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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > United Kingdom > England > Beaches in the Scilly Isles, Cornwall

About Beaches in the Scilly Isles, Cornwall

This idyllic archipelago of 140 tiny islands is like another world. The islands lie 45km (28 miles) off Lands End, the most southwesterly point of the British Isles, and have a mild climate and miles of peachy sand beaches. This is the place to head if you harbour dreams of Robinson Crusoe-style solitude, or crave adventure and back-in-time family holidays.

Beach:

The best beaches are found on the third-largest island of St Martin’s. In fact, a contender for Britain’s best is the tropical-seeming, white-sand Par Beach. Other brilliant beaches are Lawrence’s Bay and Great Bay – from where you can walk across to White Island at low tide.

St Mary’s is the largest island, and has several attractive spots, including the sandy Town and Porthcressa beaches. Less-inhabited Tresco has lovely Appletree Bay and the gentle sandy arc of Pentle Bay. Wild Bryer island feels the most remote and harbours the tranquil Rushy Bay.

Beyond the beach:

Over on the mainland, visit one of the world’s most extraordinary theatres, above beautiful Porthcurno Bay, around 14km (9 miles) southwest of Penzance. The cliff-edge auditorium of the Minack Theatre (www.minack.com) is set on the rocks, while the stage is backed by endless views of sea and sky. It was built by a theatre-loving Englishwoman, Rowena Cade, who created it for a performance of The Tempest in her back garden. The season runs from around May to September, though you can visit all year.

Family fun:

Aside from swimming, sand and surf, there are plenty of adventures to be had here. Check out the amazing Abbey Garden (www.tresco.co.uk/stay/abbey-garden) on Tresco, which includes a wealth of botanical riches and artefacts found from shipwrecks. You can arrange diving, speedboat rides and snorkelling trips on St Mary’s; diving and snorkelling is particularly good around Bryer. Scilly Walks (www.scillywalks.co.uk) has nothing to do with Monty Python, but arranges themed walks around the isles.

Exploring further:

Splashing out:

For the most dramatic approach, take a helicopter (www.islesofscillyhelicopter.com) from Penzance to one of the major islands, including Bryer and Tresco. Day returns are available, or you can buy a saver return (May to October) in advance.