Top 10 ideas for your family holiday on Tresco Island

Holiday Tots Tresco

Tresco Island is the second biggest island of the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall, England. It is an idyllic holiday destination of unspoilt beauty, with turquoise sea, sandy beaches and secluded coves. You could quite easily be fooled into thinking you were somewhere far more exotic than the UK. (For child-friendly holiday properties on Tresco Island visit our website).


The island is located 28 miles south west of Land’s End, Cornwall and benefits from a relatively mild climate (all year round). Your journey begins before you even arrive whether by boat or plane…

Tresco Island is very much an  island for families wishing to holiday but also all the businesses and homes on the island are run by the Dorrien-Smith family who still live in Tresco Abbey today.

There is a real family-friendly vibe on the island with a strong community spirit: there are about 150 island residents (not including the wildlife!) with some families having lived  here for many generations.

There really is something for everyone on Tresco, the island is famed for its beauty and you cannot help but be impressed….

Here’s our top 10 things to do on Tresco Island with the family


Beaches galore

The beaches offer a mixture of white sand gently shelving into the sea; quiet coves to rugged coast line with rock pools. So it is ideal for sand castle building, paddling or foraging for crabs and sea life.



Bikes are the primary transport on Tresco and are available to hire. There are bicycles to suit all ages and also children’s trailers available. Explore the island on wheels and no need to lock it up either!


Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco’s Abbey Garden is a sub-tropical garden home to thousands of exotic plants. There is an extraordinary diverse selection of plant life within the garden from all over the world. The hotter drier terraces at the top of the garden are ideal for plants from South Africa and Australia where the lower down plants favour flora from South America and New Zealand. Even the most uneducated botanist will be impressed. The amazing thing is that less than 30 miles away on the Cornish mainland many of these plants wouldn’t stand a chance of survival, even at winter solstice more than 300 plants will be in flower! Good news for an out of season break – weather-wise!

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Boat trips

Boat trips on Tresco are a must! There are regular shuttle trips for a little ‘Scilly Island hopping’. Alternatively explore Scilly’s hidden coves, private deserted beaches or try your hand at fishing either by hiring a private boat or joining one of the many guided tours. (Island Sea Safaris also offer rib excursions but these are not suitable for very young children). If sailing is your thing why not hire a dingy for the whole family or take a lazy trip in a Kayak. Whatever you are after the local sail boat club have an assortment of boats to choose from that are ideal for all ages.


Tresco and Bryher Rowing Club

Every Friday and Wednesday night (from May to September) you can cheer on the Tresco and Bryher Rowing club in their traditional races from Nut Rock to St Mary’s quay, pick a team and scream as loudly as you like!



The giant pool surrounding Tresco is perfect if you don’t mind a little chill! Alternatively there are plenty of swimming pools to choose from if the sea proves a little too cold. Take your pick from the indoor swimming pools at the Spa and Sea Garden cottages or two three heated outdoor pools dotted around the island.



The fresh air here is intoxicating and there is no better way to take it all in other than a good old fashioned family stroll! Tresco Island has a network of footpaths to explore with an abundance of nature to take in and a wealth of historical forts and monuments to discover as well as long deserted beaches. A favourite is the walk along the coastal path to Cromwell’s seventeenth century castle located northwest on the island, a short hike up the hill behind will lead you to some fabulous views of the islands and to King Charles Castle.


Bird holes

There are two fresh water pools on the island providing a haven for birds so perfect for birdwatching. Tresco also has three bird hides so if you have an avid bird loving toddler who can sit quiet for a while then this is a must. Or maybe just a visit to the fresh water pools and/or feeding the locals might be enough!


Ruin Beach Café

The Ruin Beach Café offers all day beach dining with fab view and of course wonderful food. It was awarded the Gold Standard by Conde Nast Traveller magazine in 2013. At the heart of the restaurant is the wood-fired oven producing pizzas, roasts and fresh fish as well as baking bread. Open all day, the Ruin Beach Café can offer a buffet breakfast in the morning, lunch, afternoon cakes and dinner.


The New Inn

The New Inn is Tresco’s local friendly pub offering award winning food and drink. It is filled with locals and guests all year round with regular live music, and plays host to the island’s beer and cider festivals. It really is the heart of the island community. You will also be spoilt by its menu choices from the old favourites such as beer-battered fish and chips, New Inn burger or sausage and mash to the Tresco surf and turf: succulent Bryher lobster and chargrilled Tresco beefsteak. Great for families there are baby-change facilities, high chairs, pencils and colouring sheets and a good children’s menu.


And a little for the adults

For a little adult time there is plenty on offer: diving, fishing, cricket and plenty of events held throughout the year including the Tresco Triathlon, Beer Festivals, Art festivals, Cider Festival, Food Festival and more plus…

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Leisure Spa

For adult relaxation, although Tresco has an extraordinary natural environment that is a tonic in itself, the spa will deliver. There is an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, gym, beauty treatment centre and yoga classes. The Spa also manages the astro-turf tennis court bookings if you’re feeling energetic!


There is an assortment of family friendly holiday accommodation on Tresco Island. The New Inn offers bed and breakfast, there are characterful Scillonion cottages available to rent too.


For self-catering holiday cottages that are perfect for families with pre-school children why not take a look at the beautiful Sea Garden Cottages located on the beach offering accommodation for families looking for one to four bedrooms.


Or the Flying Boat Cottages, a collection of contemporary New England style beachfront cottages offering up to four bedrooms.

These child-friendly cottages can be found on our Holiday Tots website too and if you enquire via Holiday Tots, not only do you pay the same as going direct but also get spa membership and free entrance to the Tresco Abbey Gardens (usually £12pp). Tresco is also happy to provide complementary bike hire to all Holiday Tot guests. You can view Tresco’s child friendly holiday accommodation on Holiday Tots here.

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