Jersey, the biggest of the cluster of the Channel Islands nestled just off the coast of France is a beautiful travel destination teeming with gorgeous coastlines, picturesque harbours and bags of old-world charm. In partnership with Visit Jersey our writer Holly Daffurn went to explore this lovely but often underrated travel destination…
The most beautiful thing about being a travel writer is without doubt that you get to experience places that have never really entered your radar. After spending a few blissful days on the beautiful channel island, I can’t wait to go back. In fact, I’ve developed quite a fantasy of retiring to Jersey, spending my days writing novels and exploring the rugged wind-whipped beaches. My love affair with Jersey started the moment we caught our first glimpse, from up above the clouds. Here are my ten main reason why I think Jersey makes the ideal holiday destination…
The incredible scenery
We were given the option to use a hire car, and given the remote location of our stunning hotel it seemed like the sensible thing to do. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone taking a trip to Jersey. The island is small (just 9 miles by 5 miles) and you can nip from coast to coast in no time and really get a feel for the beauty and diversity of the island.
We found that despite its tiny size the island exhibited a wide variety of different landscapes, from the commercial quaintness of St Helier & St Aubin’s in the South to the serene secret beaches in the North. Gorey is full of picturesque houses and a refined elegance all overlooked by the romantic Mont Orguel Castle. We were fortunate enough to be staying at the Atlantic Hotel on the West coast, just a stone’s throw from such striking landmarks as La Rocco Tower and the Corbière Lighthouse.
The beautiful coastlines
I like my beaches to have character and personality. As pretty as pristine white sands and azure oceans are, there is nothing quite like a raging unpredictable ocean, windswept coastlines and dramatic brooding skies. The Jersey coastline is breathtaking in its dramatic majesty and there is so much of it to explore that you are always close to the ocean. It also boasts romantic cliff top walks as well as a diverse selection of beaches. From lovely family-friendly beaches such as Greve De Lecq complete with a variety of greasy spoon cafés and a well-stocked gift shop to the rugged charm of more intimate solitary beaches that you can stumble across right around the island. The coastline is ideal for watersports too and there is a vibrant community of enthusiasts and plenty of scope available from lessons to equipment hire for people of all experience levels.
Solitude and serenity
Of course, there is the bustle of the built-up areas, for those looking for a vibrant and colourful stay. However, if you want some peace and quiet, time to yourself and plenty of space, then Jersey is wonderful. Of course, during peak season you’ll find others gathered around the main beaches or tourist attractions but if you want to explore nature and enjoy it alone or with a few choice companions, then it is easy to embrace the solitude. Even during the middle of August we managed to find quiet spots and our own private beach paradise, as well as enjoying the hustle and bustle of St Helier.
Fabulous festivals – Battle of Flowers
We were fortunate enough to be there during the Battle of Flowers which wasn’t just a thoroughly enjoyable event, but it also demonstrated such a sense of community and celebrated human skill, patience and devotion. Each of the floats displayed astounding designs crafted from thousands of individual flowers dyed in an array of stunning colours. Community groups from each parish worked together to complete these masterpieces and accompanied them through the streets in full fancy dress. There was dancing, music and a wonderful celebratory air.
Of course being surrounded by water is bound to inspire a culture of fresh seafood from the finest Michelin Star cuisine to the tasty local fish and chips. However, it is not just the seafood that makes Jersey an exceptional destination for foodies. The proximity to France has provided a distinct and welcome inspiration that is apparent in the food, yet not completely dominated by French influence. Jersey cuisine is very much its own and has some very unusual and wonderful treats such as Jersey Black Butter which is made of apples, Jersey cider and spices. Pure Jersey milk is utterly divine and is only available to drink in Jersey. The stuff we can buy over here is a poor albeit creamy substitute for the real deal.
The wonderful hotels and restaurants
Many of the hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants are run by families who have been raised in Jersey for generations. This loyalty and love for the area, as well as the depth of knowledge and insight into the culture means they are delighted to be able to share advice, opinions and suggestions while you are staying on their beloved isle. The Atlantic Hotel, where we stayed combined the elegance and exquisite dining that you’d expect from a luxury hotel that has won countless awards, yet had a down-to-earth warmth that comes from a family run business that goes back generations.
The Jersey War Tunnels (and rich cultural history)
The War Tunnels really caught my attention, the story that unfolds within this thoughtful exhibit is so compelling and beautifully executed. It hits you on an emotional level without being saccharine or sensational, the presentation is excellent and combines historical artefacts, audiovisual displays, text, photographs, interactive elements and reconstructed props to create an engaging and captivating experience. It really opened my eyes to the reality of the situation and highlighted my ignorance, I had no real knowledge of Jersey’s wartime experience, despite living so close by.
Durrell Wildlife Centre (and the local wildlife)
The thought of animals in captivity is one that I struggle with and have no desire to support. However, the Durrell Wildlife Centre in Jersey is something quite different. It gently teaches about conservation, protecting our environment and celebrates a vast variety of wonderful creatures. The soul aim of the park is to save species from extinction and there are 132 different species in the impressive 32 acre park. The animals are all kept in spacious natural habitats where they freely breed and explore. Western lowland gorillas, meerkats, orangutans, lemurs and fruit bats are amongst the fascinating creatures that are here. A packed timetable of wildlife talks, plenty of opportunities to get involved in the conservation and the utterly inspiring Gerald Durrell story are all part of this wonderful day out.
I experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life, just moments from our hotel on our own private beach. Flanked by pretty pink granite and enjoying a far more temperature climate than we’d expect at home. There is nowhere like Jersey. You can identify that France is close by geographically and culturally, and the same goes for England but above all Jersey is its own destination with a unique flavour that even soaked through in the sunset.
Such variety of landscape and style for such a small island
Jersey is perfect for people of all ages and from all walks of life. Young families looking for picturesque beaches, ice-cream and child-friendly attractions to couple looking for romantic sunsets, wild walks and exquisite candlelit dinners to retired folk looking for a slower pace of life and perhaps to indulge a love of botany or conservation to young groups of friends who want live music, surfing, vibrant bars and extreme sports.
As it was my husband’s first press trip I worried that he may find the constant exploration, stopping to take a million photos of everything and relentless curiosity a little draining, however, he cites it as one of his favourite holidays (right up there with Japan and our Parisian honeymoon). I would urge anyone who is offered the chance to visit Jersey to do so and staying at The Atlantic Hotel is a definite must combining luxury and comfort in the most beautiful natural setting.
All words and images by regular contributor Holly Daffurn