Tide Times and Tips for St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall

Tide Times and Tips for St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

When Is the Best Time

The tides and the weather influence everything on the Mount. In contrast to Mont St. Michel, the island is surrounded by the sea and accessible by feet for a time frame of roughly 3-4 hours. It’s one of Cornwall's most popular and iconic landmarks with roughly 300.000 paying visitors at the Mount plus many more, so crowds can spoil this exceptional experience.

St. Michaels Mount in the afternoon on a sunny day
The incoming tide

If you spend a couple of days in the Penzance area, come here twice. Notice it’s closed on Saturdays, and even boat transfer is not offered. Usually, the island and the castle remain closed from late December until mid-February! Continue reading to get all insights for an unforgettable visit to Saint Michael's Mount.

People on the causeway during incoming tide.
This guy got wet shoes on the causeway.

Each season is unique and worth a visit. If possible, try to experience St. Michaels Mont during high and low tide. It’s outstanding waiting on the cobblestone walkway for the incoming tide and the first waves.

St. Michaels Mount Tide Times

Accessibility causeway information sign

The island's exposed causeway is approx. 2 hours before until 2 hours after low tide accessible. Usually, once a day and once at night. Therefore, check the tide times first. Tide Times The Mount 

The best time to visit St. Michaels Mount is from April to September the driest time during low tide. If you wish to avoid the crowds come on a Saturday when the castle is closed but the village is still accessible.

Time of Day for Photography

The Mount at low tide with a few people on the causeway.
The sunset is magical at the Mount.

You get the best shots of the Mount in the evening with the sunset in the back. It is also the quietest time when all day-trippers and tour busses left St. Michael's Mount.

Crowds and Weather by Season

The causeway to St. Michaels Mount at low tide.
Midday is the busiest time of the day.

Most tourists come here from April to September, the “driest” months of the year. However, it’s often misty at the Mount. If possible, come on a sunny day. During the day, the Mount gets overrun at low tide. If you are not a National Trust member, you must line up for tickets to enter the castle. Avoid late morning and midday when the guided bus tours arrive, and people queue in the entire town of Marazion for a boat ferry at high tide. The same can happen when you want to leave the Mount. During high tide, the boat transfer for 2 £ and kids 1 £ one way is offered. Take your time at the Mount; visit the garden and the castle and walk back on the ancient cobblestone pathway at low tide.

Spring (March-May)

The Mount and causeway at high tide from higher elevation.
Due to the mild climate, even palm trees exist here.

This time of the year allows you to experience the unique atmosphere of the Mount. March and April are quieter while more tourists visit Cornwall from May onwards. However, May is still bearable, and the weather may be good as well. March is still pretty cold, on average 10°C in the daytime and in May around 14°C, but it can also be warmer.

Summer (June-August)

The Mount in the Summer - sunny with white clouds
The summer is crazy busy, but the weather is awesome.

June is busier, while July and August are the worst time of the year. You almost can’t avoid crowds except late in the evening and early morning. It isn’t easy to enjoy this unique place with so many people taking pictures. On the opposite, the weather can be gorgeous and warm.

Autumn (September-November)

Crowds on the cobbled causeway to St. Michaels Mount

September is similar to May and a pleasant month, with daily temps daily around 17°C. The crowds thin out in October, and November is pretty quiet, but therefore it rains often. You can enjoy the special atmosphere that exists at the Mount.

Winter (December-February)

St. Michaels Mount in the evening at sunset without any crowds
The causeway leads to Saint Michael's Mount.

December is also a good month to avoid the crowds except after Christmas. But check first if the castle is open. The opening times change each year. The castle and the island can be closed from late December to mid-February. There is a huge amount of precipitation, and daily temps are chilly below 10°C. However, Cornwall does not experience a hard and freezing winter.

Top 5 Day-Tours from London

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3 Tips to Avoid the Crowds

The busy cobbled causeway at low tide
Summer and weekends the causeway is packed with tourists - Marazion in the back.
  1. Come early morning before the tour buses arrive.
  2. Another option is the afternoon; stay until the evening, but check tides and boat transfer first. 
  3. If you don’t want to visit the castle just the Mount; come on a Saturday. This is the quietest day of the week.
     

