With an azure sea, vibrant green landscape, sub-tropical gardens and sandy beaches, camping in the Isles of Scilly is undoubtedly an ideal holiday for outdoor enthusiasts. This cluster of low-lying islands amid turquoise ocean will bring you back to a simpler way of life, with deserted beaches and pristine landscapes.
Situated off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly consists of an archipelago of over 140 islands and has a population of 2,000 scattered across five main islands: St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher and St. Agnes.
Whether you are planning to hike, cycle, visit on a day-trip, or are just looking for an inexpensive way to visit, then camping in the Isles of Scilly can be a cost effective and fun way to do that. It’s also a truly unique opportunity to lose yourself in the quiet scenery that makes this place so special.
We give our thoughts on some of our top campsite picks below, alongside our recommendations for places to eat near each. Then we show you some of our favourite walks and things to do in the Isles of Scilly. We also look at wild camping in the Isles of Scilly later in this article too, as well as the weather, and great walks to do!
Camping in the Isles of Scilly
These tranquil and pristine islands are praised for the absence of ubiquitous chain restaurants and ram-packed beaches, making this destination a great base to recharge your energy and reconnect with nature. Speaking of nature, you will love the multitude of wildlife that can be spotted around the islands – such as basking sharks, seals, dolphins and rare species of birds!
There are some great campsites to choose from that are located close to some of the best walking and cycling routes in the Isles of Scilly – we give some of our favourites below.
A good quality walking in the Isles of Scilly book – like this one – can help you plan what island you may want to visit and walk in, and therefore what campsites might be of interest to you.
However if you’re looking for impartial information on Isles of Scilly campsites, we have you covered below!
Camping in the Isles of Scilly: Some of the best campsites in the Isles of Scilly
This great value for money campsite, set on 9.5 acres, is situated just a few minutes from the quay in the heart of St. Mary’s. It’s the perfect base for exploring the island’s natural beauty, well preserved historic sites, and beautiful sandy beaches.
The site has ample space to pitch your tent which ensures a degree of intimacy and privacy. We love the fact you can spot rare birds and wildlife from the comfort of your tent here too.
There’s some great local attractions nearby as well, such as the Isles of Scilly Museum which is located just a ten-minute walk away, as well as the historical Garrison Walls.
The beach, space and and amazing food available on nearby Porthcressa Beach are a must after a full day of adventure, and we recommend you try the hot chocolate and orange liquor at Dibble and Grub (great meals too) after a swim.
This charming family-run site located on the western shores of St. Agnes is the only dairy farm in Scilly and is packed full of character. With spectacular views of the ocean, sublime sunsets and clear skies for stargazing, it was an easy choice to add this site to our list of best campsites.
You will love waking up to the sound of the waves here, and the beach which faces the campsite is a great water sports and swimming spot – perfect for the adventurous traveler. If you hire a kayak or paddleboard you can even spot seals and puffins along the rocky shore.
St Agnes is an instant heart-stealer as this island has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a vast array of carns (ancient burial chambers) and coves. It also have some great cafés, pubs and shops.
We recommend visiting the nearby ancient ruins of Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber and Halangy Down Ancient Village. It’s like stepping back in time.
St. Martin’s Campsite
Known as the sole 4 star campsite on the islands, St. Martin’s Campsite is beautifully nestled amongst pittosporum hedges so as to protect you from the occasional Atlantic winds.
Ideally situated just yards away from Middle Town beach, this site is only a short walk from Lower Town Quay too, where you can enjoy romantic boat trips and try the very good fish and chips.
This part of the Isles of Scilly has so many stunning shell-laden beaches, unspoilt rugged coastal paths and heather-coated headlands that are begging to be explored
Rated as one of the country’s best by The Telegraph and The Guardian, this campsite has tantalizing panoramic sea views and certainly captured our heart!
Sitting between two hills, this campsite is just a few minutes from great food spots and attractions such as deserted beaches, boat hire outlets, shops, a pub, and even a Crab Shack!
Located on the smallest inhabited island in the Scillonian archipelago – Bryher – and 28 miles off the Cornish coast, Bryher Campsite lets you pick your own pitch. That’s a tough decision though as you have to choose whether to overlook the stunning Tresco Channel or the vast Atlantic!
