Visit, Eat, Stay near St Michael’s Mount
Of course, iconic is an overused word, but in the case of St Michael’s Mount, it is accurate and fitting. From the minute you turn the corner and begin the approach to the ancient market town of Marazion, you can’t fail to experience a sense of awe at the island shimmering in the distance. It oozes history, magic, myth and legend, and offers a perfect half-day of exploring.
Still home to the St Aubyn family, as well as a small community, this iconic rocky island is crowned by a medieval church and castle – with the oldest buildings dating from the 12th century.
Getting there – by foot or by boat?
If the tide is out…
Your journey starts on Marazion beach. At low tide, setting out from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms, it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobble causeway which stretches from the mainland to the island.
The St Michael’s Mount website has a useful timetable of when the tide times allow for walking across.
When the tide is in…
When the tide is in, regular boats take visitors back and forth from St Michael’s Mount every day for a small fee (£2.00 each way, £1.00 for children).
Once you’re on the island, it’s a steep ten minute climb up the cobbled pathway to the medieval castle where you can wander century-old corridors and witness architecture dating back to the 12th century. You’ll also find a medieval church dedicated to St Michael, which is still used for Sunday services, a museum, galleries and stunning views across Mount’s Bay to Penzance.
Explore the subtropical gardens
Many visitors are astonished that a garden exists here, but despite the gales and salty winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate so frosts are a rarity and the rock acts like a gigantic radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night creating – a micro climate in which all sorts of unlikely plants flourish. Puya, agave and aloe rear out of the bedrock, agapanthus wave their heavy heads, and binding threads of rosemary, lavender and coronilla tumble down the terraces.
Taking the children?
There is plenty to keep the young ones entertained including a family castle quiz with prizes, a hunt for a giant’s stone heart, and Island Guides telling tales of history, legend and what makes this castle so special.
On the Island The Sail Loft is a licensed café offering light lunches and home made cakes while The Island Café serves light bites, pasties and coffees. On Marazion beach The Godolphin Arms has unbeatable views and a good quality, wide ranging menu from burgers to fish and chips and fresh seafood.
For a really special lunch time treat or evening meal, the award-winning Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion has been exciting food critics across the country, and well worth a visit.
An historic market town, Marazion today is a lively place with a plethora of high quality cafes, pubs and art galleries. The South West Coastal Path runs through the town and the RSPB nature reserve is home to Cornwall’s largest reed bed and an abundance of plants and birds.
Marazion beach has a spectacular view of St Michael’s Mount and Mount’s Bay. Simply relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere of this enchanting beach is pleasure enough, but windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing and sailing are all on offer.
The long sandy beach is safe, and there are rock pools to explore around Chapel Rock and Marazion Harbour, and a large play park situated just above the beach.
Opening times and prices
The castle, shops and cafes are open Sunday to Friday (closed Saturday) from 15 March until 1 November 2015. The garden is open from 20 April to 25 September. The St Michael’s Mount website has more information.
St Michael’s Mount