Weekend Getaway: Visiting Jersey, Channel Islands
January 1, 1970
by Kim Hamon
When most people dream of an Island escape they think of sitting on a golden sandy beach with a cold glass of wine in hand, watching the sun set slowly over the ocean. They also probably imagine having to travel to somewhere like the Caribbean to experience this kind of luxury. The truth is that all of this and more is available right on the United Kingdom’s doorstep. Paradise is less than an hour’s flight from London; on the beautiful Island of Jersey, Channel Islands and I am proud to call this place my home.
What can I see & do?
From hidden valleys and enchanting woodlands to rugged coastlines, Jersey is quite honestly a ramblers paradise. On a clear, summer’s day, a stroll along the south-east coast will treat you to panoramic views of the neighbouring north coast of France.
If you venture further east, you will find yourself at St Catherine’s woods where you will be hopping over stepping stones and flying through the air on rope swings that hang from giant trees. Afterwards, make your way five minutes down the road to St Catherine’s bay for a Jersey Dairy Ice-cream and sit along the breakwater, watching the boats coming and going in the late afternoon sun.
With some of the largest tides in Britain, Jersey is spoilt for choice when it comes to water-based activities. Some of these include:
- Jet Skiing
By far the Island’s most popular water sport can be found on the west coast of St Ouen’s Bay. We are proud to be home to one of the best surf beaches in Europe where hundreds of islanders and tourists alike flock to this bay all year round to catch the waves and then relax afterwards with a much-needed cold drink and fantastic food at the Watersplash Beach Bar and Diner.
History & Heritage:
Landing in Jersey is like Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole. What seems to be just a small scrap of land from above, soon becomes so much more. Despite only being 45 square miles in size (smaller than London Heathrow airport!), Jersey’s history dates back as far as the prehistoric era 250,000 years ago.
You’ll find everything from Neolithic dolmens, medieval castles to more recent historical landmarks such as the extensive World War Two defence systems dotted around the Island’s coastline; a stark reminder of the importance the Channel Islands played during those five years and the sacrifices the Islanders themselves made during the occupation.
If you’re a fan of the hit ITV series The Durrells, then you cannot visit Jersey without visiting Jersey Zoo. However, this is not just any ordinary zoo. Better described as a conservation site, it was first opened by Gerald Durrell himself in 1959 with the mission to help save endangered animals around the world from extinction, and almost 60 years later and 23 years after his death, Gerald’s dreams have seen over 47% of an increase in the chance of survival for all the species that they target and you can see all the incredible work they do for yourself, not to mention all the fascinating animals.
Dining & Nightlife:
St Helier is the capital parish and beating heart and soul of the Island. The charm of the High Street and surrounding area with its cobbled streets and granite buildings will transport you back in time to when life ran at a much slower, peaceful pace. However just a few minutes walk away, you suddenly blast back into the sophistication of the 21st century with the fine-dining, cuisine restaurants that overlook those picture-perfect harbours and waterfront views. If this sounds like your idea of heaven, you have to book a table at Quayside Restaurant & Bistro to sample some of the famous local delicacies such as Royal Jersey Potatoes and fresh local seafood.
Of an evening, the old town and the waterfront come together to create a hub of modest but lively nightlife. I would recommend starting you’re evening off with a few drinks and some live music in Chambers Pub before getting the party started at The Drift nightclub located at The Royal Yacht Hotel. Finish off by dancing the night away at Mimosa where everyone is made to feel like a VIP.
Sun, Sand & Sunbathing:
You can’t even begin to contemplate an Island getaway without the thought of lying about in the mid-summer sun, on soft, golden sand and listening to the waves of irresistible blue sea lapping about at your feet. The beach is an essential part of any Island break and on Jersey, you’ve got 45 award-winning square miles of beach to choose from.
For your picture-perfect, white-sandy beach, look no further than St Brelade’s Bay. A firm favourite with tourists and locals alike, jump on the open-top beach bus from St Helier and you’ll be building-sandcastles in no time. If you’d prefer more of your own secluded spot of bliss, the small bays of the north coast such as Bouley Bay, Bonne Nuit and Rozel are all equally beautiful, nestled in and among rugged, sea-worn cliffs.
Where can I stay?
Jersey has every style of accommodation to suit all. From luxury hotel & Spas to country retreats, family-run B&B’s and campsites. Whatever your preference, there’s bound to be something for you. Some of my recommendations are:
- The Royal Yacht Hotel and Spa
- The Greenhills Country House Hotel
- The Seascale Bed & Breakfast
- Jersey Zoo Glamping
- Rozel Campsite
How do I get there?
Jersey is no more than around an hour’s flight from most UK airports with flights running from London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Doncaster and more. Check out these airlines for more details:
- British Airways
- Blue Islands
You can also catch the Condor Ferry from Poole or Portsmouth with the fast ferry getting you between the two in four and a half hours so what are you waiting for?