Guernsey is an often-forgotten island that has a great deal to offer, including adventure and delicious cuisine
Geographically closer to France than England, Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands. Its 60,000 residents welcome visitors with open arms into their approx. 24sq miles of narrow lanes, postcard-perfect houses and beautiful landscape. You can sense the slower pace of life straight away which helps you relax and enjoy your idyllic surroundings from the moment you arrive.
The UK is well-served with flights to Guernsey - from Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Exeter, Birmingham and Manchester. You can also take your own car. Condor Ferries operates routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth (www.condorferries.co.uk).
Driving and currency tips on the island
Three top tips for the island.
- If you have hired a car or brought your own car over don’t forget to use the parking disc to display the time when you park the car. A hire car will usually supply one but when taking your own car over you can purchase one on the ferry.
- Guernsey has a filter in turn system at certain junctions. On approaching this just means that cars take it in turns to make their turn.
- Guernsey has its own pound notes and coins. Don’t forget to change your money before you leave the island or ask for English change as you can’t use it back on the mainland
If you’ve only got two to three days, start by driving around the island or, for the more active, cycle around the coast.
Top things to see and coastal walks
Start off in St Peter Port; the beautiful, cobbled streets are a delight to walk along but be sure to wear flat, comfortable shoes. It’s a mix of quirky shops and high street names and full of charm. Set on the water with the local and visiting marinas in front of the main parade of shops, there is plenty to occupy you even if just boat and people watching. If you fancy a dose of history, Victor Hugo’s house (whilst exiled in Guernsey) is definitely worth a visit (Hauteville House; 01481 723552; www.victorhugo.gg). Another historical visit is Castle Cornet, Guernsey’s ancient harbour fortress (www.museum.guernsey.net/castle.htm).
The second stop can be reached either by car or by foot. Guernsey is renowned for its beautiful coastal walks. If you want to walk the coastal path from St Peter Port to the West Coast you should allow 8 hours, but I prefer to do it in parts rather than all in one go. Fermain Beach Café (Fermain Bay, St Peter Port; 01481 238636) is one of those hidden gems that’s hard to find until you stumble across it. It can be reached by car but beware as there is no car parking so it’s best to park further along the coast and walk some of the coastal path, either from St Peter Port or closer in. Tucked away in Fermain Bay, it’s an idyllic place to sit outside and have lunch or a coffee. The seafood paella is fantastic. They also have an indoor restaurant which is open in the evenings too and well worth a visit.
If you choose to have only a brief coffee pit-stop and continue walking the coastal path you will come to Jerbourg Point, which is one of my favourite spots on the island. From the monument here you can see the islands of Herm, Brecghou, Sark and Jethou and the town of St Peter Port. It also provides a stunning setting for The Auberge Restaurant (Jerbourg Road, St Martins; 01481 238485; www.theauberge.gg). 180 degree views make the already fabulous gastronomic delights even more perfect. If you then feel the need to walk off your food from this point, the coastal path from Jerbourg Point to Petit Bot Bay is, in my opinion, one of the most charming parts of the coast. The walk is undulating and has a few teashops scattered along the way, taking you through Moulin Huet Bay, Saints Bay and Icart Point.
For those driving from Jerbourg Point, make for the West Coast where the road is right next to the sea, giving you a completely different vista of the island. Lihou Island on the West Coast is worth stopping at and walking around but make sure you check the tides first as it can only be reached at low tide www.lihouisland.com. Back in the car, if you continue along the West Coast you will reach Cobo Bay (Cobo Coast Road, Castel; 01481 257102; www.cobobayhotel.com). This is a great place to pause and watch the sunset. If you’re a lover of cakes then Cobo Tea Room is just a bit further down (Cobo Coast Road; 01481 253366).
For the more adventurous
If you’re adventurous then why not try kayaking or coasteering. Most of the adventures start from Petit Bot Bay. It’s a great way to explore the coastline from the water. Try Outdoor Guernsey (01481 267627; www.outdoorguernsey.co.uk).
Island of Sark
The other boat trip worth doing is the ferry to Sark (01481 724059; www.sarkshippingcompany.com). The smallest of the four main islands, Sark has no cars and offers a unique and enchanting environment. It’s worth hiring a bike (available in the main high street) to see as much as you can of the island. Cycle over to Little Sark but remember to dismount on La Coupee (why? it’s a narrow, sometimes very windy path). La Sablonnerie (01481 832061; www.sablonneriesark.com) is a stunning little hotel on Little Sark with a restaurant and tea garden. A perfect place to stop for lunch and to enjoy the tranquillity of the island whilst fuelling up before cycling back.
Guernsey is full of amazing restaurants. For a great location, fabulous service and, above all, mouth-watering food try Pier 17 (01481 720823; www.pier17restaurant.com) located on Albert Pier, St Peter Port.
Where to stay
Finally, depending on what sort of accommodation you are looking for, I would recommend either The Old Government House Hotel (St Ann’s Place, St Peter Port). This offers stunning views over the harbour and is ideally located in the heart of St Peter Port, a short walk from all the amenities. Or, alternatively, Fermain Valley Hotel (Fermain Lane), situated high up above Fermain Bay. Both are four-star properties offering all you would need for your stay on this beautiful island.
I hope you fall in love with the island as much as I have.