Diary of a journey around Jersey
Our diary of a journey discovering the charming island of Jersey and all it offers – from beach walks and coastal driving routes to memorable food experiences and relaxing getaway breaks in the fresh salt air and with stunning views.
Just nine miles by five, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, which also include Guernsey, Sark and Alderney, and is perfect for a getaway break, offering a host of things to see and do, beautiful beaches and an amazing choice of places to dine and drink and simply soak up the atmosphere. INDEX spent a long weekend exploring its varied landscapes and nature, Second World War history and much more…
Wanting to avoid the hustle and bustle of an airport, we decided on a three-day car and ferry break with Condor Ferries, which saw us with an early morning start from Kent to Poole to board the ferry to Jersey.
The ferry crossing takes about four-and-a-half hours, and while value wise it may be a little more expensive than flying, the convenience of having your own car is worth the extra. The ferry is quite a relaxed way to travel, with comfortable seating plus restaurants and a duty free shop, as well as allowing you the chance to walk about and stretch your legs.
Just a 10-minute drive from the Jersey ferry terminal in St Helier we arrived at our hotel, the large four star Hotel De France, previously the Imperial Hotel, with spacious, well-equipped and comfortable rooms, as well as the added benefit of a fantastic modern spa and pool.
After checking into the hotel and arguing about which route to take, we took a 20-minute walk into town and onto St Aubin’s Bay with beautiful views across the harbour and the Elizabeth Castle. It’s possible to take a motorised water vehicle to the castle at certain tide times or walk there at low tide. We had a lovely barefoot walk on the three-mile white sandy beach, which soon put us into a relaxed holiday mode.
After our long walk we hobbled back to the welcome of our hotel and couldn’t wait to check out the spa with its three plunge pools, sauna, steam room and very decent sized swimming pool.
Fully chilled out and feeling peckish we then decided to venture no further than the hotel bistro, which finished our first evening in Jersey off perfectly.
Refreshed and renewed from our comfortable night’s sleep we decided to venture out with the plan of hiring bikes to cycle the coastal routes. Having driven to St Brelade’s Bay we soon realised the folly of our choice due to the rather steep looking inclines so resorted instead to a two-hour coffee break and relaxed looking at the sea from one of hotels nestled along the promenade! What a great place to while away the hours with a glass of wine, coffee or sumptuous seafood in one of the restaurants along the front.
Having abandoned the bike idea, having heard that the golf on Jersey was very good, our next mission was to find a quality golf course to play nine-holes…and we happened upon the La Moye Golf Club (lamoyegolfclub.co.uk), a high quality members golf course with stunning coastal views, which allows you to book for a round without being a member.
There are six golf courses, varying from pay and play courses to top class courses like La Moye or The Jersey Royal. With the temperate climate (the most sunny days in Great Britain) Jersey is a good choice for a golf break with breathtaking views. Our golf mission more successfully completed than our cycling challenge, we returned to the car and headed along the West coast to St Ouen’s Bay with its long wild sandy beach, a favourite with surfers and some of the best surf in Europe.
We then turned inland to discover St Peter’s Windmill, the home of internationally-renowned jewellery designer, Catherine Best (catherinebest.com). The windmill, which dates back to 1837, was the last surviving working tower windmill on Jersey.
We finished off our day in Jersey’s coastal harbour village of St Aubin, which is curved around one of the island’s original harbours, with a drink in a bar overlooking the fishing boats and then dinner at Bon Viveur, a very friendly and lively Italian restaurant.
Now feeling totally relaxed and in holiday mode, today’s plan was to explore the East coast. Driving round Jersey is a feast for the eyes as at every turn the scenery changes dramatically. On the coastal route from St Helier to the East it was almost like a scene from the end of the world – rocks strewn across the sand like a volcanic eruption has just happened.
The renowned Jersey Zoo was next on our list. Founded by the naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, the Durrell Wildlife Trust is a sanctuary for some of the rarest animals in the world where you have the chance to get up close with 132 species, from the tiniest fruit bat to huge gorillas.
Back behind the wheel again, we headed northwards and dropped down to Bonne Nuit Bay. From here we walked along the well-maintained yet wild and stunning coastal path with its steep drops plunging into rugged coves with azure coloured water, benches and viewpoints along the way. We rounded off our day with a nice meal at the Jersey Crab Shank, St Brelade followed by a sunset coffee at the Atlantic Hotel.
With just the morning left to make the most of our time on this delightful island, we strolled around its capital St Helier, visiting the market, browsing the shops and watching life go by as we relaxed over a drink in one of the coffee bars.
Plan Your Stay
There are many reasons to visit Jersey and much to do for everyone.
• INDEX were guests of Condor Ferries who operate a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its fast ferry Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth. To book and check current prices, visit condorferries.com or call 0345 609 1024.
• We stayed at the four star Hotel De France, a classic French chateau façade with impressive modern facilities.
St Saviour’s Road, Jersey JE1 7XP, call +44 1534 614000 or visit defrance.co.uk
• For more information on Jersey (including accommodation), visit jersey.com
We have teamed up with Condor Ferries to offer readers a special discount for travel this summer. Book a return trip with your car to Jersey or Guernsey on any Condor sailing from Poole or Portsmouth and receive a 10% reduction off published fares. Offer applies to all bookings made between 1st-21st July and for travel from 1st July-30th September 2019. Simply log onto condorferries.co.uk and enter promotion code INDEXOFFER in the ‘Your details’ section when booking to receive the discount. T&Cs apply.
Images: Top: © Andy Le Gresley Photography; middle & bottom: Jersey Tourism