The Isles of Scilly are often referred to as ‘England’s Caribbean’ due to the blue water and white beaches! I’ll be telling you all about my stay on St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly and why you should add it to your bucket list! The air is so fresh, the seafood is divine, the sea is beautiful, read on for more reasons to visit! I’ll also be telling you where to stay, in a dog friendly hotel, perfect for UK residents who don’t want to leave their pups at home.
Then I’ll also tell you about a few lovely day trips to take from St Martin’s Island. After your trip to Scilly, why not add Dorset to your itinerary. Dorset is one of my favourite places in the UK and perfect for a little getaway and to break up your trip home if you are going in that direction, or like me back to London!
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Where are the Isles of Scilly?
The Isles of Scilly are located just off the coast of the most southwesterly part of the UK! They are a tiny group of islands just out at sea off the coast of Cornwall. Most people I had told I was going here hadn’t even heard of them! And still most people read Sicily when they first see the name on Instagram. However, those that do know about it, RAVE about it! We met a few families here that had been going for 40 years and everyone says that once you go there you will keep coming back.
How to get to St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly?
There are three different options! It really depends on your budget and how long you want to stay. Day trips to the Scilly Isles are much cheaper, but it really depends if you want time to explore some of the other islands too.
Scillonian Ferry – 2hrs 45mins
From Cornwall, the ferry over to St Martin’s leaves from Penzance. Be sure to factor in the boat times, as some of them only leave at 9am, so you may have to spend the night somewhere before to be able to get there early enough for this ferry. This main ferry takes you from Penzance to St Mary’s, the largest of the Scilly Isles. At St Mary’s there is a long port, where you will see signs for smaller boats to the smaller islands. These boats seemed to take cash, so come prepared. They are also not very accessible so I’m not sure how it works if someone needs a wheelchair. We had to walk down a set of steps and hop onto the boat, with any luggage being popped onto the front of the little boat.
Adult Day Trip return £48
Adult Standard Single £59.50
By Air – 20/30mins
The Skybus takes you from Land’s End, Newquay or Exeter airport to the Isles of Scilly. The longest journey is 60 minutes from Exteter airport. As of August 2020 the Skybus cost was just over £90 from Land’s End and £179 from Exeter for a standard single. Day trips are definitely much cheaper but you are really limited to how much you can see in the amount of time you have. A day trip return from Land’s End is £125 for an adult.
Outward journey by Air/ Return by Boat
The outward journey will be from Land’s End by air and the ferry on the return journey will bring you back to Penzance. This is a great option if you want to get as much time as possible on the Isles of Scilly, but to keep costs a bit lower than getting the plane both ways.
Adult Day Trip £92.50
How to get from London to St Martin’s Isles of Scilly?
From London to Penzance it takes around 6 hours. We decided to stay the night in the only place we could find on the way, The Ivy House St Austell in Cornwall. From here, it was around an hour to get to Penzance harbour in the morning to catch the ferry. If you are visiting London then don’t miss these instagrammable London locations and amazing street art!
How much is does it cost to get to St Martin’s Isles of Scilly?
Altogether we paid around £250 for both of us to get to St Martin’s and back. Once you get there be sure to stay for a couple of days as it isn’t cheap. I had a few messages on my Instagram saying it is very reasonable after I said it was expensive, so up to you! I think it is quite pricey for a few days away, depends on whether you are staying for a few weeks like some people then of course it evens out.
How much time is best to spend on St Martin’s?
It depends what kind of traveller you are and how many islands you want to visit too. Personally, I like to see new things each day and am not very good at relaxing so 3 nights was just perfect. If you like to chill on a beach, read a book and take it easy then you could stay for a week. The people we met here who were camping were staying for 3 weeks! I guess camping keeps costs down and means you can staffer longer.
Where to stay on St Martin’s Island?
Karma St Martin’s
Karma St Martin’s is a lovely 30 room dog friendly hotel right on the seafront. The rooms are small but cosy, with very comfortable beds and great views. The best part about this place is the food! We ate SO well. From eggs Benedict for breakfast, crab sandwiches for lunch to delicious lobster for dinner you’re in for a treat here! It is at the pricier end of the scale but it is a really lovely stay. The location is also fab for the sunset, which we unfortunately dint get to see while we were there!
I couldn’t seem to find any Air Bnb properties on St Martin’s at the moment, but St Mary’s has a few nice ones! There are a few on Booking though!
The campsite is open only during the season here which runs from about April to October. I can’t actually see how much it costs but it will definitely be the cheapest option. The campsite also offers a luggage pick up service for a fee of £10 return, as the walk from the harbour takes around 30 minutes.
Even better – Glamping!
You can also stay in a ‘Scilly Yurt’ while you are here which looks brilliant!
Best things to do on St Martin’s?
