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8 of the best things to do in the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly, a piece of the Caribbean off the Cornish coast, is packed with things to do. From hiking its heathlands to gawking at gannets, you needn't waste a minute on these islands...

St Agnes Lighthouse in Scilly (Shutterstock)

1. Snorkel with seals

Atlantic grey seals in the Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

Atlantic grey seals in the Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

Wally the wandering walrus turned up in the islands in June 2021, seeming to delight in approaching boats. But, you're more likely to enjoy face to fin encounters with friendly Atlantic grey seals and this is a great spot to get in the water with them. October is probably the best time to jump in as there are newborn pups to spot and the water still holds the summer’s warmth.

For more information and proper guidance during your snorkelling experience, visit Scilly Diving.

2. Visit artist studios

Fay Page Jewellery on St. Martins, Isles of Scilly (Wanderlust)

Fay Page Jewellery on St. Martins, Isles of Scilly (Wanderlust)

The isles have a well deserved reputation for arts and crafts. Visit some of the many studios to meet the artists and find the best possible memento to take home.

Oriel Hicks of stained-glass fame is found at the Phoenix Studios just outside Hugh Town.

3. Go birdwatching

Two gannets, one landing, the other sitting on her eggs (Dreamstime)

Two gannets, one landing, the other sitting on her eggs (Dreamstime)

Upwards of 400 different species have been recorded on the islands, more than any other single site in Europe. Spring and autumn are best for migratory birds, with October particularly good for finding rare birds, but at anytime of year there will be plenty to see.

Seabirds include important colonies of breeding puffins, Manx shearwater, guillemots and European storm petrel. Watch out for gannets fishing; their plummets into the sea are breathtaking. 

4. Ride the beach

Horseriders crossing a river on the Isles of Scilly (Wanderlust)

Horseriders crossing a river on the Isles of Scilly (Wanderlust)

St Mary’s Riding Centre offers rides across the beaches, moorland and along farm tracks. You might even get to take your steed into the sea. All levels of experience are catered for at this well-regarded stables

5. Experience the islands' landscapes

Periglis, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

Periglis, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

Walking is the natural, and sometimes only, way to explore the islands. Visit during one of the dedicated walking weekends to really discover the best of the islands’ landscape. St Agnes is particularly beautiful.

6. Walk the line between islands

Block House Beach, Tresco, Isles of Scilly (Shutterstock)

Block House Beach, Tresco, Isles of Scilly (Shutterstock)

Twice a year, the tides are low enough that you can walk between Tresco and Bryher. A pop up festival appears on the sands with food stalls, bars, live music and entertainment. 

7. Muse at the museums

A red phone box (Dreamstime)

A red phone box (Dreamstime)

The Isles of Scilly Museum on Church Street, St Mary’s, doesn’t look much from the outside but inside there’s a fascinating insight into the history and heritage of the islands including the infamous shipwrecks.

Bryher has a tiny museum inside a traditional red phone box featuring the making of the 1989 film When the Whales Came, set and shot on the island. 

8. Rediscover your childhood

St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Dreamstime)

Rock pooling, beachcombing and splashing in the sea are some of the carefree pleasures you can enjoy. If feeling more energetic, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are easily arranged.

Get to grips with the archipelago

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