When Prince William became the new Prince of Wales last year, the title was not his only acquisition from the new monarch.
His father, King Charles, also passed the 130,000-acre duchy of Cornwall to his eldest son, making the 41-year-old Britain’s biggest private landowner, with £1.2 billion in 23 counties.
His impressive portfolio of assets includes farms, housing developments, seven forts, forests, coastlines and commercial properties.
But it also owns about 200 of the Isles of Scilly and the reefs off the Cornish coast, which are home to about a third of the five inhabited islands of St. Marys, Tresco, St. Martins, St. Agnes and Bryghar.
They may look like a tropical paradise, but the Isles of Scilly lie 28 miles off the Cornish coast (Image: Neptune’s Steps in Tresco Abbey Gardens)
Tresco (pictured) is perhaps the most famous and most well-organized of the five inhabited islands – although it is smaller than St Mary’s.
The Isles of Scilly are owned by the Prince of Wales, who vacations there with his family (Image: Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte vacationing in Tresco in 2020)
The archipelago, just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, has been described as Britain’s answer to the Maldives, thanks to the islands’ talcum-powder-white sand and crystal clear blue waters.
They can be reached by boat – the Ceylon III ferry that takes about three hours across the cut waters from Penzance – or by helicopter.
Those planning to fly can get a helicopter from Penzance to St Mary’s or Tresco Island in just 15 minutes.
Alternatively, flying will take you to St. Mary’s, which is the largest of the islands (though still the smallest at only three miles long and one mile wide).
From there, boats can take you to other islands, which have a total of about 5,000 tourist beds and are therefore never crowded.
This makes it the perfect getaway for those looking for secluded walks, cycling routes, quiet pubs and beaches.
Travelers to the island will be in good company.
Prince William, whose duchy is given a single daffodil a year by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, has holidayed at Tresco on several occasions.
As a young man, he was pictured on a trip there in 1989 with Princess Diana, Prince Charles and his brother Prince Harry.
Appletree Bay (pictured) is one of Tresco’s prettiest beaches, boasting icing sugar white sand and crystal waters.
The archipelago lies just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. Holidaymakers can travel to the islands by boat, helicopter or plane
A photograph of the break captured seven-year-old William as he prepared to go for a bike ride with his family, with Diana standing behind him in a fuchsia jumper.
Since then, he has moved back in with his wife Kate and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
In 2016, William and Kate made a brief trip to Tresco, promising the prince that he would return soon.
During the 2020 pandemic, the family of five chose a location to help the UK travel industry, spending a week in July at the six-bedroom Dolphin House in Tresco, then owned by Charles.
And they are said to return to the Isles of Scilly in October for a week before holidaying there again next year.
However, many may find St. Mary’s a good place to start.
Described as looking like a seaside town in the 1940s, the island’s main street is lined with small independent shops, cafes and galleries.
And art is a key focus, with holidaymakers able to source local art and ceramic pieces at Phoenix craft workshops.
The coastline offers a pleasant walk, with sheltered coves and rocky crevices and fields of wildflowers dotting the landscape. An inland walk will bring you to Carrag Wash Gardens.
Those spending one or more nights on St. Mary’s can stay at the Star Castle Hotel on the island’s highest point.
A stroll through picturesque St. Mary’s will feel like you’ve stepped back in time
The Star Castle Hotel (pictured) is a 16th-century hotel in St. Mary’s, offering modern touches like its heated swimming pool and tennis court.
Carrag Dhu (pictured) gardens in the center of St Mary’s offer lovely explorations for holidaymakers.
It may date back to the 16th century, but offers modern touches, including a heated swimming pool and tennis courts.
Island hopping is the best way to get to know the ceilidhs, and tripper boats that take around 15-20 minutes to reach their various destinations, offer just that.
Although Tresco is not the largest of the five inhabited islands, it is considered the most well-developed.
There are many activities to enjoy, from crabbing on the picturesque beach to enjoying a bike ride, or simply strolling along the winding lanes, with blue waters always in sight.
Tresco Island’s Green Port Beach (pictured) showcases the best of the island – with icing sugar sand and turquoise waters.
The clear waters of Pentle Bay, Tresco (pictured) look like they could be in a far exotic location
To the south of Tresco can be found the subtropical Tresco Abbey Gardens (pictured), among the ruins of a Benedictine priory.
Tresco Abbey Gardens (pictured) features tropical-looking plants, including towering palms and oversized succulents.
Prince William, right, and Prince Harry, sons of the Prince and Princess of Wales, cycle to Tresco during a holiday in 1989
Prince William (pictured, right) and his wife Kate Middleton (pictured, left) visited Tresco for a quick trip in September 2016
The subtropical Tresco Abbey Gardens, found among the ruins of a Benedictine priory, lie in the south of the island.
It boasts towering New Zealand palms, red squirrels and colorful oversized succulents.
And the garden is also home to the Valhalla Museum, which displays a collection of figureheads collected from shipwrecks around the islands.
Just strolling through the gardens offers many interesting sights, from a carved head of Neptune sitting at the top of the crushed granite steps to a beautiful shell grotto.
And when you work up an appetite, wood-fired pizzas, seafood platters and crab linguine are on the menu at the beachfront Ruin Beach Cafe.
While the entire archipelago offers jaw-dropping views, St. Maarten is particularly known for its breathtaking scenery.
It’s just a 20-minute walk from the pier to its best beaches in the east of the island, at Great Bay and Little Bay, where you can take in the magnificent blue waters.
It is a quiet place, with a slow pace of life, a single hotel (called Karma), a handful of cottages and just one shop.
Saint Martin in the Isles of Scilly (as seen from the air) is particularly well known for its impressive scenery.
St. Martin Cormer Bar Area – The only hotel on the island, with only one shop and a few cottages
Stargazing at Cosmos, St. Martin’s Community Observatory, is one of the best activities on offer on the tiny island.
St. Agnes (pictured) is another of the five inhabited islands, and like the others, offers attractive beaches.
Royal favourite: The then Duchess of Cornwall and Prince of Wales visit St Agnes Island in July 2015
Bryher (pictured from Tresco) is the smallest of the inhabited islands, but worth a visit for its rugged scenery.
A refreshing swim in the ocean, or a leisurely stroll are enjoyable ways to pass the time, but one of the best activities on St. Martin is stargazing at the island’s community observatory Cosmos.
Meanwhile, St. Agnes offers attractive beaches – Periglis Beach is a top place to visit. If you wait for low tide, you can walk to the small island of Gugh.
Bryher is the smallest of the inhabited islands, but its size doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.
Its rugged scenery and secluded windswept beaches are definitely worth a trip, as is its Hamptons-style clapper-board hotel Hale Bay.
The crashing waves of the Atlantic will lull you into a deep sleep, before you’re refreshed for another day of island hopping.