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  • Writer's pictureAnna Browne

Our top four routes for a one hour kayak hire on the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly is the perfect location to hire a kayak. Clear waters, calm seas, amazing marine life and so many stunningly beautiful sandy beaches. I’m often asked ‘how long should I hire for?’. Knowing how wonderful it is to be out on the water, I would always say as long as possible! But, if you only have a limited amount of time, here are my four top routes for a one hour kayak hire to get you out experiencing the beauty and tranquillity of Scilly from the water.

1 - Along the front of St Martin’s

A woman is in a kayak by Old Quay on St Martin's

This route is ideal if you’re a first-time kayaker as you’ll be staying close to the shore at all times. Begin by paddling away from Par Beach on St Martin's, through the boat moorings then out around the Higher Town Quay. Always give the quay a very wide berth as it’s a working quay. From here, paddle along the rocky coastline keeping St Martin’s on your right. You’ll be paddling over a sandy seabed with patches of rocks and seaweed. Looking down into the shallow water you can see fish, crabs, anemones and even prawns.

Your next point of interest is Old Quay which is a very popular landmark on St Martin’s. You get a completely different perspective viewing it from the sea. There are many rocky outcrops and ledges along the front of St Martin’s which are great to explore. The closest one to Old Quay is Pig’s Ledge.

After 30 minutes of paddling, retrace your route and head back to Par Beach.

2 - See seals on your one hour kayak hire

A kayaker is watching a grey seal which is in the water behind the kayak

You can often see seals while out on a kayak. Head away from Par Beach, out through the boat moorings, heading toward the uninhabited island of Nornour. It takes about 25 minutes to paddle out to this island. Nornour means ‘facing the mainland’ in Cornish. As you approach the island you will paddle over large beds of seaweed. Peering down into these feels like you’re flying over an underwater forest.

Atlantic grey seals can often be seen in the waters off Nornour and it’s neighbouring island Great Ganilly. If you’re lucky enough to see these beautiful creatures, don’t chase after them or change your course. Just keep paddling, they’re naturally inquisitive and, if you’re lucky, may follow your kayak.

After 30 minutes head back to St Martin’s.

3 - Ganilly Sandbar

Two kayaks are pulled up on a beautiful sandbar on a calm sunny day

Ganilly Sandbar is one of the most magical places on the Isles of Scilly. It’s the perfect location for a one hour kayak hire as it’s just a 15-minute gentle paddle from Par Beach. The reason it’s so magical is that it’s only exposed around two hours either side of low tide. After that, it’s covered by the sea until the next low water.

You can land on the sandbar and there is literally nothing there but sand. It feels like you’re on your very own desert islands and is a popular spot for proposals! There are great views across to the island of Tresco. We’re always happy to provide advice about the best time to hire to be able to get to the sandbar.

4 - A trip around Little Ganilly

There is the beautiful white sandy beach on the island of Little Arthur

My final recommendation is to kayak past a beautiful beach hidden from view from Par Beach. Head out towards the island of Little Ganilly, again giving Higher Town Quay a wide berth. Heading towards the island you’ll paddle over large areas of seagrass. Sea grass is the only flowering plant to grow in the sea and is a habitat for sea horses! As you get closer to Little Ganilly you can see the beautiful beach on Little Arthur. It’s my favourite place for a picnic. Sometimes, you’ll also see grey seals in this area.

Keep paddling and keep the island on Little Ganilly on your left, then head back towards St Martin’s. if your one hour kayak hire is around the time of low water you’ll also kayak past the Ganilly Sandbar

So there are my four recommendations for a one hour kayak hire from St Martin's.

To me, you can never spend enough time out on the water. However, if your time is limited, one of these routes is for you. It will give you a real flavour of the fun you can have out on the water on the Isles of Scilly.

Maybe next time you'll be able to hire for longer. This would give you time to land on and explore four uninhabited islands. Check out my blog on the five best beaches to kayak to for more inspiration.

St Martin's Watersports hire kayaks and paddleboards from St Martin's on the Isles of Scilly. Please contact us if you have any questions about hiring. You can book your one hour kayak hire here.


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