One of the best things about Jersey is that it’s one of the few places where it’s still possible to have an old-fashioned family beach holiday.
Our own children are grown up now but my husband and I still go back when we can. We stay at Longueville Manor (01534 725501; www.longuevillemanor.com), just outside St Helier. It’s expensive (we stayed somewhere cheaper when we had our children in tow) but it’s worth it.
Our favourite beach is Plemont on the island’s northwest corner. It has everything we need: lovely clean sand, a waterfall and caves to explore. The waves can be a bit boisterous for swimming but it’s great for bodysurfing. There’s a café and lavatories at the top of the cliff as well as parking (get there early to be sure of a space).
The only thing against Plemont beach is that it gets completely covered at high tide which limits the length of time you can stay – but that makes it all the more special somehow.
HIKING AND EATING
This is an island that caters to all sorts of visitors. Walkers should explore the northern coastal area – their efforts will be rewarded not only with stunning views but some good cafés, especially the ones at Plemont Bay and Greve De Lecq.
The less energetic can experience the wonderful bays using the superb bus service; a single to anywhere on the island is £2.00
Cyclists can explore inland – the War Tunnels café provides a welcome rest and hearty snacks.
Jersey is such a beautiful island, with fantastic beaches, great surfing and really superb weather. The best bit however has to be the food.
In October and the beginning of November, the Tennerfest makes eating out in Jersey even better, with set menus starting from as little as £10 and the chance to eat Michelin-star food at bargain prices.
You should visit the glass church of St Matthew’s (www.glasschurch.org). The interior was designed by Rénén Lalique and is simply stunning. The church is on the main road from St Helier to St Aubins at Milbrook and is quite unremarkable from the outside. “I have never seen anything like it and have no idea how such a unique place remains so low key.”
CASTLES AND CANNONS
Make sure you go to both Elizabeth and Mont Orgueil castles; take a picnic if the weather is good and make it a day out to remember. Maybe you will even time your visit to the firing of the cannon at Elizabeth Castle.
They also have a terrific Wildlife Conservation Trust (Les Augrès Manor, Trinity; www.durrell.org) where, if you’re lucky, you could enjoy one of the keeper talks and get “close up & personal” with one of the animals.
If you enjoy walking, we thoroughly recommend visiting during one of the island’s twice-yearly walking weeks, organised by Jersey Tourism. They take place in spring and autumn and there are usually 40 or so walks to choose from, both coastal and inland, led by knowledgable local guides. You can even do a 48-mile walk around the whole island for anyone relishing a physical challenge.
TUNNELS AT A PRICE
We were surprised at quite how much we enjoyed the Jersey War Tunnels (www.jerseywartunnels.com), dug during the German occupation and now a museum telling the story of island life at that time. Fascinating, touching and also a bit spooky. The admission price – £40.00 for two adults and two children – was pretty steep, though.
If you’ve ever fancied riding pillion on a Harley-Davidson here’s your chance: Limo Bikes Jersey (07797 749777; www.limobikesjersey.com) will pick you up and whisk you round the island, either on a quick tour or a longer outing. Great fun – even if the island speed limit is only 40mph.
The temperatures may not match, but on the right sort of day, some of Jersey’s beaches and turquoise seas have a positively Caribbean hue.
I’ve just come back from a week on the island, and we made it part of our routine to start with a dip in Bouley Bay on the north coast. The setting, with cliffs to either side, is superb, the water lovely, and there’s a slipway to make getting in and out easy (even when the tide’s a fair way out), and a perfectly positioned pontoon (used by the dive school here; www.scubadivingjersey.com) to swim out to, have a breather, and then come back.
Afterwards, grab a hot chocolate and bacon roll at Mad Mary’s, a little shack of a café just beyond the The Black Dog pub above the bay. If you swim later in the day, perhaps replace the hot chocolate with something stronger at the pub.
THE CRAB SHACK
You’re guaranteed a superb meal in relaxed surroundings on the seafront at The Crab Shack in St Brelade’s Bay (01534 744611; www.crabshackjersey.co.uk; Be sure to book, however, as it’s well known on the island.
It’s the sort of place where you can come in trailing sand from the superb beach just across the promenade. If you want something more formal, the co-owned Oyster Box (01534 743311; www.oysterbox.co.uk; next door is equally good (and possibly even more popular), with a similar fish and seafood-based menu, but higher prices.
What to avoid
KNOW YOUR LIMIT
Keep an eye on your speedometer. If you break the somewhat draconian speed limit, you are very likely to be stopped and fined.
OFF YOUR BIKE
Inland Jersey is hilly and should be avoided by unfit cyclists. We know! We were those unfit cyclists and spent more time pushing our bikes than riding them. Stick to the coast, except in the north, where there are cliffs. The west, though, is relatively flat.
I’m not saying ignore Jersey’s capital completely, but probably don’t pick a hotel there as a base. With the best will in the world, the town is not the prettiest place, and other smaller centres leave you better placed for the western beaches and the pretty walking country in the north and centre of the island.
Parking is difficult in the narrow lanes that lead to many of the northern bays.
Phoebe Black, Jersey