One of my favourite things in life is going somewhere that I‘ve never been to before, that I don’t know much about and which turns out to be surprisingly marvellous. The Isles of Scilly are just such a place.
Isles of Scilly
Although the Isles of Scilly lie around 28 miles to the west of Cornwall, in South West England, they enjoy a mild climate and have an almost Mediterranean feel to them. I stayed on St. Mary’s, the largest of the islands (at around 2.5 square miles in area), for three nights during the May half term break with my husband and our 13 year-old son. The weather was perfect: blue skies and sunshine without being too hot. Our hotel was excellent (you can read my review of the Star Castle Hotel here). The food wherever we ate was great, the people that we met were friendly, and it was a joy to explore the different islands by boat, by bike and on foot (you can read about what we did on our trip in my post Exploring the Isles of Scilly).
A trip to Scilly isn’t about theme parks or or water parks or interactive exhibitions. There are no kids clubs or trampoline parks or pleasure piers, but the archipelago is ideal for a tranquil family holiday. In fact, the main attraction of the 140 or so Isles of Scilly are the beautiful islands themselves, the plants and animals which inhabit them and the sea which surrounds them. Only five of the islands are inhabited, and there’s not so much as a cinema in the way of 21st century entertainment on offer (as my son remarked, several times). But the views which you see as you travel around the islands are just gorgeous. It actually took us ages to get anywhere on the islands as I had to keep stopping to take photos: white sandy beaches lapped by turquoise waters, craggy coastline accessible only to puffins and other birds, tropical plants and endangered red squirrels, all of these had to be gazed at and recorded.
Our trip wasn’t really long enough – we only managed to visit three of the islands, and there were many other things which I’d like to see and do in the archipelago. Here’s my selection of the best things to do in the Isles of Scilly – with or without kids.
The best way to see the islands is by boat. We popped over to Tresco and St. Agnes on our trip – I’d love to visit some of the other islands too.
The islands are home to some amazing flora and fauna, some of it unique to the area. Interestingly, there are no foxes, stoats, weasels or grey squirrels on the Isles of Scilly. We saw seals, puffins and red squirrels on our trip, but sadly no dolphins or porpoises.
Swim with seals
If you’re at least eight years-old, Scilly Seal Snorkelling will take you snorkelling with these friendly creatures in their natural environment. How great does that sound?
We hired bikes on Tresco and on St. Mary’s, and I found cycling to be a great way to explore. There’s very little traffic and very few hills, so it’s an ideal place for kids and inexperienced cyclists to pedal.
The turquoise waters around the islands are clean, clear and the warmest in the UK, and so ideal for swimming, kayaking, sailing, snorkelling and other water sports.
If you’re feeling adventurous and you’re at least nine years-old, you can explore the Scilly coastline with Kernow Coasteering. They provide the equipment that you need to swim, scramble, climb and jump along the coast.
With long sandy beaches and a network of bridleways, the Scilly Isles must be a marvellous place for horse riding.
You don’t need a car if you’re visiting the islands, but you can hire a golf cart from The Scilly Cart Co to explore the nine miles of road on St. Mary’s. My son was keen to drive one of these – but you do actually need a driving licence in order to hire one!
Find out more
Go to the Isles of Scilly official website to find out more about the islands.
Over to you
Have you been to the Isles of Scilly? Would you like to go there? Is there anything that you’d like to know about our trip?
Disclosure: I’m working with Visit England and BritMums promoting the Oh My Great Britain campaign, celebrating all of the wonderful experiences which families can have in the UK. Share your experiences using the #OMGBFamily tag and @BritMums. Visit www.Homeofamazing.com and follow Visit England on @VisitEngland to discover family adventures.