the freedom that the children enjoy because the islands are so safe and spacious. That sense of children’s independence transcends into a truly chilled experienced for mums and dads, too.

So here are 10 top tips on how to enjoy Scilly with small children in tow.

  1. Travel made easy. A staycation in the UK means no hideous airport queues, no passports and no lengthy flights. Getting to paradise is very simple… either a short hop from Land’s End, Newquay or Exeter in a tiny aircraft, or a relaxing boat trip on the Scillonian III passenger ferry. Either way, the adventure will thrill the children, taking in the coastlines of Cornwall and watching for wildlife.

  2. Kit and caboodle all sorted. We know there’s lots of extra kit to cart around when taking toddlers away. And Isles of Scilly Travel are happy to assist with pushchairs and car seats, even though your luggage allowance is limited on the aircraft. If you’ve got loads, though, then the passenger ferry might be your best bet… there’s even a lift on board if your little angel is having a snooze and needs not to be disturbed.

  3. Off-islands are car free. Okay, so there’s the odd tractor and Landy to take care of your luggage, but other than that, there are no proper tarmac roads to talk of either. Leaving you and your children to run free and explore without any traffic worries. Concrete paths make it easy for pushchairs, but an off-roader or a back-carrier is recommended to venture onto the coastal paths. 

  4. New day? New island. One of Scilly’s greatest pleasures is to island hop. Every day you can take your children on a short “tripper” boat to a new island for new adventures and experiences. The boatmen are fantastic with little children and will help you on and off. The boats are colourful, the waters clear, and there’s always the opportunity to spot seals, birdlife and even dolphins on route!

  5. Splash ‘n’ paddle on deserted beaches. Scilly is about life’s simple pleasures – there’s a gently sloping white sand beach with crystal blue waters at nearly every turn, so they’re never too far from a safe paddling opportunity whilst you simply kick back and relax. Or collect some pretty shells to create mermaid masterpieces on the sand. 

  6. Hire bikes and buggies. On St Mary’s and Tresco, a great way to get around is on bikes which you can hire on island. And for little children, there are tagalongs and trailers, too. Once out of Hugh Town, you’ll find the roads on St Mary’s nice and quiet, and easy to navigate. 

  7. Back to nature, the fun way. Being on the Isles of Scilly means being at one with nature. Create your own fun with your children, Robinson Crusoe style. Explore uninhabited islands and secret coves, search rock pools for signs of life, stack some stones, and imagine a simple life lived by the sea.

  8. Garrison Guns and Cromwell’s Castle. Bring English history to life on Scilly. Climb the cannons along the Garrison Walls on St. Mary’s, and explore the “rooms” at Harry’s Walls which date back to late Tudor times. Head for the ancient carns and castles on Tresco and imagine the tussles that went on between King Charles and Cromwell back in time. 

  9. Fantastic food options. You’ll be spoilt for choice for food on Scilly. Our cafes and restaurants are incredibly child-friendly, all offering simple, good value children’s menus. And there are many places where you can treat them to scrummy Scilly-made ice-creams and chocolate treats! 

  10. Don’t worry if it rains. There’s an under 8’s soft play zone, a couple of indoor pools, a great museum (with a wonderful doll’s display), Phoenix craft studio with classes, and children’s library facilities. Additionally, there are community halls and playgrounds across all the inhabited islands that are always open and accessible to all, complete with games and toys.