Uninhabited Islands

Discover and enjoy any number of uninhabited islands - all to yourself

The Isles of Scilly is the UK’s largest archipelago. With only five inhabited islands, 140 or so more provide a safe haven for wildlife and seabirds. Some are frequented by day boats, others never visited by man at all.

It is thought that the archipelago may once have been joined together, making up a large land-mass. Legend suggests that it was the lost Arthurian land of Lyonesse. The islands remain steeped in myth and many have fascinating names to reflect this: Great Arthur, Hangman’s Island, Old Man, Hunter’s Lump, Seal Rock and Great Cheese Rock.

Some of the uninhabited islands once supported small communities; if you visit Tean or St. Helen's, for example, you will discover the remains of early Christian chapels. The island of Samson, next to Bryher, was home to several farmers and fishermen until the mid-1800s. The haunting remains of granite houses, barns and boatsheds remind us of these more recent times.

Many of Scilly’s uninhabited islands pay tribute to the tragic shipwrecks that have taken place over the centuries. The Western Rocks are a permanent memorial to the countless seamen lost on Bishop Rock – a 50-metre rock column that is totally covered at spring high tides – and on which the UK's most south-westerly lighthouse now stands.

Today you can take a boat trip and witness many of these rugged and wild outcrops from the water, marvelling at the abundant bird life, colonies of seals and stunning seascapes along the way. 

The below map indicates Islands which are closed all year round and some which are restricted at certain times to ensure our breeding birds and other wildlife are given the space that they need.