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How to get to the Isles of Scilly

How to get to the Isles of Scilly Map

About the Isles of Scilly

There are 3 main ways to get to the Isles of Scilly – by plane, by helicopter or by ferry. In this post, we look at each of those options. First, lets talk a bit about the islands. They are an archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall. The islands are located 25 to 36 miles (40 to 58 km) off Land’s End and consist of about 50 small islands and many more islets. Administratively, the islands are a distinct unit within England, though they form a part of the historic county of Cornwall. The total population of the islands at the 2011 United Kingdom census was 2,203. 

Getting to the Isles of Scilly is part of the fun and attraction of the visit and this article will give you more information about the different options available to reach your destination.

How to get to the Isles of Scilly by plane

The primary airport serving the Isles of Scilly is Land’s End Airport (LEQ), situated in St. Just, Cornwall. Travelers can access Land’s End Airport by car, bus, or taxi from various locations in Cornwall. The airport is well-equipped, providing essential amenities and services for passengers. Additionally, the airport’s location allows for stunning aerial views of the Cornish coastline during takeoff and landing.

Several airlines operate flights to the Isles of Scilly, but the most prominent and widely used is Skybus, owned and operated by Isles of Scilly Travel. Skybus offers regular flights from Land’s End Airport, Newquay Airport, and Exeter Airport to St. Mary’s Airport, which is the main airport serving the Isles of Scilly. The flights are operated on fixed-wing aircraft and provide a quick and scenic journey over the picturesque landscapes.

isles of scilly plane

The journey usually begins with a flight from Land’s End Airport, offering passengers the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the rugged Cornish coastline. The flight duration from Land’s End to St. Mary’s is approximately 30 minutes, making it a relatively short and comfortable trip. Newquay Airport and Exeter Airport also serve as departure points for flights to St. Mary’s, providing travelers with additional options based on their location and preferences.

Ticket prices for flights to the Isles of Scilly can vary depending on factors such as the departure airport, time of booking, and class of service. Generally, prices range from £100 to £200 (or more) for a round-trip ticket. It’s advisable to book tickets well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best prices and availability.

Upon arrival at St. Mary’s Airport, visitors are welcomed by the breathtaking scenery of the Isles of Scilly. St. Mary’s is the largest island in the archipelago and serves as a hub for transportation between the islands. From St. Mary’s, passengers can easily access other islands using inter-island boat services or small aircraft.

skybus

How to get to the Isles of Scilly by helicopter

Traveling to the Isles of Scilly by helicopter offers a distinctive and exhilarating alternative to traditional modes of transportation. While helicopters provide a more exclusive and scenic journey, there are specific considerations and logistics involved in planning a trip to this archipelago by air.

The Isles of Scilly are served by scheduled helicopter services operated by Penzance Helicopters. The main departure point for helicopter flights is the Penzance Heliport. Penzance is easily accessible by car or train, providing travellers with various options for reaching the heliport.

Penzance Helicopters operates a modern fleet of helicopters that connect Penzance to St. Mary’s, the largest island in the Isles of Scilly. The flight takes approximately 15-20 minutes, offering passengers a breathtaking aerial perspective of the stunning landscapes and turquoise waters below.

It’s important to note that helicopter services may be weather-dependent, and flights can be subject to cancellations or delays due to adverse conditions. Therefore, travelers planning a helicopter journey to the Isles of Scilly should check the weather forecast and stay informed about any potential disruptions.

helicopter to isles of scilly

Ticket prices for helicopter flights can be higher compared to other modes of transportation, with costs typically ranging from £150 to £200 (or more) for a one-way ticket. Additionally, booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure seats and ensure a smooth travel experience.

The helicopter service offers a convenient and time-efficient way to reach the Isles of Scilly, as the flight duration is significantly shorter than ferry crossings. Passengers can enjoy the luxury of arriving quickly and comfortably, maximizing their time to explore the islands.

Upon landing at St. Mary’s Airport, visitors can seamlessly transition to exploring the various islands using inter-island boat services or small aircraft. St. Mary’s serves as a central hub for transportation between the islands, making it easy for travelers to access their final destination within the archipelago.

Travelling to the Isles of Scilly by helicopter provides a unique and memorable experience, with Penzance Helicopters offering scheduled services from Penzance Heliport to St. Mary’s. While the cost may be higher compared to other modes of transportation, the convenience, speed, and panoramic views make the helicopter journey a captivating part of the overall adventure. Travellers seeking an exclusive and swift entry to the Isles of Scilly will find the helicopter option a compelling choice for their journey.

penzance helicopters

How to get to the Isles of Scilly by ferry

Traveling to the Isles of Scilly by ferry offers a leisurely and scenic option for those who prefer a more relaxed journey.. The primary ferry service connecting the mainland to the Isles of Scilly is the Scillonian III operated by Isles of Scilly Travel.

