Alderney Cliffs Photo by Neil Howard via Flickr Creative Commons

The outdated “bucket and shovel” image of a beach escape in the Channel Islands hides the well-kept secrets of many other things to do across the archipelago. From exploring ancient castles, churches, mansions, and fascinating museums covering everything from the prehistoric sites to the German occupation, to adventure sports including skydiving, flying, surfing, climbing, abseiling, and hiking and tours by bike and motorbike, there’s never a dull moment. Boat cruises are a great way to get an overview of the islands.

The tiny coves, bays, and stunning beaches are a major attraction for family visits, and each island has its own gems waiting to be discovered. Getting around is easy, and inter-island boat travel ensures visitors can take in the unique delights of feudal Sark and miniscule Herm. The charming Jersey and Guernsey main towns of St Helier and St Peter’s Port are havens of heritage and sophistication, and trips to the nearby French mainland can be easily arranged.

Also known as Jersey Zoo, Durrell Wildlife Park was founded by author and nature enthusiast Gerald Durrell, and has actively saved a number of species from extinction. A visit to the important contributor to world wildlife conservation is a learning process, as well as a fun activity for all ages, and most of the species represented have a remarkable degree of freedom in a natural wooded habitat. Visitors can stay at the Durrell Wildlife Park via bookings at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Boat cruises are as much fun as playing in the water, with charters around and between the Channel Islands, as well as to France, a popular activity. Birders will be thrilled by the vast number of puffins on the smaller, uninhabited islands. The cliffs at Herm and the views of the islands from the sea are unsurpassed. Bumblebee Boat Cruises, based at St Peter Port in Guernsey, offers coastal, French mainland, and customized boat trips.

For the ultimate aerial thrill, Jersey is the island to visit for flying lessons and skydiving. Trial flying lessons in a Piper Cherokee, an aerobatics flight in a de Havilland Chipmunk, or sightseeing flights around the Channel Islands or to the Normandy D-Day landing beaches can all be booked with the Jersey Aero Club. The facility also offers full flight training courses. Jersey Odyssey gives adventure-lovers the chance to skydive over the island with an instructor.

For the ultimate adrenaline rush, Jersey’s Absolute Adventures provides abseiling instruction and experiences on towers and cliffs around St Brelade’s Bay. It’s safe, thrilling, addictive, and even offers views of France on the horizon. The same company also provides rock-climbing adventures at every level, from beginner to experienced, on some of the best sites in Europe.

For fans of the world’s most glamorous motorcycles, Jersey’s Limobikes offers an unmissable experience – a guided motorbike tour of the Channel Islands on a Harley Davidson! Riding one of these magnificent machines is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a special occasion treat. Just the sound of the bike’s ultra-high torque engine is thrilling.

The island of Guernsey is more laid-back than its neighbor, Jersey, but has just as many fun activities. For daytrip visitors, there are guided tours by coach and minibus around sites of interest, as well as private taxi tours and__ cycle tours__. Tours by bike are the best way to get to know the island, via its back roads leading to pretty villages and tiny coastal tracks with superb sea views. Guernsey Bicycle Group is a good bet for prearranged tours.

Click here to learn about Attractions in the Channel Islands