Go for a walk
As we left our hotel on St Martin’s, we turned right and did a small loop around the island. This is when we found our favourite beach! We had it totally to ourselves and it was stunning. The white sand and perfect clear sea really makes you feel like you are in Australia or somewhere! Our favourite I believe is called Great Bay!
Rent a kayak
Water sports are of course one of the number one things to do here! Surrounded by the sea, rent a kayak, paddle board or go for a swim. I saw a few people swimming here, and I think mainly in wetsuits but some might have been without I cut remember now. It is England after all so the sea is COLD. For me much too cold, but some people are braver than I am.
Head into town for a bite to eat
As I said earlier, Karma St Martin’s is a great choice for food but there are a few other lovely places not to miss. Not on this list are also Little Arthur’s Cafe and Adam’s fish and chips.
The Seven Stones
I was recommended this place by a few people when I said I was on St Martin’s. This is a lovely pub a bit up a hill, so has some great views. If you like pub food then be sure to stop by for some lunch or dinner.
The Island Bakery
You have to try a Cornish pasty! Otherwise, this is the perfect place for some snacks and also fresh bread if you do decide to go camping and need some supplies.
Polreath Tea Room
The perfect spot for afternoon tea! Stop by for homemade cakes and a cream tea. If you’ve never had a cream tea then it is a must! Nothing beats a homemade scone with clotted cream and some jam.
What day trips can you do from St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly?
There are 4 more islands to see from St Martin’s. The closest one is Tresco, also a very small island. You can actually see all the way to Tresco from St Martin’s. We got a small boat over to Tresco and I think it took less than 10 minutes. You will have to choose a time to go and come back, and it was a boat with a capacity of maybe 10 people?
You can either walk around Tresco, which takes a few hours with stops along the way, Or you can also hire a bike! We had around 4-5 hours here and it was plenty.
Tresco Abbey Garden
This is a private garden open to the public for most of the day until about 4pm. As you enter, you will see lots of lovely red squirrels, which if you are from London is very exciting. There are lots of lovely small paths to wander along. I would say you need an hour or two maximum to wander around. From where to boat drops you off it is around a 10 minute walk to get to the Abbey Gardens.
Follow the path around past the Abbey, and you will reach some fields, a beach and some nice small houses. There is a longer walk you can also do depending on the weather.
Ruin Beach cafe
Once you are done exploring Tresco Island, head to Ruin beach cafe for a bite to eat or some dinner! We had a delicious chocolate brownie here and a pistachio slice. From here you can also see the boats coming in so you can be ready for the trip back to St Martin’s. There is also a lovely beach here but it was much busier than any of the ones we saw on St Martin’s. This may be because on Tresco there were quite a few houses right on the beach so it’s quite accessible.
St Mary’s Island
This is the largest of the Scilly Isles. We unfortunately only made it to the Co-op here to get some snacks before the boat back to Penzance but it looked lovely. St Mary’s has plenty of food options and is generally much more built up than the other islands. Strudel Up Country caught my eye when I was looking up places to eat if you like Bavarian food!
Bryher Island looks great for food, walks and water sports. I also read that it is good for fishing and there are some artists studios to see. They also seem very involved in the Taste of Scilly Food Festival, with lots of delicious food to try! This lasts throughout September, so this is a great time to go!
St Agnes Island
What makes St Agnes extra special is that at low tide, you can walk right over to Gugh on the sandbar that is created. There are lots of lovely places to eat and it really looks like a stunning island I wish I had made it there!
After your trip to St Martin’s why not stop in Dorset on your way back?
To break up our trip back to London, as I mentioned earlier, we spent a few days in Dorset. Dorset is one of my favourite places in the UK with so many beautiful places to see in Dorset! I’ll name my two favourites here below, even Dorset in Winter is lovely!
Best things to do in Dorset!
Sunset at Old Harry Rocks
This place is EPIC! From a drone you reasllysee just how impressive Old Harry Rocks is. Take a walk here, or kayak right up to the huge cliffs. Sunset is a great time to go, you won’t be disappointed.
Spend the day at the beach at Durdle Door
The most beautiful Dorset beach! Durdle Door is a stunning natural arch out at sea. The water is as clear as the Isles of Scilly and like nowhere I’ve ever seen in the UK!
I hope you enjoyed this post on St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly! The Isles of Scilly really are stunning and very unique. Whether you come once just to experience it and then convince everyone else to go like me, or come back year on year and keep it your little secret so it is less busy, I hope you get to go! Make sure to add some time to visit other islands if you can too. If you do a day trip, go for the Skybus there and ferry back option if you can tisane time. You will need all the time you can get. However, if you are trying to keep costs down then get the ferry back. A last top tip is to check where the car park for the Scillonian ferry is carefully, a we almost went to the wrong place!
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