Accommodations in Penzance and Cornwall

Penzance harbour and main street
The Cornish coast and towns are lovely in Cornwall.

We spent ten days in Cornwall. To get the most out of our stay with less driving, we’d booked two cottages on different locations — the reason that we visited the Mount twice; once in the morning for a couple of hours and again in the evening when most of the people had left the Mount, and the castle was already closed. This was a magical moment with a memorable sunset. From May to September, advanced booking is recommended to get one of the best-rated guest houses and hotels. Hotels and cottages in Marazion, Penzance or in St. Yves. For St. Yves, check out if parking nearby is available. This is a bit tricky.

Boat and Amphicraft Rides

Amphicraft boat in the harbour of St. Michaels Mount
The amphicraft for the rougher sea in winter.

You get to the Mount always during high tide from three different landing points in Marazion. Depending on the time of the day, you may queue pretty long either going to the Mount or back to Marazion, although there is a fleet of boats for your transport, often six and even more. The sea is often rough during winter. An amphicraft was built in 2002 and is used instead from the slipway in Marazion carpark for 3 £. This is quite an experience with space for 46 guests.

Opening Hours St. Michaels Mount Castle

St. Michaels Mount view from Marazion beach
St. Michaels Mount is one of the main sights in Cornwall.

The opening times change pretty often. In between, the castle remains closed for a week. From late December to mid-February, the castle and island are usually closed! Saturdays are also closed. It usually opens at 10.30 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. except for summer; closure at 5.30 p.m. The last admission is 45 minutes before closing. Check the opening hours first if you like to have a look at the castle. Closures can happen due to a bad weather forecast as well. Opening Times Castle

Opening Times St. Michaels Mount Garden

The garden is full of people during midday
A popular place to meet up with families and friends.

The castle’s garden is not always open to the public. It’s open from mid-April until late September. Last admission 45 minutes before closure. If the garden is open, one of the gardeners gives detailed information about the park and plants at 1 p.m.

  • During the flower season until the end of June, from Monday to Friday
  • All other months on Thursdays and Fridays only

Guided village and harbour tours are offered daily at 11.30 a.m., 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. except for Saturday.

I took most of the pictures and some are by my brother. If you wish to use any contact me.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Cornwall, Marazion
United Kingdom
United Kingdom

The Mount (nickname) is situated 500 meters from the mainland and accessible by feet at low tide. Schedule a minimum of three hours for the Mount, better four. It’s such a unique place to visit. So, where does the name come from?

Map of the island of St. Michaels Mount
Full-size map

The story is similar to Mount Saint Michel. The legend is that Saint Michael appeared to local fishermen, warning them of the dangerous rocks below the sea's surface in 495 AD. This may be the reason for building a chapel on the Mount. It looks like the story was borrowed from Mount Saint Michel by the monks to attract more pilgrims. 

One of the many displays in the exhibition
The exhibition is worth visiting.

The Barge House is nowadays the information centre and an exhibition about the island’s history. It’s the first building you reach completed in 2016 when passing the causeway to Si. Michaels Mount. There is a video shown which runs in a loop with lots of information about the island.

The Castle

The castle during the golden hour in the evening in spring
The quiet evening at St. Michaels Mount.

The owners have been the Aubyn Family since the 17th century. When you enter the castle entrance you first pass by the Mount’s diary, soon after the Giant Well; a freshwater spring. The reason that early settlement was possible. It’s a steep and uneven path and takes 5 minutes up to the castle. The views from the top of the castle to the mainland and Marazion are outstanding. The castle is full of history, and it takes some time to enjoy the six rooms, which are open to the public. The scenic view from the top is the highlight. 

  • The entrance fee is 10 £ p.p.
  • Combined with the garden 15 £ 
  • National Trust members for free!

The Garden

The private cemetery of St. Michaels Mount

The entrance fee is 8 £, combined with the castle 15 £. You get an utterly different view of the castle from the rock garden. The garden has restricted days of opening to prevent the fragile terraces and narrow paths for destroying by too many visitors, therefore only 2 ½ months open from Mon – Fri and the rest of the time on Thursday and Friday only! The subtropical terraced garden around the castle is exceptional. The climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream and frost is rare. The reason for subtropical plants. Discover the park and the steep stone terraces along the pathways. Always at 1 pm one of the gardeners gives detailed information about the sub-tropical and exotic plants and their work. If you are keen on gardening and like to have some of these plants and succulents, look at the plant sales shop.

