Close your eyes and imagine a 3 hour ferry journey that takes you to a groups of tiny islands dotted with exotic plants, surrounded by turquoise sea and white sandy beaches. You would probably be thinking of somewhere in the Caribbean perhaps, or South East Asia.

Now imagine that once you arrive you have the chance go “island hopping” and take a boat ride to four other holiday islands, and if you’re feeling adventurous, as many as 140 uninhabited islands after that. Greece perhaps?

But what if we told you that the ferry departs from the south western tip of England. And that the ferry’s destination also happens to be in England. It could only be one, very special place; The Isles of Scilly.

The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the south west tip of the Cornish peninsula, England. They are located about 45 km or 28 miles away from the mainland in the Celtic Sea, although you could be forgiven for thinking they’re in the English Channel, or even the Atlantic Ocean.

beach isle of scilly

There are 5 inhabited islands in the group, and as many as 140 more, too small or remote to live. Together all of these tiny islands make up one of the world’s largest archipelagos. The inhabited islands, and also the ones popular with visitors, are St Mary’s, Tresco, St Martin’s, Bryher, St Agnes. These islands have a combined population of around 2,000 people.

The islands play host to a wide range of wildlife, from migratory birds to hundreds of seals, and to some species not seen on the UK mainland and even unique to the Scilly Islands, such as the Scilly shrew. Since the islands rarely, if ever, have snow or frost, you can find some plants and trees you would expect to find in the sub tropics, which include plams and cacti, and also an unsual tree normally found in Hawaaii called metrosideros (see more about the unusual plants of the Isles of Scilly here).

grey seal isles of scilly

The Isles of Scilly make a great choice for all types of holidays, whether you’re looking for something sporty, or a bit of wildlife watching, or just a friendly, relaxed family holiday.

Get there by ferry on the Scillonian III, a scheduled passenger ferry that operates daily between Penzance Harbour in Cornwall, and St Mary’s. For more information and booking, see the official Isles of Scilly site here, or take a look at the video clip below (which also includes information on flights).

Map of the ferry route from Penzance to St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly

Photo credits: Tresco; Lighthouse; Beach; Grey Seal; Scillionian III