What To Do & Where To Stay In The Channel Islands

Beautiful beaches, great camping sites, plenty of outdoor activities… those in the know will tell you the Channel Islands are an under-rated holiday destination in the UK. If you’re after an alternative to Cornwall or Devon this year, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm – all of which straddle the gap between Britain and France – are definitely worth considering. Here’s what you should know beforehand…
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Jersey

The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and vistas in the country. You can fly to the island in 45 minutes or take a ferry across, which takes around three and a half hours. St Helier, the island’s capital, has a lovely laidback feel and is where you’ll find the best pubs and places to eat – Samphire is a top choice, while Ocean Restaurant is renowned for its seafood. Visitors should drive around the windswept, rugged coastline and make a beeline for the south and west coast beaches where you can spot castle ruins and interesting architecture. Portelet Beach is a particular highlight, as is Plémont. Here, there are plenty of outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy, including kayaking, surfing, coasteering and wildlife tours.

Just off King Street, the island’s main shopping thoroughfare, you’ll find Locke’s Stories. Housed in a beautifully refurbished National Trust building, it's always busy and bustling, serving up creative antipodean-style brunch dishes and great coffee. Every now and then they host ‘Locke-in’ nights, often pairing with an independent brewery or wine producer to offer a unique dining / drinking experience. Meanwhile, offering refined but relaxed beachside dining in St Brelades, The Oyster Box comes with panoramic views of one of the island’s most popular and beautiful bays. The outside bar area is perfect for pre-dinner drinks and cocktails.

Alternatively, head east to the picturesque harbour of Gorey to find Sumas, a firm favourite with both locals and visitors. This intimate restaurant has a contemporary seaside feel with stunning views of Gorey Castle and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Chef James Gordon has recently taken the helm, serving up modern British dishes and showcasing the best of Jersey’s seafood along with ingredients foraged from the island’s coast and countryside. Finally, arguably the most beautiful place you’ll ever tuck into a wood fired pizza, there are only two ways to reach Portlet Bay Cafe, down a lot of stairs, or by boat. Whichever way you choose, the food is always delicious and the outlook stunning.

Where To Stay:

St Brelade’s Bay Hotel 
Located on St Brelade’s beachfront, this boutique hotel has 77 rooms. With beautiful sea views, the hotel is set on five acres of gardens and has been recently refurbished, too. There’s a modern spa with an indoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant with outdoor dining. A great choice for families, the hotel has both indoor and outdoor play facilities, and it’s a short walk to the beach, too.

Visit StBreladesBayHotel.com

Palms Campsite
If you’d rather head on a campervan trip or make the most of the great outdoors, Palms Campsite is a great place to set up your tent. Just a mile from the beautiful St Ouen’s Bay, the site is ideal for beach walkers, with plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby. The campsite offers morning yoga classes in the summer and the onsite natural therapies team offer a variety of wellness treatments, such as reflexology and Indian head massages. With the third largest tidal range in the world, surfers should make the most of the waves nearby.

Visit Jersey.com 

Longueville Manor
If five-star luxury is your thing, then Longueville Manor is it. The only AA Five Red Star hotel on the island, since its opening in 1949, it’s been independently owned and managed. Guests can expect a sophisticated yet relaxed home from home feeling, with exceptional hospitality, understated service and extraordinary attention to detail. The food and wine served in the on-site restaurant come highly recommended, too.
 
Visit LonguevilleManor.com
 
The Royal Yacht
For those looking for something a little more modern, The Royal Yacht – set in the heart of vibrant St Helier – offers what they call plenty of cosmopolitan flair. With an award-winning spa, three on-site restaurants and bars and a range of packages available to suit your individual needs, this one’s great for a family stay.
 
Visit TheRoyalYacht.com
 
Greenhills Country House Hotel
Want some true peace and quiet? Greenhills Country House Hotel is nestled in a peaceful rural setting, with only 33 rooms in total, all of which have been decorated in traditional English country home colours and tones. The main wing of the hotel dates back to 1674, with the property now offering a unique blend of luxury and traditional charm. The food at the on-site restaurant is also said to be exceptional.
 
