As we strolled barefoot along the pristine white sandy beach, we felt as though we had arrived on a private Caribbean island only without the long haul flight.

But what is truly amazing is that this tropical-looking paradise is actually part of the UK. It’s less than 30-miles off the Cornish coast in fact.

It’s only when we paddled in the clear azure water that we realised that we weren’t in the tropics, but the Atlantic Ocean – as the water is, er, refreshing to say the least!

We spent a long weekend on Tresco, a family-owned island measuring just two and half miles long and a mile wide – one of the five inhabited islands which, together with 200 or so islands, islets and rocks, form the Isles of Scilly.

Although small, the privately owned island offers an extraordinary variety of landscape ranging from well-manicured lawns and woodland to rugged heathland and rocky coastal paths.

If you’re a garden enthusiast you may know that Tresco is home to the world-famous Abbey Gardens, a 17-acre sub-tropical paradise. Although it was mid-September, we felt as if we had travelled back to high summer as everything was in full bloom because of the temperate climate.

But the best thing about Tresco is the fact there are no cars. The only motorised vehicles allowed are golf buggies and tractors. Most people either walk or cycle. We hired bikes for the weekend and it was wonderful to explore on such safe, quiet roads.

When it comes to accommodation, there is plenty of choice from self-catering cottages, to timeshares, bed & breakfast and specially-tailored packages.

We spent the first night at The New Inn, the island’s only pub which offers a four-star bed and breakfast with an outdoor heated pool and an AA rosette restaurant where we had surf ’n’ turf – locally sourced Tresco fillet steak with locally sourced lobster which was superb.

We spent the next two nights in one of the stunning Sea Garden Cottages just yards from the shoreline with spacious, open-plan living areas and private decks overlooking the water.

Tresco has plenty to offer considering its size. We were hoping to hire kayaks but the sailing centre was closed for the season, but there is a small art gallery, an island spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, two gyms and the ruins of a 17th-century castle to explore.

One of the highlights or our trip was dining at The Ruin Beach Café which has the best setting of any restaurant I have ever seen.

Situated in the picture perfect area of Old Grimsby, just a short stroll from our sea cottage, it is perched on the shoreline and offers superb local seafood and fantastic pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. This is now one of my favourite places to eat in the world!

All in all Tresco was a revelation. I would never have believed such a tranquil, exotic retreat was just a short flight from Land’s End.

And just getting there is half the fun. We flew in a 16-seater airbus which felt like a private jet. After 20 minutes we touched down in St Mary’s and were then transported across the sea by a high speed rib to Tresco where we hopped onto a tractor-towed carriage and taken to our accommodation. What a novel way to start a long weekend adventure. Well worth a visit.


The New Inn prices: Prices start from £55 per person per night for bed & breakfast, based on two sharing.

Sea Garden Cottages prices: One-bedroom cottages can be rented by the night from £160pppn.

Larger cottages (sleeping 6-10) are available from £1615 per week.

For the Tresco Estate office visit or call 01720 422849 or email Isles of Scilly Travel:; 0845 710 5555