The information on each island below is taken from the Visit Scilly website. For further information on what to see and do, places to stay, eat and getting around the islands, please click the visit scilly button. You will directed to the Isles of Scilly official tourist board guide website.
The island of ultimate luxury, sophistication and the famous Abbey Garden
Tresco is the second largest of the islands and a subtropical gem. It is the only one of the islands to be privately-owned; it is currently cared for by Lucy and Robert Dorrien-Smith.
This island has a little bit of everything – from dramatic rocky outcrops, bronze age burial sites and romantic castle ruins, to secluded sandy beaches and, of course, the world famous Tresco Abbey Garden which was established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith. This horticultural paradise hosts a spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world – many of which cannot be grown anywhere else in Britain. The Valhalla collection within the Garden is equally impressive with its colourful display of figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks.
The rugged north of the island is a great place to walk and explore, while in the centre of the island, there are bird hides to seek out around Tresco’s freshwater pools. You can hire bikes to travel around, or if you are feeling active, borrow a boat, windsurf or kayak from Tresco Sailing Club. The island is also excellent for beachcombing or simply relaxing on a beach - there’s no finer spot to chill than the sugar-fine white sand of Pentle and Appletree Bays.
Whatever you choose to do on Tresco, you’ll notice that it oozes sophistication at every level - from its top-notch accommodation, art gallery and fabulous deli to the amazing eateries serving fine local produce and the award-winning leisure spa, the Flying Boat Club.
A voyage of discovery to the best beaches in the world
Crystal clear waters, idyllic beaches and a prevailing sense of calm make St. Martin's a delight. With its iconic red and white Daymark, erected in 1683 by Thomas Ekins, it is the first island you spot as you cross from the mainland.
The island is just two miles long, yet it has some of the finest beaches in the British Isles, if not the world. Whether searching the rock pools in Lawrence’s Bay, or taking a dip in the water off the sweeping Par Beach or simply chilling on Bread and Cheese Cove, Great Bay or Little Bay, they all jostle for the accolade!
Additionally, the spectacular flowers, plant life, rare birds and sensational sea views along the heathery cliff path walks all add to the thrill of St. Martin’s unmistakable beauty. Exploring the islets of Nornour, Ganilly and Menawethan from St. Martin’s also allows you to spot colonies of seals not so far off shore.
Behind these beautiful scenes, there lies an enterprising and diverse community. The 120 or so inhabitants are industrious folk – there’s a flower farm and vineyard – both open to visitors, a fabulous dive school offering underwater adventures and snorkelling with seals, a locally-inspired silver jewellery designer, a flourishing bakery full of artisan breads and traditional, freshly-made savouries and a wonderful gallery showcasing local artists.
At St. Martin's store, off licence and post office, visitors can purchase everything they need for a great holiday - it can even be dlivered in advance to accommodation across the island. There are also a number of eateries offering sumptuous lunches, light snacks and cream teas.
A rugged yet deeply beautiful island of vibrant contrasts
Pounded by Atlantic waves on one side, yet blessed with calm sandy beaches on the other, Bryher is an island of dramatic contrast - the perfect place to enjoy a taste of untamed Scilly. Around 80 people are lucky enough to call it home.
Bryher's fame extends far beyond Scilly's shores: the luxurious Hell Bay hotel has won many an award, while Jamie Oliver has hailed the diminutive Fraggle Rock Bar as one of Britain's best "boozers". The little island is also the setting of the film, "When the Whales Came", based on Michael Morpurgo's novel inspired by the island. Samson Hill on the southern end of the island was the site of the birdman's cottage.
Whether you're exploring rocky coves, lazing on white sandy beaches or hiking up one of its small granite hills for some great views, Bryher serves up a wonderful sense of freedom and purity. You can admire the granite stacks on Shipman Head - and get up close at low tide if you're happy to scramble the rocks; you can watch the Atlantic rollers thunder into Hell Bay (spectacular in winter!), and you can enjoy the calm and tranquillity of Rushy Bay overlooking Samson.
The entire island is criss-crossed by tracks and dotted with stalls selling fresh produce including farm eggs, local vegetables, freshly-landed seafood and mouth-watering island fudge.
The Bryher Shop is an excellent spot to purchase tasty treats such a tatty cake and freshly made bread as well as everything they need for a great holiday which, on request, can even be delivered in advance to your accommodation.
