Our guide to a day trip on the islands
Ever wondered what the Isles of Scilly are like? Want to enjoy a truly different day out and one you'll remember forever? Then why not consider a day trip to the islands?
A day out to the Isles of Scilly from Cornwall is the perfect way to get a flavour of island life, and discover the exceptional beauty of this tiny archipelago 28 miles off the Cornish coast. You'll be amazed at just how different the islands are compared to Cornwall and, indeed, everywhere else in England!
Come on over and see what island dreams are made of.
There are five inhabited islands - the main one is St. Mary's where you'll arrive - and four "off islands" - Tresco, St. Martin's, Bryher and St. Agnes. And then there's a whole host of uninhabited islands, islets and rocks.
Our recommendations here are based on what you can achieve in a day (or four hours if you come by boat); if you want to stay longer, take a tour around our website and be inspired by what to do and where to stay.
Take a stroll through Hugh Town soak up the harbour views before heading for the stunning Porthcressa Beach where you'll find the Tourist Information Centre and a beautiful promenade. From there you can head up to the Edwardian Buzza Tower and 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 for 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.
There are a number of galleries too, within easy walking distance of the quay and Hugh Town - including Phoenix Craft Studios at Porthmellon; Porthloo Studios and Glandore Gallery. Discover how our island artists are inspired by the stunning landscapes and wildlife around them!
Alternatively, if want to explore further afield, you can hire a bike or an electric golf buggy and head off. There’ll be plenty of time to check out the Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements at Halangy Village and Bant’s Carn, time to savour some Bavarian delights at the Kaffeehaus, and time to discover the sublime beauty and peacefulness of Scilly’s stunning beaches. There are daily island mini-bus tours of St. Mary's (they leave every day at 10.15am and 1.30pm from Hugh Town) and a regular community bus service. Taxi operators will also be very willing to provide a tour of St Mary’s (but you will need to contact them in advance).
If wildlife and waterborne adventure is more your thing, why not book a Sea Safari during the afternoon? Scilly is brimming with coastal sea birds and seals - all of which who can experience very close up on a one or two-hour trip. Or if you fancy being more active, you could enjoy a spectacular sea swim, kayak or sail, a touch of coasteering or you could go for a horse ride on the beach!
If you opt to visit Tresco, it is easy to take in the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden on a day trip. You can buy a discounted combined ticket on the Scillonian III or on the quay at St. Mary's that will enable you to take a St Mary's Boatmen's Association boat from St Mary's Quay across to Tresco as well as entry to these world-renowned gardens. These are available from the St. Mary's Boatmen's Association and are valid for those who are travelling on a day trip on the Scillonian III.
Tresco Abbey Garden is a stunning attraction, with more than 20,000 sub-tropical plants to admire (most don't survive anywhere else in the UK and only do so here on Scilly due to our special micro-climate). There is also a magnificent Valhalla Collection of figureheads collected from shipwrecks around the islands.
St. Martin's, St. Agnes and Bryher
If you really fancy delving further into remote island living, then it's possible to spend a day (or half a day) on an off island - St. Agnes, Bryher or St. Martin's. Each of these islands has between 85 and 110 residents living there, no "roads" to speak of and very few vehicles, less the odd tractor or quad bike.
Walk and admire the remoteness of where you are, pop into the islands' shop (there's one on each of them) or head to one of the islands' cafes, or pubs (again one on each!). You'll meet residents who farm the land or who create magical pieces of jewellery, art and delicious local produce. Talk to them, taste and touch their crafts, and learn what makes them tick! If you time your visit right and have a full day on the islands, you may also be able to fit in a spot of snorkelling with seals (book in advance); or off-island stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
Travelling to Scilly for the day
You can experience a day on Scilly by air from Lands End or by sea on the Scillonian III passenger ferry which leaves Penzance early morning (usually 9.15am) every day arriving in Scilly at 12 noon.
If you come on the Scillonian III, you'll enjoy a wonderful 2 hour, 45 minute cruise to St Mary’s (the biggest of the Isles of Scilly), soaking up a stunning seaside view of Cornwall’s quaint villages, the world-renowned open air Minack Theatre and the Land’s End peninsula on the way. Quite often, the ship is joined and followed by pods of dolphins, a raft of seabirds and occasionally even basking sharks.
Making a day trip by air from Lands End or Newquay will not only give you more time to enjoy and explore the islands, but you'll also be able to appreciate the full beauty and proximity of islands from the air.
Day trip fares start from £39.50. Book now by calling Isles of Scilly Travel on 01736 334220 or visit islesofscilly-travel.co.uk