Visit SeymourHotels.com
 
The Somerville
When it comes to sweeping views over St Aubin’s harbour, it doesn’t get much better than The Somerville. The family-owned property is nestled on the hillside overlooking the quaint village, with 59 elegantly furnished rooms and all the modern conveniences you could want. Their newly refurbished Tides restaurant is an island favourite serving fresh local seafood, British meats and fine wines, while the Voyager lounge bar is the most recent addition and boasts the best view of any cocktail bar in the area.
 
Visit SomervilleJersey.com

Guernsey

The second largest Channel Island is Guernsey. Having enjoyed a huge boost in tourism over the last few years, visitors can now expect to find a lively food scene, unique shopping areas and beautiful beaches. Flatter and less rugged than Jersey, much of the island can be explored by foot, though it’s worth hiring a car if you want to see the best bits. Guernsey can be reached by plane in just over an hour but early booking is recommended to secure flights during the summer months.

Once there, visitors should make a beeline for the small town of St Peter Port for the best seafood restaurants – the Fleur du Jardin overlooking the port is great for a pub lunch, while Octupus and The Hook also come highly recommended. If you're in the mood for fine dining, however, then it doesn't get better than Le Nautique. Venturing further afield, Portfiner is popular with surfers, Le Jaonnet has several hidden coves to explore and Beaucette Marina is definitely worth the visit – locals say Saltwater is the place to eat there.

Where To Stay:

Bella Luce
There are a few good hotels to choose from on the island, but if you want to skip the crowds, book a room at Bella Luce. This family-run hotel has lots of character and is set in a historic and grand Norman house, just a short walk from Guernsey’s coastline. Rooms are simple yet stylish, with everything you need for a comfortable stay – the ‘Luxury Guest Rooms’ come with four-poster beds, en-suite bathrooms, and garden views. As well as an on-site restaurant, bar, and spa, the hotel also has its own gin distillery which hosts tours on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Visit BellaLuceHotel.com

Alderney

 

As part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Alderney is the third largest Channel Island. Easily reached in a 20-minute flight from Guernsey, many visitors take in the island as a secondary stop off – the best things to see and do can be completed in a weekend. Alderney is only three miles long, so one of the best ways to discover the island is to head on a walking tour – specifically one run by the Alderney Wildlife Trust, to see the gannets, puffins and blonde hedgehogs. Alternatively you can hire bikes – inlcuding electric models – from Cycle & Surf to cover more ground.

Saye and Braye are known for their white-sand beaches, while Clonque has lots of rockpools teeming with life – ideal if you’ve got kids in tow. Don’t miss the beautiful Arch beach, either, where you can spot Victorian fortresses and a lighthouse at low tide or walk through the rocks to the adjacent Corblets Bay. As for the food, Cantina and Bacchus are great for tapas style dining but don't forget to watch the sunset over Fort Clonque. Post-beach, The Moorings is a great place to tuck into pizza on the terrace while listening to the tune of a live band. August is a good time visit when the island hosts its annual carnival, wildlife festival and sailing regatta.

Where To Stay:

The Blonde Hedgehog

Located in the quiet cobblestone streets of St Anne, The Blonde Hedgehog is a lovely boutique hotel. With nine bedrooms and suites spread across the main house and a detached three-bedroom cottage, each room offers luxury interiors with rustic charm. The on-site restaurant has a farm-to-table ethos, and each dish is made using locally sourced produce. The hotel staff have great knowledge of the surrounding area, too, and can help guests plan excursions and island tours, whether you want to head on a kayaking trip or go wildlife watching.

