Days Out

Isles of Scilly in 4 hours

The Isles of Scilly in 4 hours.

Impossible you say?

We proved it can be done. You can indeed see the Isle of Scilly in 4 hours and have time to eat, play, and shop!

How did we do it?

A bit of preparation and research went in to planning this trip. We were staying in Cornwall for our family holiday adjacent to a train line that ran directly to Penzance.

At 8.00 am we jumped on a Great Western train and ended up in Penzanance at 8.15. A quick walk past the harbour took us to the Scillonian III. I had booked the ferry a few weeks prior and found that we didn’t need passports to travel, but it is preferable to have some form of photo ID with you. You can check the rules for travel here.

We boarded fairly quickly as there were no queues for us. There may have been if we wanted to check any bags in but we had taken our picnic with us in our rucksacks.

The sea journey takes approximately 3 hours. If you have a sensitivity to travelling by water, I would wholly recommend travelling in the lower deck. We didn’t figure this out until the journey back but I wish I’d have known sooner!

The kids managed to see jellyfish rolling around in the foam of the waves next to the boat. A pool of dolphins followed us for a little while, which was a delight to witness and put a pause in our seasickness. The journey was easy and we put some food in the kids before we got to St Marys Harbour, just in case we couldn’t find anywhere to eat.

The Scillonian III

On the Scillonian III there are cafés and toilets with heavy doors that don’t swing open while your knickers are around your ankles! An information sequence rolls over and over on the TV on the middle deck giving information on the Isles of Scilly, such as how to get around the island. It was here we noticed the Scilly Cart company and decided that was how we would see the Isles of Scilly in 4 hours!

St Mary’s Harbour

St Mary’s Harbour is a quaint little quay full of fishing boats, crab baskets and information boards with times for seal spotting and whale watching. There are company’s such as Scilly Seal Snorkelling Co who can take you on a whistle stop tour of the islands to search for sea dogs!

We disembarked and wandered through the crowds who were gathering their luggage, presumably people who were staying for more than one day. As we broke out of the masses we wandered up a street trying to gather our bearings. We got on to the phone to the Scilly Cart company who gave us directions. Following google maps, we found our way and hired a golf cart in a very quick and timely manner.

We were given a 6 seater cart that reached speeds of about 12 miles per hour. The Scilly Cart Company gave us instructions on how to use it and sent us on our way within 15 minutes!

Getting around

The kids squealed and jumped on! Dicky drove first and I navigated. Scilly is full of little beaches and is only 12 miles in circumference. On our first tour around, we took in the sights and the quirky little details. Cyclists overtook us and cars got annoyed but it was a very enjoyable way to travel.

Old Town Bay invited us in as it looked like an ideal spot for crabs. Opposite the beach is the Old Town Cafe. We ordered a cup of tea and some chips while the kids finished off their picnic. A small hut next to the cafe offered crab buckets, poles and nets for children to borrow and return at no cost. I thought this is a lovely feature and definitely adds to the island charm.

After feeling satiated with our food we helped ourselves to a few crabbing instruments and set off on the beach. Finley caught a crab and was so pleased with himself. I collected some beautiful pearlescent snail shells to make something out of when we got home.

Staying for longer?

Did you know there are more than 140 islands that make up the isles of Scilly? There are 5 fully inhabited islands and so much to see. From the beautiful sub tropical gardens of Tresco, to Bronze age burial sites in St Agnes, or the white, med-inspired sands of St Martins, there is something for everybody to explore. If you don’t want to travel around by golf cart, there are bicycles for hire too. Both of these can be hired for numerous days in a row to cover the entirety of your stay.

The Scilly Isles are perfect for walking holidays, or for a relaxing long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With miles of beautiful coastline and historical sites for exploration, there’s no need to be inside. The pace is so much slower, but that didn’t mean we felt we were pushed for time trying to see the Isles of Scilly in 4 hours.

After we had finished with the golf cart, we walked to the main town for a spot of shopping. I bought some beautiful seal earrings, and of course we had to sample some fudge. The IOS clothes shop sells lovely items which are all very nautical themed.

The Isles of Scilly want for nothing. They have restaurants, a post office and banks. We spotted a fire station, police and they also have an airport where the Skybus is located. If you would like a longer day on the island, the Skybus is only a 15 minute journey from Lands End.

Can we really see the Isles of Scilly in 4 hours?

You can certainly see most of it. The Isles of Scilly make for a lovely day out and tease at the prospect of throwing down your bag and staying until you’ve explored every nook and cranny. Overall, we managed to go to the beach, catch a crab, ride around the whole of the island and sample a bit of food. We walked around the shops and watched the boats at work in the harbour. Quite a productive day I think.

Island life is very appealing and with the tropical feel to the island, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake it for a foreign country. I would love to go back, if only to do a bit of seal snorkeling and puffin watching!

Have you been to the Isles of Scilly? What did you think?


  1. I can’t believe how much you managed to fit in!

    I’d of been absolutely over the moon to spot the dolphins.

    Sounds like a great 4 hours x

  2. Wow, sounds like you managed to pack a lot in to 4 hours. I have to confess, I didn’t really know much about the Scilly Isles other than their name.

  3. Oh wow the Isles of Scilly look fab. We would love to visit for a whistle stop tour. So much to see and do for sure xx

  4. what a fun looking adventure, I will make sure to visit this place soon when we have time, thank u for sharing!!

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