The second largest island in Channel Islands – an archipelago in the English Channel just off the coast of Normandy, France – Guernsey is a self-governing British Crown dependency. With a total area of 71 square kilometres and 46 kilometres of beautiful coastline, the island is known for its pristine and unspoilt natural scenery, welcoming locals, picturesque villages and hints of both French and English culture. Here are our 8 beautiful reasons why you should add Guernsey to your travel list…
Nature lovers will especially fall in love with the many beautiful sandy beaches located around the island as well as the surrounding spectacular cliff-top scenery. They are 27 beaches in total, ranging from small coves through to vast stretches of golden sand and they are actually amongst the cleanest beaches in the world. You’ll always find quiet beach spots for sunbathing during the summer and plenty of rock pools for children to explore. Some of the best beaches include:
Port Soif– Located on the west coast of the island, this is a sheltered horseshoe-shaped beach with gorgeous golden sand that looks postcard-perfect.
Vazon Bay – Nestled on the west coast of Guernsey, this is a large 2-mile long stretch of beach with fine white sand. It is a family-friendly location with kiosks, toilets, and a surf school. It’s a very picturesque spot that was recently voted Britain’s Cleanest Beach.
Port Grat – Located to the north of the island, Port Grat is a quiet beach that is popular with locals. It has soft white sand and a beautiful curved shape and is the perfect spot for a late afternoon swim and a BBQ. Failing the BBQ, there is also a local kiosk which sells snacks!
Cobo Bay – If you don’t mind a more crowded spot, check out Cobo Bay. This gem of a place is a long stretch of sandy beach located across the road from the Cobo Bay Hotel. Here you can enjoy a swim, then follow it up with a refreshing white wine from the hotel bar!
The friendly locals
The residents of Guernsey enjoy a very idyllic laid-back island lifestyle with gorgeous scenery, fine weather and a much slower place of life. As a result, the locals seem very friendly, happy-going people and very welcoming to tourists. From hotel receptionists to café owners, everyone seems to have a smile for you here!
You can learn about their intriguing WWII history brought to life in the new film – The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society
Take a break to lovely Guernsey to discover the island that inspired the movie. Guernsey is the star of a new film that has been just released in cinemas – the movie which stars Downton Abbey and Cinderella actress Lily James is based on a novel by the same name. The beautiful historical drama is about remembering experiences of the Nazi-Occupied Guernsey during WWII as well as love, friendship and the sadness of friends lost, all against a spectacular backdrop of the beautiful Guernsey scenery. Visit the island yourself to discover the island that inspired the movie.
The wonderful mix of cultures
Guernsey has a long history that stretches back thousands of years. It also has an interesting culture that has been shaped by Norman, French, British, Portuguese, and even German influences. This unique blend makes it a very intriguing place to visit and you’ll find a mix of lots of different European flavours here! For starters, there are some unique dishes that blend the culinary traditions of multiple cultures. You will love the gâche mêlaïe (a delicious apple pie), Guernsey gâche (fruit bread), and Ormer (abalone harvested from local beaches).
There is an interesting blend of cultures when it comes to music and dancing and the island has its own culture of folk music and traditional dancing. Guernsey has many cultural celebrations throughout the year, including the Guernsey Literary Festival and the Guernsey Heritage Festival. They are exciting events and an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the island. There are many historic sites to explore including Castle Cornet, Hauteville House, the Fort Grey and Shipwreck Museum, and the German Military Underground Hospital.
Guernsey benefits from mild winters and warm balmy summers. It is a very sunny part of the world, particularly during July, when it experiences an average of 250 sunshine hours throughout the month. The lovely weather makes it a fantastic destination for outdoor activities like swimming, sailing, surfing, walking, and mountain biking.
There are many incredible landscapes to enjoy around the island. A few of my favourites…
Located on the South of the island, Moulin Huet (pictured above) offers some truly spectacular ocean views. The famous painter Renoir loved the views so much that he captured them in one of the 15 paintings he created while visiting the island in 1883.
Located above St Peter Port, these historic gardens include hundreds of native and imported plants. There is a magnificent view down to the city and ocean and this place is a must-see for any keen gardener.
There is a wonderful walking track which stretches around the headlands on the south of the island. The views are incredible and if you visit the island in May, you can participate in guided tours provided as a part of the Spring Walking Festival.
The surrounding islands
If the many specular sights, fantastic food, and stunning beaches of Guernsey aren’t enough, you can also explore the surrounding islands! There are three close islands to explore — Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou and they are equally beautiful locations with secluded beaches, walking trails and a pristine natural environment.
Animal lovers have a lot to see and do while on Guernsey! During summer, you will see pods of dolphins swimming around the island, they are curious creatures that enjoy swimming near surfers and sailboats. There is also a large (and gorgeous!) community of Atlantic Grey seals that spend time on the North of Helm Island. If you are a bird watcher, you will be amazed by how many species visit Guernsey. In addition to some very cute Puffins, you can also get the chance to see the Red-necked Grebe, Common Coot, Black-throated diver, Green Heron, Northern Gannet and much more – over 150 different bird species have been seen on the island.
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Al has always been a sucker for an adventure. As a kid he was lucky enough to be taken along on exotic far flung family jaunts and since then he's developed a taste for new cultures. From the sizzling street markets of Bangkok to the alligator infested waters of the Florida Everglades, he loves to be fully immersed in his surroundings, soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of every new destination he visits. Travelling and writing aside, he has spent many years working in the fine wine trade and certainly knows his clarets from his chiantis. He also has a special fondness for craft beer and all things artisan as well as his favourite destinations; Jamaica, Austria, Netherlands, Thailand and Mauritius.