Tresco, Isles of Scilly: What to do and where to stay


FACT PACK:

Accommodation: We stayed at one of the Flying Boat Cottages called, Gem
Location: Tresco
Nearest station: On the Cornish mainland. You can then reach the Isles of Scilly by ferry, small plane, and helicopter from 2018. Check out Isles of Scilly Travel for more info.
Perfect for: Families, couples that like cycling and anyone and everyone who appreciates really good food and empty beaches.


Our garden at Gem, one of the Flying Boat Cottages

WHERE AM I?

A family-owned island, with 14 beautiful beaches, bike hire and famous Abbey Gardens and a Spa Club with swimming pool, Tresco is the jewel in the Isles of Scilly crown. It is the one most lauded, and most polished, while still retaining its rugged charm. You can choose to stay in a cottage or at the New Inn pub.

When you book to stay on the island, the Tresco transport team contact you to arrange transport for your arrival, from St Mary’s where you’ll land by plane or boat. It’s a car free island, bar a few service vehicles, so the aim of the game is to get about by foot or bike – how wonderful!

The land is pretty flat, with a few gentle hills, and due to the restricted amount of accommodation, it is never crowded. In fact, when we went in June, we only saw one other couple on one of the beaches, once. It felt like our very own private island. The Tresco island office takes care of your whole trip – so once you book, your trip is carefree even before you get there.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMODATION LIKE?

We stayed in one of the self-catering Flying Boat Cottages, called Gem: it was huge! The cottages sleep up to ten and are beachfront, near the port you arrive at. Nowhere on the island is ever too busy or too far away from anything, so location isn’t too important. However, we liked that this cottage was near to the island office, the Spa Club, the shop and the Flying Boat restaurant.

Gem Cottage…

The beach at the front of the Flying Boat Cottages

WHAT IS THERE TO DO?

Get on your bike! We cycled every day. Out to the Tresco Abbey Gardens, home for lunch made with food from the deli, back out to a beach in the afternoon, home to get changed, then back out for dinner at the New Inn or Ruin Beach Café. You can also catch a daily tripper boat to the neighbouring islands of St Mary’s, Bryher, St Martin’s and St Agnes.

WHY NOT READ ALL ABOUT MY VISIT STAYING ON THE ISLE OF BRYHER?

Walk along Ruin beach, hunting for shells – though you won’t have to hunt very hard… The climb up to the castle at the far end to burn off all the tasty food you’ll have no doubt wolfed down at the Ruin Beach Cafe.

CROMWELL’S CASTLE

Walk along the coastal path, (watch out, it’s a little bit rocky for children), toward Cromwell’s Castle and two Tudor Forts, for some amazing views over Tresco and over to Bryher.

THE ABBEY GARDENS

The Abbey Gardens of Tresco are at the top of most visitor’s ‘to see’ lists. It is home to hundreds of exotic plants from all over the world. Due to the isles’ sub-tropical climate, plants thrive here in the consistent temperatures year round.

The 19th century gardens are built around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey. We spent half a day wandering around the tree-lined paths and terraces and exploring the vegetable patches.

Tresco Abbey Garden is open daily from 10am until 4pm

We saw the Abbey’s golden pheasant! 

WHAT IS THERE TO EAT?

We had dinner at the Ruin Beach Cafe – what an incredible setting! 

Beautifully presented, delicious starters of crab meat and avocado and a bacon and butternut squash risotto

For mains, catch of the day with samphire and pepper sauce, and pork belly with creamed potatoes and pickled cabbage

Cheers! The wine was chilled to perfection…

We also ate at the New Inn. The location wasn’t as scenic, but the food here was my favourite. I had chicken caesar croquettes followed by pork belly on celeriac remoulade and pear velouté. If I’m ever asked that ‘what would your last meal be’ question – this is what I now answer. I didn’t have room for desert but really wanted to try the chocolate brownie with salted caramel. Next time…

A spot of after dinner chess at the New Inn

Our only other meal was a brunch at the Flying Boat, which was just next to the Flying Boat Cottages. It is an all-day waterfront restaurant overlooking Bryher, and oh my. I would highly recommend you visit for brunch. I had the lobster mac and cheese and my partner had the full English. It took us ages to choose from the menu filled with pancake stacks, crab on sourdough, pea bruschetta and lobster and pineapple samosa. I could happily eat here every day.

Happy brunch faces…

Most of the time you might find yourself cooking at your cottage, which is easy and cosy. When the sun came out, we took our lunch outside – what a view!

And when it was cold? Cup of tea and a bacon sandwich in front of the cottage fire…

A bag of Isles of Scilly produce, all of which you can buy in the Tresco deli

WHAT MAKES THIS PLACE SPECIAL?

This is a real boomerang island. So many people we met, (at the pub or swimming pool – clearly not at the beach!), had come as children and now were taking their own families, back. Due to the limited amount of accommodation, it is advisable to book ahead of time. Lots of regular guests mean lots is always pre-booked up.

The Isles of Scilly, with its sub-tropical climate, attracts 120,000 visitors every year. We will be adding to those boomerang numbers and returning once we have our own family. And not just to try the brownie at the New Inn… It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with unspoiled beaches and an unusually natural feeling of peace. The crime rate is non-existent. No one, in general, locks their doors and children roam wildly  – it’s like a forgotten time. And it is so very magical.

Visit Tresco online to find out more about the restaurants we visited, and opening times for activities etc

More lovely Tresco island scenes

View from Gem Flying Boat Cottage

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