Visiting St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly; What to See & Do
The Isles of Scilly is such a unique place. The first time I heard of them, was when a resident of the Islands referred to herself as being on the ‘main land’ whilst in Cornwall, ‘main land to what?’ I wondered and then it all became clear. Many stunning images of fine white sand and tropical plants later, I have finally touch down on my first of the Islands of the Isles of Scilly. Merely 28 miles off of the coast of Cornwall, this archipelago of Islands is home to a small quantity of lucky residents and a place to holiday for many others. There’s two ways to reach The Isles of Scilly, one is by plane from Exeter or Cornwall and the other is by boat, from Penzance. We were heading out on the latter and after an early start, set sail to see what these tropical lands are all about.
There’s five inhabited islands that make up Isles of Scilly and the main island where you arrive to is St Mary’s. We were travelling as a day trip, to see if it’s worth while to spend a few hours over there as a break in your Cornwall itinerary. As we were only there for the day, we opted to remain on St Mary’s however there’s an abundance of options to visit numerous islands on your visit with all the interconnecting ferries. The boat from Penzance to St Mary’s takes roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes, our day trip was part of their long day hours, which saw us leave at 6:30am for a 9:15am arrival. The boat, The Scillonian lll, is a topic of many discussions amongst travellers. It’s renown for being particularly challenging to those who suffer with sea sickness. The passage isn’t particularly rough, it’s said that it’s in the shallow waters that cause the boat to sway in a certain way. Personally, I was absolutely fine on both journeys but some were not, so if you’re particularly concerned then you can use the fly option on your day trip!
We arrived into St Mary’s at 9:15am and with a very smooth disembark, we were quickly on our way to explore. We started by heading up to Garrison Walls which is steeped in history. The old defence walls and artillery buildings are fantastic for anyone with particular interest in the history. The views from here are also stunning, with panoramic views allowing you to see the tips of other islands. You can follow the coast path all around this headland, as we did, and take in the views from all angles.
After wandering our way around the headland, we ended up back in Hugh Town, the main cluster of shops and amenities. This part of the island is very narrow so you have beaches on both sides. From the town, we wandered the road up to the Old Town.
When reaching the Old Town, we found Old Town Bay. This beautiful quaint bay was perfectly still, offering that signature Scilly blue. A great spot to swim or crab, we enjoyed this spot for a while, watching out for curious wildlife.
Working up quite to appetite, as we were yet to eat due to our early start, we headed for lunch next. As the island is so accessible on foot, we could quickly and simply head from one side to the other. To navigate you through, there’s a beautiful nature trail that cuts across the island and leads you through the shrubbery and woodland. Perfect for on foot and by bike, as there’s bicycle rentals available during your visit.
For lunch we headed to the lovely Juliets Garden. A very popular spot on the island, as it offers amazing views across the bay and a very tranquil spot to take in the surroundings. I’d recommend booking or arriving early, we arrived at 12:30pm with no issues, but by 1pm it was almost full. The menu is varied and great for all the family, with light lunches, warm meals, local seafood and sweet courses to enjoy.
From Juliets Garden, and now on this side of the island, we followed the coast path back to Hugh Town. The path, although not too long, takes you through several beautiful beaches.
Back in Hugh Town, we sat by the harbour and watched the boats come in and bob around. The water was clear and the sunshine was making an appearance to warm up our cheeks. We then headed into a cute little coffee shop for some tea and cake. There’s cafes, gift shops and pubs clustered around this area so plenty to do whilst you wait for your check in time back on the boat.
3:30pm came around and we queued up ready to get back on the boat. We had just over six hours of exploring the island. This seemed plenty for us; we saw most of the island, several stunning beaches, took in the history and relaxed with a delicious lunch. There’s many sports and activities you can partake in whilst here, such as boating to other islands, wildlife safaris, renting buggys to get around, kayaks, swimming and much more.
I’m thrilled to have finally stepped foot on the Isles of Scilly and even in slightly overcast weather, it was looking mighty beautiful. You can book a day trip here, where prices for the boat start from just £35.
trip and lunch was gifted | ad