Last Updated on 6th September 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
Twice a day the conically shaped Cornish island of St Michael’s Mount is cut off from the rest of England by the salty tides. The sandy stretch in front of the isle is known as Marazion beach, while the town itself dates back hundreds of years. Here’s how to visit St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall’s most magical tidal island.
Why visit St Michaels’ Mount?
Sea air, golden sand, and a beautiful tidal island known as St Michael’s Mount: welcome to the most beautiful destination in Southern Cornwall! This smaller, lesser-known sibling of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy sits high atop a conical tidal island, imposing over the surrounding landscape and can be seen from miles away, all across the bay…
The Mount makes for a particularly enjoyable trip for anyone who enjoys history. Once upon a time, sea levels in the area were much lower and where St Michael’s Church now stands was once a raised forest. Woodland and ancient forest covered the ground at Mount’s Bay, as was revealed by a particularly ferocious storm in 2014.
Today, the medieval church at the very summit of the mount is dedicated to St Michael, as so many along the coast of the South West are. And, the ecclesiastical building was even constructed by the very same order of monks as that of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. Similarly, in nearby Marazion town, there’s plenty of Elizabethan history of uncover…
How to visit St Michael’s Mount
From across Mounts Bay, the stunning island can be viewed at any time. That is, of course, with the exception of when the sea mist rolls in and obscures even the brightest lights from view. Marazion beach is open every day throughout the year, though the parking by the beach is only open during reasonable daylight hours.
For those looking to visit the Mount in the early morning or after dusk has set in, then parking can be found within Marazion town itself. During low tide, it’s possible to cross the causeway along an ancient track, following in the footsteps of so many before you. Before crossing, be sure to check the causeway opening times to avoid disappointment and stay safe!
While the causeway requires good walking shoes, it’s a short walk, taking no more than ten to fifteen minutes to cross to the pretty harbour of St Michael’s Mount. Access to the island is free and once there, there’s a small pub and a few shops to enjoy. Visiting the castle and church itself, however, is paid and they are open from Sunday through to Friday.
If you find that the causeway is flooded during your visit then fear not, for it is still perfectly possible to visit St Michael’s Mount. A regular passenger ferry transports visitors to-and-from the island throughout the Spring, Summer, and Autumn during the daytime. The crossing costs a couple of pounds, and just £1 for children.
Best time to visit St Michael’s Mount
So iconic is the island, that it has been used as the backdrop to film a whole host of TV Series, movies, and films. In more recent times, some of the more famous things to have been shot at the Mount include Dracula, This Morning, and Twelfth Night.
Throughout the year, the dramatic skyline is mirrored in the ever-changing coast. As such, the Mount is always worth a visit, no matter what the weather or time of day. With that being said, should you wish to visit the castle, church, and tropical islands, you should aim to visit just before or just after peak season.
This way, you’ll get to enjoy the treasures and hidden gems of the Cornish tidal island without all the crowds which inevitably flock here come summertime! The nearby town of Marazion and Penzance offer some of the best views of the island all day long and both destinations make for perfect weekend breaks. Check here for the best hotels in Marazion, and check here for the best places to stay in Penzance!
Capturing St Michael’s Mount in Photographs
The best time to visit the Mount is within the golden hour (i.e. the times around sunrise and sunset) when a golden glow bathes everything in a warm light. In order to capture the island with few or no people, then I recommend getting up incredibly early and capturing the sunrise. If that’s not possible, then sunset still works pretty well!
The best rockpools at Marazion beach can be found to the left-hand side of the cobbled lane leading to the island when facing St Michael’s Mount head on. For the best sand on the beach (and therefore the best location to capture water reflections), head to the right-hand side of the beach. When it comes to snapping the reflections on the water, here’s a complete guide to creating mirror reflections in the water with your camera!