Start of content [S] | Sitemap [3] | Accessibility [0]

Cornwall Marine Directory

The Isles of Scilly

Printer friendly page

This magical archipelago of hundreds of islands has a charm and presence not found on the mainland and is well worth the extra planning needed to get there, whether you choose to travel under your own steam of via the Scillonian ferry from Penzance or regular mainland air services.

These golden isles, five of which are inhabited, are characterised by delicious honey-coloured beaches and a climate mild enough to sustain plants normally found in subtropical areas. Palms and echiums live alongside an array of colourful succulents and daffodils that add splashes of colour among lush greens.


A sailing trip to the Isles of Scilly can be extremely rewarding. Around 30 miles from Land's End, the islands explode into colour in the spring which comes early this far southwest. The island climate is mild by British standards and there are plenty of beautiful, unspoilt beaches to enjoy in the warm weather. The effect of the sea means the islands rarely have frost or snow, allowing local farmers to grow flowers well ahead of those on mainland Britain.

There are ample opportunities here for sea kayaking, windsurfing and day sailing. Check the marine network database for services on offer. There is also a large fleet of tripper boats offering services to any of the inhabited islands including evening dinner charters.

One of the main industries of the islands is still flower farming - the frost-free climate allows daffodils to be grown here much earlier than on the mainland. Each spring the narcissus fields erupt in flashes of bright colour prior to harvest.

The islands come alive with a riot of activity every year as the first bank holiday in May sees the pilot gig rowing World Championship. This popular sporting event completely takes over St Mary's as these normally quiet waters fill with brightly coloured boats and the pubs fill with even more colourful characters.

An array of rare and important bird species find the island habitat good for breeding which makes the area popular with bird watchers. There is also an abundance of marine life including basking sharks, seals and dolphins. More than half of the islands are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the whole area is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


St Mary's dominates the island group and is home to the capital Hugh Town. The island has several pubs, hotels and a campsite. It is also the centre of commerce and it is the best place to find maintenance services for a boat. Tresco, Bryher, St Agnes and St Martin's surround it. Food supplies for those essential picnics can be sourced around the islands - including a good groceries shop on Tresco.

The tranquil island of St Agnes officially has the most southwesterly community in the British Isles. Today flower farming, fishing and tourism support the island. For the less experienced mariner - and for those who arrive by air or ferry - it is possible to stay in the harbour at St Mary's and use the fleet of local ferry boats that run scheduled services, to help you get yourself around the islands.

A trip to the Turks Head pub on St Agnes may leave you wanting to spend the night at the island's Troytown Campsite, which is a beautiful spot with all the tranquility you could ever hope for and some of the best ocean views of any campsite you're likely to find. The silence here is only broken by the natural sounds of the sea or the wildlife.

Tresco is the second largest of the islands and is home to the lush subtropical Abbey Gardens created by Augustus Smith who took up residence in 1834. Smith was tasked with managing the islands for the Duchy and selected Tresco as home. Shortly after arriving he started building his home on Tresco. For nearly forty years, Smith governed the islands and is fondly remembered in island history. He is even credited with implementing educational facilities on the islands, which took the community here ahead of most of mainland Britain at the time.

Despite being a tiny island, Tresco stages an annual Marathon on the same day as that of The London Marathon. The course, which is seven and a half times the circumference of the island, is the same distance and raises money for charity. In its first seven years it raised £250,000.

Tresco stages an annual Marathon on the same day as that of The London Marathon

Southwest of Tresco is Samson - an island that was finally evacuated in 1855 as the population dwindled. Today passenger launches drop off visitors who wade ashore to spend a few hours exploring the islands and the ruins of the abandoned cottages. Samson is also home to a large protected Tern colony.
Marine Search

 --- °C
--- knots

Field Value
Report Time
Wind Chill13°C
Dew Point---°C
Wind Direction---
Variable Wind---/---
Wind Speed--- knots
Wind Gust--- knots
Visibility--- km
Pressure--- mbar
Hum. Index-2.2°C
Heat Index---°C
Precipitation--- mm
Snow--- mm
Take only photos, leave only footprints or the gentle wake of a boat
Employment around Cornwall