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  • Writer's pictureAnna Browne

How to travel to St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly, for your water sports hire

St Martin’s is the perfect location for a water sports hire. The beautiful sheltered sweep of Par Beach is the ideal location for first-time kayakers and paddle boarders. Paddling along the shoreline of St Martin’s on a kayak or a paddleboard will give you a unique perspective of the island. If you want more of a kayaking adventure, head out to explore the uninhabited Eastern Isles, Tean or Tresco.

There are five inhabited islands that make up the Isles of Scilly. We’re often asked if you have to stay on St Martin’s to hire from us. The simple answer is no. There are tripper boats that regularly come over from the other islands. Our tripper boats are the equivalent of public transport on the mainland.

If you’re a first-time visitor however, it can appear a little confusing working out which boats leave from what island, when and to where.

In this blog, we’ll explain how to get to St Martin’s for your water sports hire if you’re staying on another island. We also include our top tips for inter-island boating like a local. 

A tripper boat called Kingfisher coming along side Lower Town Quay

St Mary’s to St Martin’s

The island of St Mary’s is the largest of all the islands and is the primary hub of the Isles of Scilly. There is one quay on St Mary’s where the tripper boats leave from. It is possible to get a boat to St Martin’s several times a day. The St Mary’s Boatmen's Association offers this service. There are 10 boats in the Association fleet and a different boat will come up to St Martin’s each day – there’s no set ‘St Martin’s’ boat. 

Two boat boards advertise the boat times. One is on St Mary’s quay, the second is on the wall next to the Atlantic pub in Hugh Town. You can also find boating information for the day on the St Mary’s Boatmen's Association Facebook page. The St Martin’s community website has this information plus the following days boating times.

There are boats to St Martin’s at 10:15 and 14:00 daily. In high summer, there will often be another boat around 11:15. There is also an 0845 boat on Mondays to Saturdays. So, if you want to book a day hire you can easily get to us for when we open at 09:30.

A large tripper boat called Seahorse alongside Higher Town Quay on St Martin's

You can buy tickets for the tripper boats from the small ticket kiosk on St Mary’s quay, next to the boat board. Tickets cost £6.75 each way. You can also pay for tickets on board with cash or card. If you are going to be doing a lot of boating on your holiday, you can save money by bulk buying 10 return tickets and getting a discount

You don’t have to pre-book to travel on the tripper boats. Also, don’t worry about there not being enough space on the boat. As they are an Association, if the boat to your island is full, they simply put another boat on so that everyone can get to where they want to go.

It takes about 25 minutes to get to St Martin’s from St Mary’s. We have two quays on St Martin’s, Higher Town quay and Lower Town quay. We are based opposite Higher Town quay and are a 30-minute stroll from Lower Town quay. The state of the tide will dictate which quay the boats will operate from. 

The return times for the boats from St Mary’s are 14:30, 15:45 and 16:45. In early and late summer return times are 14:30 and 16:30. Remember, you could depart from a different quay!

Tresco and Bryher to St Martin’s

If you’re staying on Tresco or Bryher and want to head over to St Martin’s for your water sports hire, then there is a scheduled boat every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is the Firethorn and leaves at approximately 11:00 on those days. Tresco Boat Services run this boat.

You can find information about boating on Tresco, on boat screens at the Island Office and the Ruin Café. There are boat boards on Bryher, by the phone box museum in ‘town’ and at Bank Cottage on the road down to Great Par. You can also find out boat times on the Tresco website and Facebook page. There are three quays on Tresco and two quays on Bryher.

The tripper boat from Tresco with the Eastern Isles in the background

The cost of a single journey on the Firethorn is £7 per person. Under 14s are half price and under 3’s travel for free.

It takes about half an hour to get to St Martin’s. You don’t need to pre-book on this boat. You can pay on board with either cash or card.

The boat returns from St Martin’s at 16:30. Again this could be from a different quay to where you landed.

If you wanted to come over on another day Tresco Boats offer a ‘special’ service. This is using one of their jet boats which will take approximately 15 minutes from either island. These have to be booked in advance, will carry a maximum of 12 passengers and cost £55 each way. 

Coming from St Agnes for your water sports hire

There is a scheduled boat from St Agnes to St Martin’s one day a week. The day can vary but generally it will be Tuesday or Thursday. There is only one quay on St Agnes and the boat leaves at 10:15.

The boats cost £7.00 each way, children under 16 travel half price and they have a special family fare of £36. Payment for these trips is by card only. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get over from St Agnes. The return time is 16:00. Once again, remember this could be from a different quay from where you landed.

The tripper boat from St Agnes coming alongside Higher Town Quay on St Martin's Isles of Scilly

You can find boating information on the St Agnes Boating website and Facebook page. Boat times also go up on a boat board next to the Post Office on St Agnes. There is also a St Agnes boating app, where you can make bookings and check boat times, see your booked trips, etc.

St Agnes Boating offer the option of buying a weekly boating pass. If you know you want to do lots of boating as part of your holiday, this will save you money.

It is also possible to book a special with St Agnes boating if you wanted to come over on a specific day. You can book this via their website and journeys will take 30 minutes each way.

Our top tips for boating like a local

  • Boat times can change because of tides and weather so make sure you check the departure time the night before your trip

  • Remember to listen to the announcements on board the boat so you know which quay your return boat will leave from.

  • If you know you want to do lots of boating on your holiday, save money by bulk buying tickets from St Mary’s or purchasing a weekly boat pass from St Agnes

  • Ask our advice if you want to know which quay your boat will land on. We can look at the tide tables and tell you which quay it’s likely to be.

  • It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk between the quays on St Martin’s so do factor that into your hire times. Don’t forget to change the default start time when booking your water sports hire online. If you do accidentally book the wrong start time, we’re always happy to amend your booking

You don’t have to be staying on St Martin’s to enjoy a water sports hire with us. It’s easy to get across from the other islands. You can book your kayak or paddleboard hire to fit in with the boating times from other islands. We’re always happy to help you with this. 

If you’re looking for inspiration on where to explore, we have many suggestions for you. We’ve written blogs on our top 5 beaches to kayak to, a paddleboard tour of St Martin’s and, our top four one hour kayak hire routes.  

A beautiful paddling experience awaits you on St Martin’s. Your adventure starts on the boat over!


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