Welcome to Tresco, the second largest place in the Isles of Scilly. The population is around 150-200 people, so it is sufficiently quiet to enjoy a laid back island experience, whilst there is certainly plenty to do. Indeed Tresco is perfect for historical explorers, with its own abbey, medieval monastery, church and castle. With a range of activities and accommodations available, you can combine comfortability with seclusion, and natural beauty with activity.

This introductory guide just aims to give you a brief overview of things you might like to know before travelling to Tresco, such as its history, main features, accommodation, things to do, dining facilities and more. Shall we begin?



Tresco is run as a time-share business by the Dorrien-Smith family, leasing it from the Duchy of Cornwall administering it – in turn – for the crown. The family were Lord Proprietors of the Scilly Isles from 1834 to 1920. Once upon a time, Tresco was given by King Henry I to Tavistock Abbey which established a priory there (abolished at the Reformation).

But history is not only in the past, it is experienced in the present. This is certainly the case at Tresco, where you can visit a castle dating from the English Civil War, an abbey and an Anglican church.


Tresco has featured in various cultural outlets, including a number of books and films. Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo mentions Tresco many times, for instance, whilst it was also the focus of the BBC’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In addition, Blonde filmed a music video there and it was the site of the film Archipelago. Such exposure as this has certainly promoted the Scilly Isles to prospective tourists and Tresco’s literary and cinematic appeal is undeniable.


You can travel to Tresco through Bryher Boats, which offers easy access to and from the other islands. You can fly to Tresco by helicopter from Penzance or, if coming from the mainland by ferry or plane, you will need to arrive via St Mary’s island. When you reach Tresco you will find that no cars are allowed, only farm tractors and golf carts. Do not despair, though, for it is a beautiful place in which to walk and bicycle hire is on offer.

Nature and Wildlife

Like all the Scilly Isles, Tresco is a truly beautiful place with lovely beaches and wonderful surroundings. The image at the top of this page is an aerial view of Tresco, so you can see that this description is no understatement. Abbey Garden (known as ‘Kew without the glass’) is home to 20,000 species and many rare plants, whilst many migratory birds visit the Great Pool. For the natural beauty alone, Tresco evidently makes a lovely holiday destination.


What is there to do on Tresco? Cycling, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, swimming, boating and walking will satisfy your active side, whilst the Gallery and Garden take care of cultural and botanical interests respectively. You can dine at the Garden Cafe, sun bathe on the beaches, paddle in rock pools and relax in the privacy of your accommodation. If you did get bored on Tresco, then there are always other islands to visit. Bryher, St Agnes and the others await your presence!


As well as beach front houses, sea view cottages, an Inn, camp site and hotel, there are various other self-catering properties available. In other words, there is a range of accommodation to suit different tastes and budgets. The Tresco Estate is operated by the Dorrien-Smith family, who run these rentals as a time share business as well.

Thank you for reading this introductory guide to some of the main features and attractions of Tresco. If you would like to learn more about the Isles of Scilly, please have a look at St Martin’s island or St Agnes island.