Until last month, I had honestly never heard of Looe island!
I usually base all my adventures around West Cornwall, and while last year I did spend some time visiting the beaches along East Cornwall’s North Coast during our Sharp’s Blue Flag Road Trip, I’ve not spent much time on East Cornwall’s South Coast (eg. from Par & Fowey to Looe, Seaton and Kingsand). It’s very unfamiliar to me!
However, I have cousins based in that area, and when my sister and I took them kayaking last month at Millendreath beach near Looe, we decided we needed to spend some more time exploring this area. You can actually view Looe Island from Millendreath beach, which is how the idea to visit came about.
As I say, I’d not heard of it before, and my cousins had never been there so a few weeks later, we booked for us all to take a boat trip over to the island from Looe harbour (I say ‘we’ – Miranda booked it all- thanks M!).
Running slightly on the late side, we muscled our way through the crowds in Looe to get to our little boat on time. It was a lovely sunny day, and being school holidays there were plenty of tourists in the town to navigate around. I hadn’t realised how popular Looe was, and again, it’s not somewhere I’d ever been before!
We made it to our boat and hopped on, waving to the people on the harbour as we sailed through the water. J (our younger cousin) was incredibly excited to be on a little boat like this. It was around a 5 minute journey (nice and quick!) and we even saw a shipwreck in the water just off Looe island as well!
Landing on the beach, we were greeted by the team of two who take care of the island and manage it on behalf of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, who talked us through a brief history of the island and showed us how to navigate the map. The island is 22acres in size and about 1.6km in circumference to walk around, so nice and easy for young kids.
The boat service gives you 2 hours on the island, which is the perfect amount of time. It took us around 1 hour to walk around it, taking our time looking at nature, which then gave us an hour to relax on the beach, which overlooks Looe harbour.
Because of the small boat and the fact the island is a protected nature and marine reserve, only a few groups are on the island at one time. This was possibly also exaggerated by social distancing measures for COVID, but it meant we pretty much had the island to ourselves for most of the afternoon – total bliss in comparison to the super busy school holiday chaos in Cornwall at this time of year.
On our walk around the island, we saw some baby ducks (presumably from the cottages there; one housing the island team and one is a holiday rental), lots of nesting sea birds settled down into the cliffs, a pheasant leaping out of the woodland in front of our path, and a group of sheep grazing sheep in the fields too.
When we got to the beach, we were a bit too cold to go for a dip in the sea, so we spent the rest of our time looking for seaglass, shells, and finding very interesting bits of skeletons amongst the pebbles! Apparently this particular piece of bone we found is from a predator fish – most likely a monkfish… of course my cousins kept it as a souvenir.
We then got the boat back and spent some time relaxing on Looe beach, before heading back home after Miranda and S had gone for a swim.
I’d highly recommend booking for a visit to Looe Island if you’re in the area! The return boat service was £10 per adult and £5 per child, and you have to pay a landing fee on the island of £4 per adult and £1 per child. You can find more information on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website.