The beautiful “paradise” islands where wealthy Londoners snap up second homes

Sparkling turquoise seas, soft golden sand that wraps around the islands like an old ring and a quiet presence of a story that includes visits from the Phoenicians, references from the ancient Greeks and his own role in Cornish legends of the king Arthur.

Brightly colored exotic wildflowers bloom year-round; palm trees sway in the Atlantic breeze.

And due to its position in the Gulf Stream, these islands are the warmest part of the UK.

READ MORE: London Stansted Airport: The beautiful island paradise you can get a return flight to for just £11

The Isles of Scilly, which on a summer’s day seem more Mediterranean than West Country, have long been a well-kept secret favorite of London second home owners.

Cornwall and Devon are the obvious mainstays of the ‘get in the car’ group, we’re spending this sunny holiday out of town.

On any given spring weekend, Salcombe, Devon and Penzance, Cornwall may look more like the streets of Notting Hill than the Celtic nation it’s proud to be, with Instagram geotags and magazines on glossy paper to prove it.

Yet the Isles of Scilly, which are largely only accessible from the mainland via Cornwall by boat, join the two south-west counties in the amount of properties that are second homes: a shocking 30%, according to the association local governments.



St Mary’s Harbor at dawn, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, England. Credit: Getty Images

But with the rugged beauty that characterizes this part of the world so much, with untouched jagged cliffs overlooking pristine white sand beaches bathed in golden sunshine, it is easy to see why there is such demand for a home in these islands: and even easier to understand why locals and second home owners are keeping it a secret.

‘We can walk into the dark and see thousands of stars in an unbroken night sky,’ Emily and Don Crees, owners of The Seven Stones Inn, Lower Town, say of the Isles of Scilly in Coast Magazine.

“We couldn’t believe we were still in the UK,” they add.

Hugh Town is the islands largest settlement, located on St. Mary’s Island.



Tresco is renowned for its lush climate and its ability to grow tropical plants due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. Credit: Getty Images

In Hugh Town, the activities on offer reflect the slow and pleasant pace of the islands: apart from the gardens of Tresco Abbey, most attractions include admiring the ancient ruins of civilizations past, soaking in the sun on the many beaches and their more plentiful restaurants and cafes, in which seafood menus reflect the fresh seafood the island’s fishermen bring in daily.

And on all the islands there are plenty of sea activities, including opportunities for canoeing, sailing, swimming or just sunbathing.

It is, in essence, the perfect getaway.

But as tempting as it is to grab what remains of property, it will be difficult: and the culprit is surprising.



Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge travel by boat to St Martins on September 2, 2016 in the Isles of Scilly, England. (Photo by Peter Nicholls – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall, owns the Duchy of Cornwall, which comprises around 300 houses.

Moreover, the Prince is not the only man to lay claim to the lands of Scilly.

Tresco, the second largest of the islands, is owned and run by Robert Dorrien-Smith, who inherited the land through his family, first leased it to the Duchy in 1834.

They don’t sell their properties and don’t seem to have any intention of doing so, although they do offer cabin rentals.



13th October 2021. Canopies of trees and entrance road with lush green foliage to Tresco Abbey, Tresco Gardens, Isle of Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Credit: Getty Images


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And while the duchy says its intentions are to promote affordable housing for islanders, it can’t be easy.

Demand for second homes on these British paradise islands has seen the highest number of second homes per capita in all of England and Wales, apart from the City of London.

In fact, at present there is only one listing on Rightmove in all of the Isles of Scilly: a simple building plot, for sale for £150,000.

But don’t let that put you off visiting the islands, which are classified as Areas of Outstanding Beauty.

Instead, look to hotels and properties available for short-term rental, for the opportunity to feel the ocean breeze again, without ever having to leave the country.

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