Travel to the Scilly Isles
Located around 30 miles west of Land's End, the Scilly Isles do present the visitor with some challenges in getting there! Fortunately there are actually a range of options with regular sea and air links between Scilly and the mainland throughout the year. Up until a few years ago transport to the Scillies was very much centred around Penzance. However, flights are now operated from several regional airports.
Below are the main options for getting to the Isles of Scilly. Which method is best for you will depend on the cost, how long it takes and where you wish to travel from. Please note: as a rule none of these links operate on Sundays.
The Scillonian III ferry operates from the Lighthouse Pier in Penzance sailing to Hugh Town on St Mary’s. Carrying up to 600 passengers, it provides a daily service from the end of March until the beginning of November.
The Scillonian generally leaves Penzance at around 09:15 and returns from St Mary’s at around 16:30. The crossing takes an average of around 2hrs 40min although this can vary slightly depending on weather conditions. There are a few days during the summer where additional early / late sailings are run, this includes during the World Pilot Gig Championships.
The Scillonian is the cheapest option and is ideal for a day trip to St Mary’s. It is worth noting that a day trip ticket is around a third the price of an open return. If you are interested in exploring some of the other islands then it might be better to fly or stay for a few days. Another potential drawback of the ferry service arises from the shallow draught (to allow access to St Mary’s harbour) and potentially bumpy seas. Whilst fitted with a stabiliser system the boat still rolls a little.
For further information contact Isles of Scilly Travel on 0845 710 5555
The other option for flying to the Isles of Scilly is by fixed wing aircraft. There are scheduled flights from Land's End, Newquay, Exeter, Southampton and Bristol airports. All flights are to St Mary’s and are surprisingly quick, taking only 90 minutes from Southampton and around 15 minutes from Land's End airport near St Just.
The plane is slightly cheaper than the helicopter but significantly more expensive than the boat for day trips.
The Skybus service is operated by the Isles of Scilly Travel company - T 0845 710 5555
The helicopter flies from just outside of Penzance direct to both St Mary’s and Tresco with the flight lasting a little over 15 minutes. With several flights per day in the summer and 3 flights a day in the winter this is the quickest (and most expensive) link between the mainland and islands. This is also the only way to get to Tresco directly.
The helicopter carries 9 passengers including children from 2 years up. As of 2023 the flight can also carry a limited number of dogs.
For further information contact Penzance Helicopters on 01736 780828