Jersey — Overview
Sometimes referred to as a ‘little piece of France dropped into the sea and picked up by England’, while the analogy is fairly accurate, it doesn’t do Jersey’s wonderfulness justice. The largest and most southerly of the Channel Islands has much to shout about, namely its climate and beaches. The last vestige of the Dukedom of Normandy—proudly not of England, or English even, but forever part of the British realm—Jersey boasts stunning natural landscapes, quality eating, and the Jersey cow.
Jersey has the best beaches of the British islands, and certainly the most favorable weather, so it’s no wonder Brits, Francophiles, and North American visitors flock here in drones. There are wide bays in the south, rocky shores to the north, and great swimming and water sports all around. The interior is equally spellbinding with a beautiful countryside and miles of walking trails past an array of historic forts and buildings.
Most major attractions are in and around the cool capital of St Helier, including Elizabeth Castle, which resides on a small island across from the harbor. Farther north is the even more impressive Mont Orgueil with a lofty setting over the water. All over Jersey are pleasant villages and orchid farms and it is a pleasure to drive here (on the left) when it’s not busy. Jersey Zoo is one of the best of its kind anywhere, while the Jersey Museum reveals a long history and the War Tunnels tell the story of the German invasion.
The hospitality of Jersey ‘beans,’ the name for the locals, is second to none. The people are welcoming and go out of their way to please—just don’t refer to them as English or, God forbid, French. The cuisine is a fascinating blend of the two cuisines which gives you the chance to sample some of the best oysters and then wash them down with a spot of tea. Hotels range from four and five-star beachfront resorts with plush spas to cute country cottages. Jersey is expensive, but a good value for the money can be found as it is considered high class living and the service is superb.
Day trips take in the wonderful coast and the relatively nearby islands of Guernsey and Sark, two of the other Channel Islands, for fishing, windsurfing, and surfing off St Ouen’s Bay. If you want to stay on land, you’ll have plenty to do. It is small, but with the leisurely pace, you can spend an entire day exploring Jersey, just nine miles end to end.
Getting around is best done by car rental, but you can also make easy ground by cycling. There’s a good selection of public buses which are cheap, and surprisingly well-priced taxis serve the airport and run between all major attractions. Ferries operate between nearby islands, and the UK and French mainlands.
- Explore St Helier’s waterfront and shopping area
- Bask in the intense Jersey sun on beautiful St Brelade’s Bay
- Admire the history at Mont Orgueil Castle and other forts around the island
- Learn about the German Occupation during WWII at the Jersey War Tunnels
- Take in the best of the island by car rental or from the seat of a bicycle
- Walk part of the huge network of trails or cycling the Green Lanes
- Engage in the excellent surfing and windsurfing at St Ouen’s Bay on the west coast
- Soak up the atmosphere and color of the Battle of the Flowers Carnival in August