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The Isles of Scilly: Paradise in the UK!

The Scilly Isles are an archipelago of idyllic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 28 miles from Land’s End. Comprising of five inhabited islands – St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, St Agnes and Bryher – and around 140 smaller, rocky ‘islands’, the Scilly Isles are often referred to as the ‘Caribbean of the UK’ and it’s easy to see why! With white, sandy secluded beaches, turquoise waters, tropical gardens and a warm climate, the Scilly Isles are an unspoilt, magical touch of paradise.

Porthcressa Beach, St Mary’s

Whilst we had chosen to sail our own yacht down here (check out our previous post here), the islands are easily reached by sea or air from Cornwall. In fact it is possible to do a day trip to St Mary’s from Penzance onboard the Scillonian III or fly on the SkyBus from Land’s End, check out Isles of Scilly Travel for further details.

Scillonian III arriving into St Mary’s

Mooring Buoys and Facilities in St Mary’s

We had taken a mooring buoy in St Mary’s Pool in the harbour, off of Hugh Town, at a cost of £21 a night (July 2022). This is often the first port of call for visiting yachtsmen although the mooring field here can endure a swell when the wind is from the west or north west.The buoys are tightly packed in and they do raft on them if need be, so do take this into consideration when picking your buoy. Ideally try and choose one with similar style boats around you so that you all swing at the same time. We did witness one yacht and one small motorboat gently knock each other at the turn of the tide! The Harbour Master would collect the fee in the morning, usually knocking at around 8.30am and they also take your rubbish away for you.

When going ashore there is a fairly sizeable floating pontoon next to the main quay where you can leave your dinghy but do be aware that the inner basin does dry at low water springs. On the quayside you will find the facilities which are open 24 hours a day. A shower costs £1 for approximately 7 minutes and, whilst the water was nice and hot, it did have an unfortunate smell 🥴

Dinghy Park, St Mary’s Harbour

Water can be obtained from the berth alongside the quay wall. This area does dry out so bear that in mind if taking your boat here. Alternatively just ‘jerry can it’ like we did! You will need £1 coins for the water. We only filled Jerry cans but a yacht filling up in front of us used £3 to fill their 300 litre tank and there was still enough left over to fill our two 20 litre cans. So if you just want a bit of water pop along after someone has just filled up and you can usually get it for free!

There is a fuel dock on the quayside or there is a small, rather quaint, petrol station at Porthcressa that also sells red diesel! For those anchoring in nearby Porthcressa you will also find facilities here including coin operated showers at £2 each and a service-wash only launderette.

Petrol Station at Porthcressa

The town of St Hugh (the ‘capital’ of the Isles of Scilly’) has a number of small, independent shops including IOS Clothing that was created on the islands, and their well recognised logo that features on a range of tees, hoodies, bags and bottles. There is also a handy hardware store, newsagents and a Co-op, which surprisingly was priced pretty much the same as the mainland, along with a number of boutique shops selling ‘Scilly’ gifts and handmade products.

Exploring St Mary’s

St Mary’s is the largest of the Scilly Isles, approximately 2½ miles by 1¾ miles, and has around 30 miles of coastal and inland tracks. One of the best known is the Garrison Walls walk, one of the most impressive coastal defence systems in England, which you’ll find on the headland on the west side of St Mary’s. It is still possible to walk much of the length of the Garrison Walls and soak up the breathtaking views it offers. Here you will also find Star Castle, so called due to its eight-pointed star shape. Built in 1593 as a fortress, it is now a 4* hotel.

Following on from the Garrison Walls walk you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Porthcressa beach, a stunning stretch of beach on the southern side of Hugh Town. Surrounded by deep purple agapanthus flowers, which flower around July, this beach is well sheltered and offers shallow waters, perfect for a dip – just watch out for jellyfish!

Compass Jellyfish in the sea, Isles of Scilly

Heading up from the beach follow the track out to Peninnis Head, the southernmost point of St Mary’s, and a prominent headland of granite cliffs and tors. Wild and rugged it is a very different landscape to the sandy beach at Porthcressa!

Peninnis Headland and Lighthouse, St Mary’s

We also explored up to St Mary’s Airport before tracking further up north to Watermill Cove, an anchorage with a small, sandy beach, before crossing back over the island, passing the Telegraph Tower and down to Porthloo beach, along to Porthmellon beach and back to the town beach of Hugh Town.

Apart from the very northern end of St Mary’s we pretty much saw most of the main island, and all on foot. However you can also hire bikes from St Mary’s Bike Hire or for something a little different hire a 2, 4 or 6 seater electric cart (golf buggies) from Scilly Carts! But now we wanted to see some of the other isles! Check out our next post where we head over the water to explore Tresco and Samson

VIDEO: Exploring St Mary’s

See for yourself just how beautiful the Isles of Scilly really are!…. And if you like our short video please give it a thumbs up, it really helps our growing channel🙏🏻

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