The journey begins at Penzance, where travelers can board the Scillonian III ferry. Penzance is easily accessible by car or train, making it a convenient departure point for both local and international visitors.

The Scillonian III ferry is a spacious vessel equipped with comfortable seating, a cafe, and outdoor deck areas, allowing passengers to enjoy the picturesque views of the Cornish coastline during the approximately 2.5 to 3-hour journey to St. Mary’s, the largest island in the Isles of Scilly. The ferry service typically operates from March to November, with varying schedules based on the season and weather conditions.

Ticket prices for the Scillonian III ferry vary depending on factors such as the time of booking, class of service, and whether it’s a round-trip or one-way ticket. Prices generally range from £50 to £100 or more, making it a cost-effective option compared to air travel.

It’s advisable to book ferry tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure seats and ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Travelers should also consider the weather conditions, as ferry services may be subject to cancellations or delays due to adverse weather.

Upon arrival at St. Mary’s, passengers can explore the charming island or easily transfer to other islands using inter-island boat services or small aircraft. St. Mary’s Airport serves as a central hub for transportation within the archipelago, providing a seamless connection between the islands.

The ferry journey to the Isles of Scilly is not only a mode of transportation but also an experience in itself. Passengers can revel in the sea breeze, take in the panoramic views, and witness the beauty of the coastline and wildlife along the way. The slow-paced journey allows travelers to unwind and embrace the tranquility before immersing themselves in the unique charm of the Isles of Scilly. This is a really pleasant way to travel, especially when the sea is calm.

ferry to isles of scilly

How to go island hopping on the Isles of Scilly

Every day, Scillonian III’s arrival at St. Mary’s sees the quayside bustling with local boatmen, ready to carry visitors to the ‘off islands’ – Tresco, St. Martin’s, St. Agnes and Bryher. You’ll find blackboards advertising times and routes for these day trips on the quay.

Each island has it’s own boating company that can ferry you around. As well as local notice boards, most of the boat operators have a website, or social media presence, making it easy to keep up with the latest trips and events.

Some of the best known boat operators are:

You can also buy tickets from the Tourist Information Centre on Porthcressa Beach, many of the hotels and guest houses and several local shops. There are also boating companies based on several of the off islands, offering excursions as well as regular water taxi services throughout Scilly

Winter Schedules For those staying on one of the off-islands and arriving by Skybus, please check with your inter-island boat operator to ensure that you can get to your respective island when arriving after 4pm.

scilly island hopping

Island Hopping in the Isles of Scilly

Island hopping in the Isles of Scilly unveils a maritime adventure like no other, allowing travellers to explore the diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, and charming communities scattered across this idyllic archipelago. With crystal-clear waters and a fleet of reliable boat services, the Isles of Scilly offer a unique and captivating island-hopping experience.

1. Choose Your Islands: The Isles of Scilly consist of five inhabited islands – St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, St. Agnes, and Bryher – each with its own distinct character and attractions. Before embarking on your island-hopping journey, consider the unique features and activities offered by each island to tailor your itinerary to your preferences.

2. Plan Your Routes: Several local boat operators facilitate island hopping by providing scheduled services between the islands. (See above). Research the boat schedules, routes, and travel times to plan an efficient and enjoyable itinerary. Most boat operators have informative websites or social media pages, offering up-to-date information on routes and schedules.

3. St. Mary’s – The Gateway: Begin your island-hopping escapade from St. Mary’s, the largest and central island. Explore the bustling quayside where boatmen await to ferry you to your chosen destinations. The St. Mary’s Boatmen Association’s ticket kiosk is a convenient starting point, providing information and tickets for various boat services.

4. Tresco and Bryher: For a taste of tranquility, head to Tresco and Bryher. Tresco Boat Services operates scheduled trips, scenic tours, and private hire options, allowing you to explore the gardens of Tresco or enjoy the rugged beauty of Bryher at your own pace.

island hopping in the isles of acilly

5. St. Martin’s – The White Sand Paradise: Known for its white sandy beaches and stunning views, St. Martin’s is a must-visit destination. Boat operators such as St. Agnes Boating provide regular services, making it easy to hop between islands and uncover the unique charm of each.

6. St. Agnes – Wildlife Safaris: St. Agnes offers a special treat for nature enthusiasts. St. Agnes Boating conducts wildlife safaris in collaboration with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, providing an opportunity to observe seabirds, seals, and puffins in their natural habitat.

7. Bryher – A Tranquil Haven: Round off your island-hopping adventure on Bryher, known for its laid-back atmosphere and unspoiled landscapes. Boating companies based on Bryher offer excursions and water taxi services, allowing you to explore the island’s hidden gems.

8. Plan for Flexibility: While island hopping, keep in mind that weather conditions may affect boat schedules. Stay flexible and check for any updates or changes to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

isles of scilly map

This useful Isles of Scilly map shows all of the Isles of Scilly, including useful places to visit, beaches, cafes, ancient sites and travel details.

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