England, UK, Wanderlust

Isles of Scilly glass bottom boat tour

Confining my daughter to one place for 90 minutes can be risky. Sometimes, getting her to sit still for 90 seconds is tricky enough – and on a boat, where there’s no getting off?

But there were extra temptations to book a glass-bottomed boat tour when we were in the Isles of Scilly: firstly, that glass bottom, so she’d have something to entertain her throughout, second, the chance to see seals, and lastly a visit to St Martin’s, the only inhabited island we hadn’t explored on our Calypso tour or while staying at Tregarthen’s Hotel on St Mary’s.

My daughter looks out towards the sea during our Scilly glass bottom boat tour on our family holiday on the islands

By this point in our trip, the sun had come out again, the waves were calm and it was a fabulous blue sky day to head to the uninhabited islands and rocky outcrops dotted across the Scilly Isles.

There was almost no-one else around, as we cruised towards the Eastern Isles. The occasional sea bird standing on a rock, although sadly we were too late for puffins (which Minnie is convinced are a hybrid mix of penguins and toucans…)

Then we spotted a seal! The excitement was huge (particularly from me). I’ve been on more than a few animal spotting trips where the animals haven’t turned up to be spotted, so I was thrilled to see a seal, lounging on his rock.

A white seal basks on a rock surrounded by deep blue sea during our Scilly glass bottom boat tour

What I hadn’t realised was that he (or she) was only the first. Sleek heads bobbing in the water, their black eyes surveying us curiously, popped up again and again. And on the rocks, colony after colony, slumped in the sun, occasionally lurching their way around into both their fellow rock sharers or into the waves.

A few perched alone, precariously balanced – or so it seemed – on top of a rock. Presumably that cosy blubber meant it’s as comfy as an armchair.

I don’t think I got blase at the sight, even after the umpteenth seal, although Minnie’s miniature attention span had wavered and demanded the stash of stickers in my bag. Still, it meant I got to gaze.

The glass bottom, while fun, doesn’t show a great deal unfortunately – the seas are very clear, so you could get a glimpse of the sandy bottom and (in Minnie’s words) ‘big fat seaweed’ forests, as well as a brief glimpse of some little fish as we docked, but this isn’t the Caribbean after all. Even if St Martin’s did a pretty good job at doubling for its beaches.

My daughter looks through the glass section on the Sea Quest - our Scilly glass bottom boat tour

After lunch in the Sevenstones Inn with its gorgeous views down onto the bay (and pretty gorgeous sandwiches and rose), we headed down to the beach at Lower Town where our boat had docked to dig holes/make sandcastles/paddle (Minnie) or lie in the sun (me).

Then a walk across the island to Higher Town, stopping en route to buy a Cornetto for Minnie and check out the Island Bakery (which had been all but eaten out by the afternoon).

At which point we discovered a spectacular second beach closer to the quay. Sadly there wasn’t much time to do more than take a billion photos of its sheer loveliness, let Minnie get all sandy again while people admired her dinosaur towel and hop back aboard to return to the hotel.

Fortunately, that gives me the perfect excuse to go back!

A view to one of the curving bays on St Martin's - our Scilly glass bottom boat tour included chance to explore the island during our family holiday on the islands

Scilly glass bottom boat tour: Need to know

The Sea Quest leaves St Mary’s at 10.30am and trips run from April to October.

The island stop varies each day, depending on weather and tides, but you should be able to find out the day before. You can also head straight back to St Mary’s if you prefer. Adult tickets cost £23.


Taking a glass bottomed boat tour around the Isles of Scilly, UK, with kids - spotting seals and sea birds from Sea Quest, our Scilly glass bottom boat trip through the eastern Isles and to St Martin's. #scilly #islesofscilly #scillywithkids #scillyboattour #mummytravels

Disclosure: My trip to the Isles of Scilly was courtesy of Tregarthen’s Hotel and Isles of Scilly Travel. The decision to take and pay for the Seaquest trip was my own, as are my opinions and excited attitude to seals.


Images copyright MummyTravels