Military fortresses, mystical shores and magnificent seafood
If you had to put money on guessing where in the beautiful British Isles boasts the sunniest spot, just where would you risk your hard earned cash? Newquay? Margate? Brighton maybe? You’d be wrong. For yet another year this prestigious accolade goes to the unique isle of Jersey. Tucked into the Bay of St. Malo and just 14 miles from Normandy, the largest of the Channel Islands enjoys a continental climate and a melded heritage. A fusion of Britain and Brittany. A Gallic twist on your staycation.
With miles of golden beaches, plenty of outdoor adventures and easy access from the UK by ferry or flight, Jersey is a dream summer destination. From October though visitor numbers begin to drop off and Jersey returns to its most authentic self until numbers rise again in March. It is worth noting that with 2,379 annual hours of sunshine (2021 records), the low season forecast remains kind, and although you may well find some days of rain, drizzle and wind, overall autumn and winter are great time to enjoy this rich and varied landscape without the crowds and at the best prices.
Keep in mind that some of the popular attractions like the Jersey War Tunnels, La Hougue Bie Archaeological Museum; and Elizabeth Castle close in winter, so do check if those are sites you really want to experience. However, there are so many year-round opportunities combined with some unique low season events that you’ll never be short of a packed itinerary. The small capital St. Helier remains bustling throughout the year. It’s an historic centre, a charming blend of the familiar logos of Boots, WHSmith and Marks & Spencer mixed with exclusive boutiques and stalls offering the best continental produce. So, jump aboard a short flight and experience beautiful walks, legendary golf courses, fascinating Neolithic sites, and local gin distilleries. Oh, and mouth-watering cuisine served up in Michelin-starred restaurants, traditional country pubs or outdoor street cafes.
Where has all the Water Gone?
Thanks to Jersey’s petite size, just 9 by 5 miles, you’re never more than a 15 minute drive from a beach. And what beaches they are! From the north’s towering heather clad cliffs and the southern golden sands, there are nearly 30 beaches to explore. A favourite is St. Ouen on the west coast, a popular surfing haven and the perfect spot for sunset views. Keep in mind that Jersey has the third largest tidal range in the world meaning the island doubles in size when the tide is out, revealing a dramatic lunar landscape of sailing boats perched high in dry harbours, rock pools for crabbing, and seabed walks. Take the low tide causeway to the iconic La Corbiere Lighthouse, surrounded by WWII monuments or explore gullies as you walk to Seymour Tower, an 18th century fortress a mile offshore. Join a kayak tour and look for caves, remote beaches, and bottle nosed dolphins. Learn to scuba dive or join a fishing expedition seeking the freshest ever seafood, brown crab, winkles, and lobsters.
I Would Walk 500 Miles
Jersey is a great place for getting outdoors with 500 miles of walks on your doorstep and low season is the perfect time for a hike before a well-deserved pint of Liberation Ale in one of the island’s many traditional pubs. Jersey’s National Park is a beautiful place to explore nature with a diverse landscape and opportunities to spot wildlife. Check out the National Trust for Jersey’s free downloadable pdf for self-guided walks. A favourite ramble is along the coastal path to the spectacular Devil’s Hole blowhole, stopping by one of Jersey’s oldest pubs, the historic Priory Inn, with its cosy log fire. Low season is the very best period for birdwatchers with the mild winter climate, strategic position and wide tidal range acting as a magnet to for both migrating and residential birds like little egrets, Brent geese and puffins. Birders should definitely check out the Jersey Wetland Centre located on the west side of the island overlooking St. Ouen’s Pond. To go even further, explore the island on two wheels. Jersey has miles of bicycle friendly routes as well as an extensive network of 15mph ‘Green Lanes’ which will take you safely through the island’s countryside.
The shoreline of Jersey is littered with wonderful examples of medieval fortifications, remnants of a strategic past, an era when Jersey was defended as a site of great importance in countless battles between the forces of Europe. Mount Orgueil, one of the finest examples of a medieval castle has cast its shadow over the beautiful fishing village of Gorey for over 800 years and remains open in November and December. Although Elizabeth Castle closes for winter at the end of October, keen photographers have achieved some spectacularly dramatic low season images of the magnificent fortress set on its rocky islet against a foreboding sky. Also very much in evidence is the more recent history which saw the Channel Islands become the only British territory taken by Hitler’s troops. Although the period is resigned to history, there are many islanders who will tell tales of those long years of extreme hardship. Interested tourists can follow the Liberation Route Forced Workers Trail which introduces 20 locations linked to the experiences of wartime foreign labourers. Over their five year occupation 11,000 German soldiers built their battery positions, strongholds and bunkers which were never destroyed but rather have become assimilated into today’s post-war infrastructure. An example is the fortification line along the coast of St. Ouen, now a popular promenade for couples, dog walkers, runners and families.
As you can tell, Jersey is, well, Brit(ish) in practically every regard, but none more so than when we talk about the fabulous cuisine on the island. As such, we couldn’t fit all of the amazing culinary experiences on this page, so…we created a special page for you to find out more and set your tastebuds tingling! Click here to find out more…