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How to get to the Isles of Scilly: By Sea

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

There are multiple ways to get to the Isles of Scilly, the oldest being by boat.

You can either travel by the Scillonian or private charter.

The Scillonian III

The first Scillonian was built in 1924 by The Steamship Company. She completed her maiden voyage to St Mary's on 25th January 1926 and her first time-tabled commercial trip on Thursday, 2nd February 1926, from St. Mary's to Penzance.

The second Scillonian was built in 1956, shortly followed by the Scillonian III in 1977.

The Scillonian III is in use 8 months of the year and can transport up to 485 passengers and cargo for the islands. It is an essential lifeline for tourists and locals on the Isles of Scilly.

Together with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is working on securing funding for the much-needed Scillonian IV.

The Scillonian runs Monday-Saturday from 1st March until 1st November, with Sunday sailings throughout July & August. There is one sailing a day with the boat departing Penzance at 09.15 and returning from St Mary's at 16:30. There are occasionally double sailings when island events occur, for example, Pilots Gig Championship Weekend.

How long is the Scillonian boat trip to the Isles of Scilly?

The boat takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes and goes in most weather. It is only cancelled if the seas are extremely rough.

The Scillonian is the most reliable method of transport to the islands as it isn't affected by fog which is extremely common around the Isles of Scilly.

What is the cost of the boat tickets?

Standard tickets are available from £76.25, child tickets (2-11) from £42.75, infant (0-1) from £21.25 and dogs £11.00.

The boat departs from Penzance Quay, a 10-minute walk from the train station. The overnight sleeper train from Paddington gets into Penzance in time to meet the Scillonian. There is also car parking available for those that drive down.

What is the luggage allowance on the Scillonian?

The luggage allowance is 2x hold luggage of no more than 20kg plus 1 x hand luggage of no more than 5kg. You can also book bikes and camping equipment.

Once you arrive on the Isles of Scilly, if you have labelled your bags with your name and the name of the accommodation you're staying, then they will automatically be delivered to your accommodation by our local courier company - Richard Hand.

Should you travel down the night before, there are many hotels and B&Bs in Penzance for overnight accommodation.

Food and drinks

Two cafes on board serve a selection of drinks and snacks.

Should you be susceptible to motion sickness, we recommend taking some travel sickness tablets before your journey.

Private Charter

The alternative way to travel by sea to the Scilly Isles is via private charter.

The private charters usually only run when the flights are cancelled due to fog and if the sea conditions are calm.

Two private charter companies work together on these trips; Falcon Boating and Raptor Boating.

The private charter boats are priced at £100 per person each way. They take approximately two hours, depending on sea conditions.

Day Trips

If you're not looking for places to stay on the Isles of Scilly and are only visiting for a day, a day trip is an option via the Scillonian III.

The Isles of Scilly Travel offer exclusive day trip deals on the Scillonian III, making it the perfect option for anyone in Cornwall who wants to sample these islands or visit on a budget for the day.

Once you arrive at the Isles of Scilly on the Scillonian, you can jump straight on a boat to an off island - perfect if you'd like to see Tresco Gardens in full bloom.

Or you can spend the day on St Mary's browsing the shops, walking the coastline and enjoying lunch with a view from the many restaurants and cafes.

Once you've confirmed your boat trips, use our website to find accommodation on the Isles of Scilly.

We hope that we've provided all you need to know about getting to the Isles of Scilly by Sea, but if not, please feel free to get in touch with Scilly Escapes or leave your question in the comments section below.

If this isn't your preferred way of travel, check out our blog on how to get to the Isles of Scilly by air.

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