On St. Mary’s, you’ll be as close as the Isles of Scilly gets to being busy. Hugh Town is the main centre for all the local services and it’s the island where you’ll arrive. This is where you’ll find most of the shops, the bank, and the boats on to other islands. With beaches, shopping, countryside paths and coastal trials- there’s always something new to try. But then, why limit yourself to just the one island? St. Mary’s quay is the hub for Scilly’s inter-island boats, so it’s easy to sample another island for a day, or even a couple of hours. Simply stroll down the quayside, look for the chalk boards, and choose your adventure.
Tresco is Scilly’s privately-owned island, and that sense of exclusivity extends to the sophisticated cafes, art gallery and spa. But for many visitors, Tresco is best defined by the Abbey Garden: its world-renowned, 19th century garden and home to some 20,000 sub-tropical plants. Like anywhere on the Isles of Scilly, though, Tresco also has its share of beaches, panoramas and secluded spots. Pentle Bay is especially peaceful, the rugged north-east coast boasts historic forts named for both sides of the English Civil War, and the view from New Grimsby as the setting sun dips behind Bryher has inspired any number of paintings.
The only difficult thing about a stay on St. Martin’s is deciding which beach you’ll visit today. All around the island, you’ll find white, sandy coves that slope gently into crystal-clear water. It’s a tantalising choice. But world-class beaches are by no means the only reason to visit this laid back, welcoming island. You’ll also find great local food, artisan bread, the islands’ famous flower farm and its own winery -and, for a truly once-in-a lifetime memory, the chance to go snorkelling surrounded by playful Atlantic Grey seals.
Bryher has a bit of everything: a rugged, Atlantic side with dramatic coastline and, occasionally, waves to match. But its sheltered, eastern shores, looking across to Tresco, are sandy and calm. On some tides, you can even make the crossing on foot. You’ll also find sweeping views, a wide choice of accommodation, a well-known artist’s studio, some of the islands’ most sought-after eating experiences… and, who knows, perhaps some inspiration.
St. Agnes is the very tip of the British Isles. To the south west, there’s nothing but Bishop Rock Lighthouse, three thousand miles of ocean and, beyond that, North America. As you’d expect, it’s unspoiled, and a little untamed- with mysterious, Bronze Age archaeology, and rare bird species brought in on the Atlantic currents. It’s also home to a community of 72 people, the famous Turk’s Head pub, and creamy Troytown Farm ice cream- made by just nine cows. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place. At low tide, you can walk across the sandbar to the mysterious, neighbouring island of Gugh. It’s only half mile long- and home to just three hardy locals- but people have lived here for thousands of years.