Wild camping in the Isles of Scilly
Like other areas of the British Isles, wild camping in the Isles of Scilly isn’t officially allowed. Although campers are allowed to pitch their tent if they have the permission of a landowner.
However as these islands are a popular walking and surfing area, outdoor enthusiasts do sometimes wild camp here. If you are planning to wild camp in the Isles of Scilly – and can’t be swayed to stay in a campsite instead – we’ve compiled the following guidelines to help keep you out of trouble and camp in a considerate manner:
- You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place which will not be easily seen. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, always seek out the landowner and ask permission. They may request a small fee.
- Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet, blends in with the landscape, and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight walking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to wild camp in Isles of Scilly.
- If you are walking a trail you should camp away from the path as a matter of courtesy.
- When wild camping in Isles of Scilly, you must never make a campfire. For cooking, use a storm cooker. Our recommendation would be the Swedish brand Trangia, as their storm cookers are safe and virtually indestructible. Portable solar ovens, like this one by GoSun, are also a good fuel-less option.
- Take any rubbish with you, and leave your camping spot exactly the way you found it.
Some of the best places to visit in the Isles of Scilly
Tresco Abbey Garden & Valhalla Collection
If you want to discover rare and exotic plants from around the world, this incredible garden offers you a subtropical flourishing habitat.
It’s home to rare species from across the Mediterranean climate zones, all of which are located in a pretty evergreen garden that was built in the 19th century around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey.
St. Martin’s Observatory
If you are mesmerized by space and stars, this spot is perfect. It has two observation domes – one dedicated to deep sky viewing, and the other for solar viewing.
The Isles of Scilly boasts a pristine and unique environment that’s ideal for stargazing, and the observatory is in a designated Dark Sky Discovery Zone – meaning it’s one of the world’s best places for looking at the night sky.
St Martin’s Vineyard
This coastal vineyard offers you sweeping views out towards the Eastern Isles. Brimming with wildflower-filled fields, you can enjoy a self-guided tour with your family and even your four-legged friend. With nine Vine Stops, you will discover the site, the vines, and wine making techniques.
Some of the best walks in the Isles of Scilly
Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber Loop
Situated on the island of St, Mary’s, this approximately 9 mile-long walk will last around 4 hours but is a great way to explore the island’s beauty.
Here you’ll discover an ancient Bronze Age burial mound and the ruins of an ancient settlement. It’s a unique opportunity to explore a piece of history, whilst also enjoying extensive views of the surrounding islands and nearby town.
Bryher Round Island Walk
This fantastic 4 mile walk will take 2-3 hours and offers ever-changing sweeping views on each side of Bryher.
Expect to see seabirds, sandy beaches, Bronze Age history, and a few potential nice spots to grab a bite along the way. You can also undertake the scenic climb up Watch Hill – the highest point on Bryher.
St Agnes and the Gugh circuit
This 6.3 mile-long circuit is a great way to explore the island and if you choose to do the walk at low tide, you can even see the channel divided into two by the tidal causeway.
With a starting and finishing point at St Agnes Porth Conger quay, get ready for spectacular sea views and an abundance of natural history along the way.
Camping in the Isles of Scilly: The weather and best months to visit
With mild to warm temperatures, spring is a lovely time to visit the Isles of Scilly as kids and families can make the most of a full day exploring the historic town. Temperatures range from 11°C to 14°C, and visitors can see flowers in full bloom and wildlife can be spotted during walks.
Summer is a great time to visit as the islands are one of the sunniest spots in the British Isles! With 22-24 °C on the warmest days of the year, summer is also a perfect time to undertake relaxing walking trails as the land will be dry and walkers can enjoy the long daylight hours.
With milder temperatures during autumn, it’s a fantastic time to avoid the peak summer tourist season, go on hikes, take in the majestic coastal views, and enjoy the autumnal colours at St Martin’s Vineyard. In particular, we love the atmosphere when walking the St Agnes and the Gugh circuit at this time of the year.
Winter brings the shortest daylight hours and coolest temperatures, but visitors can enjoy the crisp air during walks on the different trails on the island. Compared to other parts of the UK during this season, temperatures can be a mild 8-12°C.