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Day trip to the Isles of Scilly

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

The ‘Scillies’ are a Gulf Stream-warmed paradise 28 miles off Land’s End. Awaiting you at these gorgeous, unspoilt islands – some uninhabited, all surprisingly undiscovered – are white-sand beaches, exotic flora and fauna, turquoise seas and mild, sunny days.

For the adventurer, the islands offer a wealth of pristine land- and seascapes to explore, be it cycling country lanes, kayaking, walking, cycling, swimming with seals, or scuba diving in crystal clear waters. The coastline views en route are spectacular.

Remote as they are, the Isles of Scilly have nonetheless been inhabited since the Stone Age, with subsistence living being the way of life for islanders right up to the early 20th century.

The islands’ location in the path of the Gulf Stream ensures a milder, sunnier climate than mainland Britain and a stunning range of local flora. The whole of the Scilly Isles is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Boating tours of the Isles of Scilly

  • St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom (UK)

Fishing boats in a harbour in the isles of scilly

Experience

The St Mary’s Boatmen Association run a selection of themed boating tours – usually 1.5-2 hours long – from St Mary’s Quay, including a ‘seabird special’ and a heritage boat tour. Different tours run on different days, so plan ahead. April to October.

Adult price: 20

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1.5-2 hours

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Tresco Abbey Garden

  • Tresco, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom (UK)

view along a pathwat in the garden

Experience

A world-renowned botanical garden sprawling over 17 acres. It’s home to a diverse range of exotic plants and trees from all over the world, including a famous collection of sub-tropical plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Scilly Isles.

Adult price: 18

Good for age: 18+

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Logistics

Price from: £-
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Skybus offer flights departing from Land’s End, Exeter or Newquay airports to St Mary’s all year round (15-20 minutes). Note, Skybus run a transport pick-up for Land’s End Airport at Penzance Train Station approximately 1 hour before scheduled flight time. Ferries depart from Penzance Monday-Saturday in season, taking about 2.5 hours.

For other islands, including Tresco and Bryher, it’s a further boat ride from St Mary’s Quay. The quay is a 20-minute walk from the airport, or a taxi ride. The islands are small and can be explored on foot, but for St Mary’s it’s better to hire bikes. Hire from St Mary’s Bike Hire.

If you want to stay a night or more, book into Star Castle, an atmospheric and authentic Elizabethan castle, built in 1593. On the highest point of St Mary’s, it has 38 historic rooms and views-a-plenty. Another great option, on the rugged island of Bryher, is the lovely Hell Bay Hotel.

When to do it

The islands, often called the ‘Sunshine Isles’ have the warmest and mildest climate in the UK, with more hours of sunshine that any other region.

It’s especially lovely here from May to September, though April and October can also be very pleasant as spring comes early and winter late here. May and September are best as they are much quieter than July and August.

Winter sees the strong winds and gales roll in from the Atlantic to the unprotected shores.