When on holiday, you may like the idea of leaving the stress of public transport behind – but Jersey’s bus network is superb. Reliable and with great coverage – particularly in summer, it saves the expense and hassle of car hire. Additionally, some companies offer eco discounts for those arriving by bus, bike or on foot.
Jersey holidays seems to have a reputation as quiet retreats for older folk, to drink cream teas and potter along beaches – but that’s changing. Constant winds, dramatic coastline, native forests and regular swells mean that it is becoming a haven for adventure-seekers, with kite, wind and traditional surfing, abseiling, rock climbing, wild foraging and overnight “survival” camps, which teach fascinating bush skills.
It’s often assumed that such a small island with a population of 100,000 would feel cramped – but most visitors are surprised by the amount of space during their Jersey holiday. Its population is concentrated into the cities, and the northern and western regions in particular are sparsely developed, with secret beaches, empty lanes and a wonderful sense of space and nature.
Some blame Jersey’s isolation, others its wonderful light, reflected off the ever-present ocean, for the island’s concentration of artists. Whatever the reason, the art scene is flourishing, and there are many festivals, open studio days, dedicated shops and pop up stall, where you can meet the maestros and purchase their Genuine Jersey paintings, sculptures, pottery, woodwork, jewellery and more.
A shocking antidote to Jersey’s escapist vibe, the Jersey War Tunnels offer a terrible glimpse of reality. The museum is housed in an underground hospital, which is surrounded by tunnels hewn under hellish conditions by some 60,000 slaves during the German occupation. An estimated 10,000 bodies are buried in the walls, and the museum tells the story of those who fell. It’s absolutely gripping.
Rock pools, Jersey ice cream and castle-worthy golden sand give Jersey’s coast a classic seaside feel, while its delicious, locally-sourced seafood, beachside cafes and empty stretches of dunes will appeal to those who want a little more from their Jersey beach holiday. Bays range from the well developed – with hotels, volleyball and sun loungers – to the secret, and all have exceptionally clean, sapphire water.
As budget airlines have opened up Europe to those seeking accessible sun and sand on a shoestring, Jersey is no longer the go-to island it was in the 1960s. This means, however, that it has had to raise its standards to keep tourists coming – so the hotels, attractions and restaurants that remain have honed their offerings and service to keep up with the competition, and keep visitors impressed with their Jersey holiday.
For kids, Jersey can seem like one huge playground. Rock pools, fairytale fortresses, cycle trails and the War Tunnels are all there to be explored – before heading to the beach for an extra creamy Jersey ice cream. This is the kind of old fashioned holiday that existed in your storybooks – but with the more modern thrills of surfing, paddle boarding and coasteering.
Jersey’s most popular beach knows how to attract the crowds, with beach volleyball, pedalos, trampolines, cafes and water sports – and if you dare to drive you’ll be queuing for parking spaces. If you prefer to gaze up at the sky than at beach umbrellas, and would rather not be battered with beach balls, you’re better off seeking out one of the more secluded bays.
The famed potatoes are a reminder of Jersey’s sought-after local produce. But to stop at its tubers would be a mistake – there is a wealth of non-branded delicacies including foraged fruit, native fish and hand-picked shellfish, such as oysters and scallops. During your Jersey holiday you can forget about food miles – you’re often talking about “food metres”.
At just 14km by 8km, there’s certainly no need to rush around Jersey in a car. With beach trails, orchid-filled meadows and scenic cliff top paths, the journey is often as spectacular as the destination, and travelling by bike or on foot allows you to appreciate this. Additionally, 48km of Jersey’s roads have a 15mph speed limit – prioritising slow travel over speed.