Isles of Scilly breaks and days out have always been the best type of adventure for families. Now with Isles of Scilly Travel you can fly to the islands in just 20 minutes or sail there for the day from as little as £35 return. Naturally we were keen to know more.
Sail away on the Scillonian from just £35 per adult return
Tempting as a 20 minute flight from Land’s End to St. Mary’s Airport sounds, we have to admit to a lasting love of starting our Isles of Scilly breaks with a traditional sail.
The Scillonian ferry has been serving the islands for over 40 years and it’s one of the few UK crossings which can honestly claim to be nearly as exciting as arriving. On a clear day you can see for miles from the deck and if spectacular views of the Cornish coast don’t delight kids, they can always keep their eyes peeled for dolphins. It’s not at all unusual to spot them on the sail to St. Mary’s, but it’s always thrilling. In fact, if you were heading anywhere less fun, the experience of seeing dolphins would definitely be a holiday highlight. Fortunately the beautiful and unspoiled Isles of Scilly are almost as popular with wildlife as they are with families, so even the most charming porpoises have a bit of competition round these parts.
The ferry journey from Penzance to St. Mary’s takes two hours 45 minutes which works for a day out. Leave in the morning and you’ll arrive in perfect time for lunch and an afternoon getting up to, well anything really. Because there really is a lot to get up to here.
Stretch Isle of Scilly breaks with Fly + Sail from only £88 per adult return
However, if you want to make the most of a day out, think about flying to the islands on Skybus and heading home on the Scillonian. It’s the best of all worlds. You’ve longer to play. Kids experience flying and sailing, in a single day. Plus, Isle of Scilly Travel welcomes pets on board both its planes and boats.
Skybus flies from Land’s End to St. Mary’s in just 20 minutes, ideal for a day out. Plus free luggage allowance and friendly cabin staff make this a great choice for families and kids even get to meet the pilot. Turns out journeys that are as good as arrivals is a bit of theme with Isles of Scilly Travel.
A bit of island background for family days out and longer
Summer arrives on the Isles of Scilly before anywhere else in England, and it stays for longer too. The islands sit just 28 miles west of Penzance, five are inhabited but you can explore the uninhabited ones too. Plenty of friendly, local boat companies make it easy to hop around. Or you might be so captivated by one place you’ll just want to stay put: doing your own thing is a signature move in the Isles of Scilly.
- St. Mary’s is the largest island and home to the ferry port and airport. Come looking for shimmery beaches and quaint towns here and you will not be disappointed.
- Next up in size, slightly smaller St. Martin’s is known for its lovely cove-like beaches, local craftworkers and seal snorkelling – more on this later.
- Bryher is defined by the power of the Atlantic, hinted at in place names like Hell Bay. Make for the eastern side of the island to find sandy beaches of the type that get the Isles of Scilly compared to the Caribbean.
- Agnes is the most south westerly island in the UK and the place to take kids who love a bit of coastal clambering and a strong sense of freedom.
- Then there’s Tresco, famous for gorgeous, sub-tropical Tresco Abbey Gardens and some of the Isles’ most spectacular beaches.
What’s fun for families on days out and longer Isles of Scilly breaks
If playing on the beach is your idea of a perfect day out, Isles of Scilly breaks give you plenty of lovely beaches to choose from. Lazing about is always an option, although kids will probably want to try rock pooling, kayaking, dinghy sailing or even snorkelling. You can hire bikes to cycle around the amazingly quiet and safe roads. Horse riding is another fun way to get about. Or if you want to stretch your legs, well-marked walking paths network all the islands. St. Mary’s alone has over 30 miles of them and most are easily managed by kids.
- Kids aged 8 and over can swim with seals at the Scilly Seal Snorkelling Co. on St. Martin’s.
- Loo Beach on St. Mary’s is an Isles of Scilly rockpooling hotspot.
- Walk the coast of St. Agnes, check out historic Bishop Rock Lighthouse, stop for lunch at the Coastguard’s Café and leave time for a low tide swim round the sandbar between St. Agnes and Gugh.
- Climb up Cromwell’s Castle on Tresco for the views. Then head to Tresco Abbey to wander round the world famous gardens.
- Hire bikes and cycle the practically car-free roads on St. Mary’s.
- Book horse riding on St. Mary’s and let kids experience the thrill of trotting across stunning white sand beaches.
- Go sea kayaking on St. Martin’s. It’s the must-do family activity this year and kids get the hang of it in no time.
- Try paddleboarding on crystal clear waters – another St. Martin’s adventure that’s made for families.
- Visit Bryher for pretty beaches on the eastern side of the island and dramatic legends like Hell Bay to the west.
How to plan Isles of Scilly breaks and days out
Where are the Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly lies 28 miles west of Land’s End. Two hours and 45 minutes from Penzance on the Scillonian Ferry or a 30 minute flight from Land’s End on Skybus.
When to go
Summer arrives early on the Isles of Scilly and leaves late, so you’ve plenty of scope to plan a break.
Late spring is the time for wildflowers, wildlife, bird watching and puffin spotting.
School summer holidays are the busiest time but there’s a high chance of sun and swimmable seas as well as plenty of family activities.
The Scillonian sails from March to November, so if you’re thinking of autumn breaks, we can highly recommend days out in September and October.
Scillonian ferry day trip offers 2022
Book the Scillonian for a day out on the Isles of Scilly and take advantage of great 2022 fare offers.
Scillonian ferry day return offers from Penzance to St. Mary’s: adults – £35; child – £15; infant – £10.
Fly + Sail day trip offers 2022
Make even more of your family day out by flying on Skybus to the Isles of Scilly in the morning and sailing home in the evening.
Fly + Sail day return offers: adults – from £88; child -from £67.75; infant from £33.75.
Fly + Sail price includes bus transfer from Penzance to Land’s End for outbound flight.
Skybus flies from Land’s End to St. Mary’s, Scillonian sails from St. Mary’s to Penzance.