Are you looking to explore a place that is truly special, somewhere that is so close yet so far and detached from manic city life, a real haven in which to slow down, switch off and relax. Somewhere where children can run around, free and wild and without the fair of busy roads or technology overload and a place where nature is just a few feet away at all times. Than the island of St Martins in the Isles of Scilly is a must for your bucket list this year, in fact I encourage everyone to visit this beautiful archipelago off the Cornish coast at least once in their lives. St Martins is less than 1 square mile and has a population of around 130 but believe me there is still plenty to do here.
|On the ferry from St Mary's to St Martins|
Admittedly it's not the easiest place to get too at times, you may have read my post about travelling to the Isles of Scilly but it's isolated position is what makes it the most exotic staycation you will ever have in the UK and I would do it all again in a flash.
So why St Martins and not one of the other four inhabited islands? Well during our time on Scilly we visited Tresco and it's amazing Abbey Gardens as well as spending two nights on the biggest island St Mary's which the locals often refer to as the "mainland" and has a vibrant but slightly busier feel despite having less than 2000 inhabitants. We sailed past Bryher, the smallest island which we would love to go back and explore & St Agnes, the most far flung island of them all, we simply didn't have time to get too.
St Martin however just felt right, not too big, not too small with beautiful white sand beaches, car free roads, a small pub, cafe, bakery and island shop which is all you ever really need plus a few different options when it comes to accommodation from the island campsite or private self catering or the luxury Karma Hotel which is where we stayed.
From the moment we arrived we couldn't wait to explore our surroundings and Karma was a great base for that with a stunning beach just a few feet away from the hotel which looks out across the other islands. We discovered a variety of sea life on the beaches from crabs to a jellyfish and couldn't get over how clear the water was. Also the whole time we were there we didn't come across any litter at all and it even though it was a "busy" time of the year we often found ourselves to be the only ones on the beach which is a real luxury in the UK.
During our time on St Martins we enjoyed some al fresco picnics on the beach, a sunset bbq at the hotel as well as a delicious lunch at The Seven Stones pub which has a raised position on the side of a hill overlooking the bay, it's truly dining with a view. The lunch menu was small but perfectly formed and packed with fresh dishes using mainly locally sourced ingredients with the salads being island grown. I opted for a giant cous-cous and halloumi salad and John went for a traditional ploughman with freshly island baked bread.
We also popped into Polreath Tea Rooms on the way back from a day spent at the beach and it was such a quiet spot to sit and relax in the tea room gardens filled with mediterranean flowers such as proteas and succulents while the kids ran around enjoying ice-cream while John and I shared one of their famous chocolate brownies.
|Waiting for the Island ferry on St Martins|
If you do ever find yourself on St Martins and I hope you do, Karma also has a fantastic lunch and evening menu and if your looking for something a little bit more formal and special this is the place to go, we enjoyed our last evening here with our table overlooking the beach and quay where you get the water taxi back to St Mary's.
The islands are incredible safe, in fact it is said to be the "place the crime forgot" and there is in fact a serve yourself organic vegetable stand as well as little craft donation booths for the local school.
In terms of outdoor pursuits you are really spoilt for choice here as you can pretty much explore the whole island on foot, with an array of paths and trails to follow around the coast line to the Daymark and prehistoric cairns. If you time the tides right you can walk over to White Island at low tide, it's an uninhabited island and has been designated a site of Special Scientific Interest.
You can also indulge in the simple things such as walking along the coast barefoot, searching for seashells and of course also take a dip in the clear blue water and if your more adventurous there is an variety of water spots on offer such as kayaking from one island to another, paddle boarding, snorkelling and diving to name a few.
During our few days spent on the island we experienced all different types of weather from drizzle, overcast to clear blue skies and sunshine and this didn't make any difference to how magical these islands are and they make for the perfect family getaway. Every minute you are there you want to soak up the atmosphere and stunning views you get from pretty much anywhere you stand on St Martins. While there is limited wifi at a few spots in St Martins you really won't mind not being connected because the pace is far slower and there is simply no need to be looking at a screen when you can look out across the ocean.
You can arrange travel to the Isles of Scilly by either Sky Bus, a quick flight from three different airports or the Scillonian ferry with Isles of Scilly Travel