Visit BlondeHedgehog.com

The Georgian House

If you want to stay in Alderney for a couple of nights, head to The Georgian House in St Anne. The family-run hotel has a traditional feel, with four cosy bedrooms, a pub and a contemporary restaurant. The oldest hotel in Alderney, the interiors have been given a stylish update while original property features like beams and exposed brick works remain. The pub and restaurant have options for lunch and dinner, and guests can also cosy up in front of the fire in the living room with a pot of tea and homemade scones. 

Visit GeorgianAlderney.com

The Victoria

Under the same ownership as The Georgian House, The Victoria has recently undergone a renovation, and now offers a a coastal feel with plenty of welcome families. A whole house booking (where you're cooked for by the property's host and chef Ally) is great for families and couples, alike.

Visit TheVictoria.gg
 

Herm

HERM.COM

Not far from Alderney, Herm is another Guernsey island worth a visit. It can be reached via a short boat ride from Guernsey and can be completely explored in just a day or two. It has a distinct village-like feel and is perhaps the most scenic of all the Channel Islands. It’s only a mile and a half long, but there are several nice pubs and restaurants to visit. The best way to explore is to head on a coastal walk starting at the stunning Belvoir Beach, then follow the circular beach route. Don’t miss Shell Beach – loved by locals for its clear waters and sand made of tiny shell fragments. The island is car-free, so be sure to pack good walking shoes. 

Where To Stay:

Seagull Campsite

Herm’s hotel scene has some catching up to do in comparison to its neighbouring islands, but the camping facilities are excellent. During peak season over the summer months, campers can stay for two nights at Seagull Campsite to appreciate the beautiful views of Belvoir Bay. The shower and toilet facilities have recently been refurbished and daily groceries can be ordered from the campsite shop. If you don’t fancy cooking, The Ship Inn and the Mermaid Tavern are both a short walk away. Here, you can even hire tents for up to eight people if you’re not bringing your own.

Visit Herm.com

The White House Hotel

Locals will tell you this is definitely worth a stay – one describes it as 'the' place to stay on the island, in fact – just be prepared for some old-school interiors and traditional facilities. The good news is, those not keen on venturing far to feed a family every night can rest assured the dishes served on site are delicious. The gardens have also won awards for their beauty, plus the hotel has eight dog-friendly rooms so your four-legged friend can come along, too. There's even a swimming pool if you're planning on visiting at the height of summer.

Visit Herm.com

Sark

Considered the crown jewel of the Channel Islands, Sark is renowned for its unique landscape. The island is car-free, and a visit here feels like stepping back in time thanks to regular appearances of horse-drawn carriages and the historic buildings. It’s only three miles long, but there are several quiet beaches and coves to explore – the stunning Grand Grève could easily be mistaken for a secluded Greek beach. Seigneurie Gardens, home to rare species of tropical plants, is worth a visit, as is Window in the Rock – a cool landmark with epic cliff views. If you visit one restaurant during a trip, make it La Sablonnerie which serves delicious local produce.

Where To Stay:

Stock’s Hotel 

Stock’s Hotel is set in a historic building that dates back to the 16th century. Today, guests can choose from 23 stylish bedrooms and suites spread over the main building and two smaller houses on the estate. Meals are served in the elegant main restaurant, and guests can also dine al fresco at the Poolside Bistro. Be sure to visit the cider press in the garden which serves fresh drinks during the summer months – and just be aware it's a retro choice, although the magic and unique charm of the island more than make up for it.

Visit StocksHotel.com

The Details

Current Travel Info: The Channel Islands are currently on the UK’s ‘Green List’, meaning you won’t have to quarantine upon your return. Visitors will need to complete PCR tests and will also need to fill out a registration form on arrival, though rules vary for each island. 

When To Go: The summer months are a popular time to visit, when temperatures are ideal for snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming.

Average Temperature: Temperatures are similar to that in the UK. From July to October, expect slightly warmer weather, with average temperate between 20-22°C.

Currency: Sterling is the official currency, though Euros are widely accepted too.

Time: Local time is GMT.

 

*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.

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