Jersey is incredibly special to me, not least because my Grandfather hails from the island but also because the boy and I have had the most brilliant holidays there. Imagine then, my delight when one of our readers, the lovely Sarah, emailed us to ask if we would like her to virtually show us around this little patch of heaven.
It’s been a little while since Ste and I last visited – I’d say about five years ago now – so I was intrigued to see what new hotspots had popped up since we were last on Jersey and if some of my favourite places appeared on Sarah’s recommended list. Take it away Sarah…
At just 9 miles by 5, the island manages to squeeze an awful lot of lovely in, especially if you’re a fan of eating and drinking by the seaside! Although we are a British territory, being just 14 miles from the Brittany coast means that French influence is everywhere. Whilst I love Jersey throughout the year, it really comes into its own in the summer sunshine.
Packed With History
For such a little island, Jersey is bursting with history; from Neolithic sites and medieval castles, to the German bunkers built during the island’s occupation during World War II.
One of my favourite heritage sites is Mont Orgeuil castle, which is perched on the East coast and is pretty special. The pretty little harbour of Gorey nestled underneath is also home to some excellent restaurants.
For families, the obvious place to start is the beach (more on that later), but there’s more to do than just building sandcastles. The first being Durrell Wildlife Park, which is focused on conservation, and with two baby orang-utans and a new born bear cub – cuteness abounds! It’s also set in beautiful grounds and the café serves amazing food. Durrell is hugely close to my heart, as not only did I come here a lot growing up, but I got married here a couple of years ago.
All of the Jersey Heritage sites are wonderful places to go with littles, but I’d particularly recommend Mont Orgeuil Castle and also Elizabeth Castle in the bay of St Helier. If the weather isn’t behaving itself, the Maritime Museum is an amazing interactive piece of Jersey’s history. There is also a fantastic place called Tamba Park for any dino fans!
Food & Drink
Food wise, we are completely and utterly spoilt. We have four Michelin star restaurants, amazing beach cafes, and everything in between. One of my top beach spots is El Tico in St Ouens. It’s almost always crowded, but for good reason as you can watch the surf whilst eating amazing brunch/burgers!! There are also a fair few country pubs dotted around, so you’ll never get too thirsty whilst out exploring!
Another place I love is St Aubin, a pretty little harbour with a string of restaurants and pubs, in particular the Boathouse, the Salty Dog and the Old Court House. I’ve happily whiled away many an afternoon sipping wine in the sunshine and eating some of the incredible local seafood.
There are some fab places for eating and drinking in the main town, St Helier. My top picks would be Banjos, and the Royal Yacht for both food and drink, also Tiffin by the harbour the best view in town. We have a large Portuguese community, so there are some cracking Portuguese restaurants – you will not leave hungry!
For drinks, the Weighbridge area has lots of al fresco bars, my first choice being the Jersey Museum courtyard. For late night cocktails, I love the Blind Pig, a teeny tiny speakeasy cocktail bar which isn’t signposted in any way. Ask a local and they’ll point you in the right direction.
As an island, we take huge pride in our beautiful coast, and our many glorious beaches. The surfers paradise of St Ouen, the sheltered small bays like Beauport, and the hidden gems nestled in the north coast like Bouley Bay. Most of the beaches are blessed with golden sand, and clean, clear (but chilly) water.
Everyone in Jersey has their favourite beach, but mine is Plemont. It’s snuggled at the bottom of some cliffs, only accessible at low tide and by 100 or so steps down. Ok, it’s maybe not ideal for families with lots of stuff to carry, but you are rewarded with crystal clear water, perfect sand and caves in the granite cliffs to explore. The thigh-burn trek back up the steps also means an obligatory ice cream reward at the top.
If you fancy exploring the coast, you can go to surf school, kayaking, take a rib around the island, or try coasteering (basically climbing/jumping/swimming around the coast) and you have a good chance of coming across the dolphins that frequent our waters.
Where To Stay
There are options for all budgets and wants. From luxury hotels in the middle of town or by the sea (St Brelade’s Bay hotel I can definitely recommend), to self catering holiday lets. One of the more unique options are the Jersey Heritage holiday lets, where you can rent one of the historic landmarks which are stunning or glamping at Durrell.
During a longer stay, I would definitely suggest a day trip to France. The ferry takes an hour to the picture perfect medieval town of St Malo (aka Breton top lovers paradise) and the boats are usually timed so you can have an hour or two strolling and a nice long lunch (Lion D’or in the main square is my usual lunch spot) before hopping on the boat back.
Jersey operates on a fairly laid back schedule, but pubs close at 11pm, and if you go out dancing, you’ll turn into a pumpkin at 2am. It’s also worth mentioning that on Sunday, most shops (with a few exceptions) are closed.
The bus service is pretty good if you are going to stay in St Helier, which acts as the central hub with routes circling back to it. Otherwise, I’d recommend hiring a car which gives you a bit more flexibility.
P.S. In terms of shopping, there are some lovely boutique shops but the majority of the shops are your typical UK highstreet fare….however *enabling alert*, our prices have only 5% GST (aka VAT) rather than the UK’s whopping 20%, so you can pick up things at effectively 15% discount (and the beauty counters in our department stores stock most brands including Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, Laura Mercier, MAC etc).
Thank you Sarah, I think a return trip to Jersey is a definite next year! Do any of you lovely lot have any favourite haunts on this beautiful island. Please also drop a comment if you’d like to take us around your town too.