Bennett's Boatyard and Bryher Boatyard offer boats and kayaks for hire, and you can get supplies from the island chandlery.
There are also a number of eateries, including the Hell Bay Hotel and Fraggle Rock offering sumptuous lunches and suppers, light snacks and cream teas.
England’s final frontier: totally untamed and thoroughly unspoilt
On the most south-westerly edge of the Isles of Scilly, St. Agnes is totally unspoilt and astonishingly peaceful. It measures just a mile or so across, and its closest neighbour is Gugh, to which it is joined by a sand bar at low tide.
This is an island of wonderful contrasts, from rocky outcrops on its exposed west side to paradise beaches in its more sheltered coves; the tranquillity of the sandbar between St. Agnes and Gugh is particularly magical. Inland are quaint cottages and a patchwork of flower fields, while a lighthouse stands at the island’s highest point.
St. Agnes is also a thriving community of working farms and creative, light industrial flair.
St. Agnes urges your senses to seek adventure. Head off in search of the circular maze of rounded beach stones; marvel at the stone stacks and cairns that dot Wingletang Down, or comb the beaches for shipwrecked treasures at Beady Pool. Periglis Beach is a fine spot for a picnic as well as a shell collectors’ paradise. It also offers stunning views across to the bird sanctuary that is Annet, the Western Rocks and out to Bishop Rock. And then there’s the Old Man of Gugh, who stands 3 metres tall and is believed to be associated with Bronze Age rituals.
Of course, there is always the option to simply go for a dip, or sit and watch the world go by whilst sampling the local produce at the restaurants and cafés, or supping a beer at the Turk’s Head pub.
Do as much or as little as you like on the beautiful island of St Mary’s
St. Mary’s is the Isles of Scilly’s largest island (population 1,800) and the gateway to the rest of the islands. Covering an area less than 2.5 square miles, it’s still not exactly bustling but with its air and sea links, it’s more than likely to be your first port of call when you visit.
Hugh Town is the central hub with its cluster of shops, banks, churches, post office, cafés, galleries, restaurants and pubs as well as the wonderful museum. It has three lovely beaches in very close proximity – Porthcressa with a children’s play area close by; Town Beach, a perfect spot to watch the comings and goings on the Quay; and Porthmellon which also hosts the Sailing Centre.
The Quay is where the Scillonian III passenger ferry docks every day. It’s also where you'll find yourself travelling from if you’re staying on any of the “off islands” or if you’re taking any tripper boats for a day out from St. Mary’s.
Old Town is the other “major” settlement on St. Mary’s, closer to the airport and with its own beautiful beach, nature reserve, Old Town Church where Sir Harold Wilson is buried, children’s soft play zone, shop, pub and cafés.
Up country, away from the relative hustle and bustle, St. Mary’s is an easy going safe haven of hidden treasures. The coastline features large stretches of deserted white sandy beaches, dramatic rocky coves, stunning seascapes, amazing archaeological sites, beautiful walks and scenery along miles of coastal and country paths and nature trails.
Discover and enjoy any number of uninhabited islands - all to yourself
The Isles of Scilly is the UK’s largest archipelago. With only five inhabited islands, 140 or so more provide a safe haven for wildlife and seabirds. Some are frequented by day boats, others never visited by man at all.
It is thought that the archipelago may once have been joined together, making up a large land-mass. Legend suggests that it was the lost Arthurian land of Lyonesse. The islands remain steeped in myth and many have fascinating names to reflect this: Great Arthur, Hangman’s Island, Old Man, Hunter’s Lump, Seal Rock and Great Cheese Rock.
Some of the uninhabited islands once supported small communities; if you visit Tean or St. Helen's, for example, you will discover the remains of early Christian chapels. The island of Samson, next to Bryher, was home to several farmers and fishermen until the mid-1800s. The haunting remains of granite houses, barns and boatsheds remind us of these more recent times.
Many of Scilly’s uninhabited islands pay tribute to the tragic shipwrecks that have taken place over the centuries. The Western Rocks are a permanent memorial to the countless seamen lost on Bishop Rock – a 50-metre rock column that is totally covered at spring high tides – and on which the UK's most south-westerly lighthouse now stands.
Today you can take a boat trip and witness many of these rugged and wild outcrops from the water, marvelling at the abundant bird life, colonies of seals and stunning seascapes along the way.