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How to spend your stopover in St. Marys, Isles of Scilly

Friday 7 June 2024

View of the beach in St. Marys, Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly lie just off the coast of Cornwall but could easily be mistaken for a tropical island with their outstanding golden beaches and uncrowded and unspoilt landscapes. The magical archipelago is a cluster of magical gems in the Atlantic Ocean, where nature thrives and the mind and soul can relax.

If you’re looking to enjoy a UK cruise that includes the Isles of Scilly, and particularly St. Marys, then be prepared for an enchanting experience that you will never forget. There is a plethora of exciting attractions in St. Marys, so keep reading for things to do in St Marys on your cruise stopover.

How to spend your stopover in St. Marys, Isles of Scilly

  • Visit the historic Garrison Walls

  • Walk along Porthcressa Beach

  • Wonder at Bant's Carn Burial Chamber and Halangy Down Ancient Village

  • Meander Carreg Dhu Gardens

  • Enjoy a sip at Holy Vale Vineyard

Cannon at Garrison Walls, St. MarysGarrison Walls

With a history spanning over 350 years, visiting Garrison Walls isn’t just a great way to learn about the history of St. Marys and Scilly but also explore the magical island. The walls form one of the most remarkable and impressive coastal defence systems in England. Owned and maintained by English Heritage, Garrison Walls is free to enter, and you can explore the walls at any reasonable time during daylight hours, so you aren’t restricted by short opening hours and can work a visit around your cruise docking time.

The Isles of Scilly were considered vulnerable to attacks in the 15th and 16th centuries and therefore, measures were taken to try and defend the island which is when the walls and cannon emplacements were built. Although the defences were somewhat neglected over the lengthy history, they still stand proud today and are a wonderful experience for anyone visiting the island.

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Porthcressa Beach

Situated on the southern side of the island, Porthcressa Beach is located near the capital of Hugh Town and is in Porthcressa Bay. The fine white sandy beach and turquoise waters are the perfect spot for a port-day paddle or sunbathe and offer a tranquil and peaceful setting to relax and unwind. The beach is backed by a promenade where there are toilets, seating and a small café for those who want to enjoy a coffee or slice of cake.

View of the tomb of Bant’s CarnBant's Carn Burial Chamber and Halangy Down Ancient Village

St. Marys is full of historic sites and tales of days gone by, but not many date back as far as Bant's Carn Burial Chamber and Halangy Down Ancient Village. Bant’s Carn is a Bronze Age entrance-grave tomb that dates back almost 4,000 years!

The tomb lies on the crest of the hill in St Marys and looks over the coastline of the island. On the slopes below lies the later Iron Age settlement of Halangy Down which you can still see the foundations of to this day. Similarly to Garrison Walls, Bant’s Carn is managed by English Heritage and is free to enter if you’re visiting the island.

View of plants in Carreg Dhu GardensCarreg Dhu Gardens

If a slice of peace and tranquillity is what you’re after on your stopover in St. Marys, then look no further than Carreg Dhu Gardens. These sub-tropical community gardens are situated near Longstone Terrace in the centre of the island and sit colourfully on the location of an old quarry.

Covering 1.5 acres, the gardens are a bloom of colourful plants, from massive purple echiums to pink Madeira geraniums, as well as a segregated area for the Historic Narcissus Collection. Tended to solely by volunteers, entry is completely free, and the gardens can be easily reached from either Hugh Town or Old Town.

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Holy Vale Vineyard

If you’re looking to get stuck into the wonderful food and drink on offer in St. Marys, then locals and tourists alike will recommend Holy Vale Wines. Situated at Star Castle, Holy Vale Vineyard makes a selection of fine wines and offers summer wine tasting sessions as well as selling it alongside food and other tipples in the restaurant and bar.

Not only are you invited to enjoy the delicious selection of drinks, but visitors are also allowed to meander the stunning vineyards, learn about the wine making process, or join one of the guided tours which happen between Monday and Friday.

If your upcoming cruise stops in St. Marys, or you’re planning a cruise holiday, then you’ve got a lot to look forward to. For more articles and guides that’ll inspire your upcoming cruises, then make sure you explore our blog.

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