Jersey is a bit of a random place to go, but it’s attractive because it’s got beaches as good as those you’d find in Europe; flights to the island are dirt cheap (our return flights cost £30); everyone speaks English so there are no language barriers; the currency is pounds; and it’s cycle friendly. Plus, while we were there, it never felt busy.
After snagging budget airline return flights from Luton for a long weekend in July, we scoured Airbnb and settled on an apartment located a short walk from the waterfront in St Helier, the capital of the tiny Channel Island.
When we landed at 10.30pm on the Friday, we hopped on the bus to town (approx £1.50pp) as there weren’t many taxis about – nothing listed on Uber either – which gave it a very ‘small’ feel. Boarding the bus, we discovered that when you pay in cash you’re likely to be given back ‘Jersey pounds’, which can’t be used in England, so get them changed back before you leave, or avoid using cash where possible. The journey to town was interesting: we got the impression that Jersey was a quiet, sleepy place as there were few people about despite it being a Friday evening.
The next morning we hired bikes from the waterfront – there were lots of places to pick some up. It cost about £20pp for two days of hire. We took full advantage of the marked bike trails, cycling along the coast up to St Aubin. The roads were full with cars but we were surprised to find most of the beaches empty – despite it being a hot day. Still, it was great to have all that space to ourselves. Eager to try fresh Jersey ice cream, we stopped off and had a taste of the exceptionally creamy stuff – delicious!
We cycled to the Jersey War Tunnels, a museum in the now unused war tunnels that gives an insight into life during the Second World War, when Jersey was occupied by the Germans. It’s packed with lots of stories and interesting insights. Towards the end of the museum, as you get deeper underground, it gets really cold so pack an extra layer for comfort.
That evening, after dropping our bikes back, we undertook my favourite activity of the weekend: a three-hour guided full moon walk with Jersey Kayak Adventures (£21pp). After catching sight of the beautiful sunset (they’re particularly great in Jersey) together we hiked three miles all the way out to Corbiere Lighthouse under the rays of the moon (“We hope you’ve packed your mooncream”, our guide joked).
I don’t want to give too much away but some of the highlights were: seeing glow worms, seeing Venus in the sky, venturing 1 mile off shore in the deep darkness of the night with just the stars for company and wet sand and puddles beneath us. Our expert guides pointed out various marine life and explained the history of Corbiere, which served as a post for the army during the war. Wellies and walking poles were provided (and necessary) as we were walking on soft sand and calf-deep water at some points. It was an alternative, informative way to spend our night and get to know Jersey a bit better, and I’d definitely recommend it for those who are moderately fit.
Getting back to our Airbnb that evening proved to be a bit touch-and-go: we finished the tour at about 12.45pm and the last bus was at 1ish. We’d called around various taxi companies but there were no cabs on the road, so had we missed that bus, our only route home would have been a 1.5 hour walk back to our accommodation in complete darkness! You can imagine our elation when we saw the headlights of the bus in the distance at about 1.10pm. So while much of the coastline is ideal for cycling in the daytime, and there is a bus network, to get around the rest of the island (and at night) it’s probably wise to hire a car.
We were off to La Mare Wine Estate so we gave the pedals a rest and hopped on the bus. It was nice to learn that Jersey’s the sort of place where you can greet the bus driver – and get a response!
When we arrived at the small vineyard the setting was peaceful. There were some ponies and a few small farm animals to look at in the grounds. We signed up for the vineyard tour and wine tasting (approx £7pp), although the wines were mediocre, in my opinion. The cream tea in the cafe was tasty though.
A short(ish) 20 minute walk from La Mare, we stumbled upon Devil’s Hole – one of my other highlights of the weekend. It’s a National Trust site that guards a blowhole that was eroded into Jersey’s coastline a number of years ago. There’s a track to go and see it by foot, and you can walk further around it along the coast. On our walk down we spotted wild goats in the steep coastline walls and some birds. If we’d have known, we would have packed a picnic and eaten it there, where all you could hear were the waves crashing on the shore below and the gentle wind. There are some benches and grass to have a sit down; it’s a truly peaceful, hidden-away place that’s worth seeking out.
On the journey back, we took the bus out to St Brelade’s Bay. The sun was shining and the beach was full up with families; kids playing in the sand, mums sunbathing. We ate ice cream (yes, more) and stuck our toes in the sand. If we’d have been better prepared we could have made it a beach day. This was the busiest place we’d found on the island.
We stopped off for a late alfresco lunch at The Boathouse in St Aubin, a lovely restaurant overlooking the harbour. The grub was good and the sun was shining – what more could we want? Note that while the flights out to Jersey were super cheap, the food and accommodation weren’t – they were similar to London prices, perhaps a bit more pricey. Understandable, considering Jersey is an island so what it doesn’t grow it must get shipped in.
On our final day, we took a leisurely stroll out to Elizabeth Castle – when there’s a low tide you can walk there along the Railway trail, but mind the few pools of water along the way. To enter the castle itself, you have to pay, but the walk up to it is a joy in itself.
We then walked into the town centre, had a mooch around in the shops and grabbed some lunch before getting the bus to the airport.
We had a great time in Jersey – it’s got a peaceful, quiet vibe with lots of natural beauty and spots for reflection, so it makes for a relaxing, outdoorsy break. If I was to go back, I’d probably hire a car to see more of the island, and I’d like to go dolphin/seal spotting next time.