Is St. Michaels Mount Worth Visiting

That is out of the question. Yes, it is a magical place throughout the year in sunshine, and fog, but check the tides. Walk on the cobbled pathway and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. St. Michaels Mount never disappoints. 

Parking 

Parking in Marazion to get to St. Michaels Mount
Long Term Parking Google Maps

Marazion provides several car parks outside and at the beginning of the town. Marazion itself has narrow roads, and only a few parking spaces are available. The parking fee is £ 4 and is free during the winter. There is also overflow parking which we had to choose upon our arrival. Overflow Parking Google Maps

Wheelchair Accessibility to and on the Mount 

The cobbled causeway to St. Michaels Mount

It is best to reach the island on the cobbled causeway. It’ll be a bumpy ride, but with an extra helping hand, it might work. There is the possibility of a boat transfer, but first, a folded wheelchair is needed, and second, steps at the harbour make it pretty tricky. Access to the visitor centre, the village, the port, and the facilities by a ramp is relatively easy to handle. Due to the steep ascent and the steps to the summit and in the garden, access is limited. If you like to visit the Mount, call for assistance in advance at 01736 710507.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed on the island in the lower areas; around the village, on the boats, and the harbour but neither in the garden nor in the castle.

Packing List

  • Wear proper shoes; the cobblestones are slippery
  • Bottle of water, prices are high on the island
  • A snack or picnic. You have to line up at the Sail Loft Café or the Island Cafe if it's busy. On the other hand, prices are higher than on the mainland. They serve home-baked cake, scones, fresh crab sandwiches, and of course, cream tea.
  • A towel and swimsuit during summer for the patrolled beach in Marazion.
     

St. Michael's Mount History and Facts

The Mount and the causeway at high tide but visible from higher elevation.
The sea is crystal clear. You can see the causeway despite the tide.
  • The island was already mentioned before Christ. The first settlement dated back more than 3000 years ago. The name of the tidal island was Ictis in the past.
  • The Norman conquered the Mount in 1066
  • The Mount was already a major centre for pilgrimage. A church and the priory were built by the monks of the sister island Mont St. Michel in the 12th century. These buildings are still situated at the centre of the castle.
  • The Mount was in private hand since Elizabeth I was the owner.
  • She sold it to Robert Cecil in 1599 and he to the Basset family 41 years later.
  • Since 1659 the owners have been the Aubyn Family.
  • November first in 1755 was a terrible day. The island got hit by a three-meter-high Tsunami wave caused by the earthquake in Lisbon, where most of the city got destroyed.
  • In 1828 the 5th Sir John St. Aubyn tried to purchase Mont Saint Michel in Normandy.
  • In 1901 the underground tram was installed to transport heavy goods from the harbour up to the castle, and it is still in use.
  • Until 1909 there was a herd of cows to provide the Aubyn Family and residents with milk and dairy products.
  • In 1954 the Mount was given to the National Trust with an exceptional agreement. The Aubyn Family is allowed to live on the Mount for another 999 years. And on top of that, they are licensed to run the visitor business.
  • John and Mary St Aubyn moved to the Mount in 2003.
  • In winter 2014, a part of the cobblestone pathway was severely damaged. The decision was made to restore the entire causeway in just one year, always working at the low ride.
  • Leaving on the Mount or in the village is challenging. The villager kids have to take a boat to get to school. Early 18th century, 300 villagers with 53 houses inhabited the island. Nowadays, around 35 people live and work here.
     

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Comments

Rene North Rhine

Our visit was in May a couple of years ago. During the day we had high tide and to reach the isle the boat was needed. So we decided to come back later in the evening at low tide to visit St. Michaels Mount by feet. In May you already may enjoy long evenings with daylight and fewer people. The few inhabitants will only reach or leave their isle by car when it is low tide. If there should be one that passes you, it should not bother - we just saw careful and friendly drivers.

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Micha Herber-Bleich
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