Guernsey is one of those places I’d always heard about but never visited. As a British Island, I assumed it would be largely in parallel with England. I was wrong, in just about every way.
Let me explain.
Despite being only a 35minute flight (if you’re on the jet. Aurigny has one in its fleet, it’s slightly longer if you’re on an ATR) from Gatwick, Guernsey takes huge influence from France, apparent literally as soon as you touch down because the weather is milder and the road names are in French. That, combined with the size of the Island (just 65 square km) gives an immediate sense of escapism and holiday, reachable in less time than the average morning commute.
Where to stay
I stayed at Fermain Valley Hotel on the east coast of the island, near St Peters Port. The secluded hotel is nestled in the hills, up from Fermain Bay – from my room I had uninterupted views over the lushious greenery and down to the ocean.
The sun terrace shares similar views, and a short wiggle through the trees takes you to the indoor pool and sauna. The vibe of the hotel is cosy and relaxed – I was still discovering new nooks by the time I checked out on day three. The main restaurant, Ocean Greek Eats, prides itself on using fresh, local produce; and there is also a steak restaurant called Rock Garden, plus Buhu the Latina cantina. The tea rooms (arguably my favourite nook) are perfect for curling up with a book after a bracing swim or walk.
As an island, Guernsey is very forward on sustainability, which was clear throughout the hotel – things like the refillable toiletries rather than individual minis in each room.
There are 7 Channel Islands in total, and three of the most popular are reachable from Guernsey – Alderney, Sark and Herm. I visited Herm via the Travel Trident, which sails multiple times daily and takes around 20 minutes.
The island measures just 2 square km, with a plethora of bays to explore. There are no cars on the island, and with a population of only around 50, there is an instant calming effect as you disembark.
There are kiosks serving ice cream, drinks and snacks at Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay, and a small cluster of buildings around the harbour. And I really do mean small – the White House Hotel, the Mermaid Tavern, and the gift shop. A day on Herm is the ultimate way to escape the hustle of daily life and slow things down.
The very first sight I visited in Guernsey was the Little Chapel, situated in Les Vauxbelets valley, Saint Andrew. Built and re-built three times by Brother Deodat in the early 1900s, the shrine is decorated in pebbles and bits of broken china. It’s teeny tiny, with twisting steps leading to increasingly miniature rooms but you can actually get married there. Although inviting guests would be a struggle.
Guernsey is also literally seeped in history. The island was heavily fortified during World War II – many outposts and bunkers remain, dotted around the coastline. The demilitarisation of the Channel Islands in 1940 lead to German occupation, and there are museums and relics signifying the impact of this. Perhaps most notable are the Occupation Museum and German Underground Hospital plus maze of tunnels covering an area of approx 6,950 square metres.
Something that became increasingly obvious the longer I spent on Guernsey was the growing popularity of watersports amongst locals and tourists. I met with AJ from SUP Guernsey at Pembroke Bay for a 1-2-1 paddle-boarding session that covered everything from technique on the water, to identifying local wildlife and a brief historical tour of our little bit of coastline.
Sea swimming is also a big thing on Guernsey – I met with local PT & gym owner Jon Le Tocq for a couple of sessions.
Where to eat
Despite a relatively small population, Guernsey has a large selection of restaurants and bars – by the time I left the island, I had enjoyed Italian at Gusto, fresh fish at Octopus, steak at Balthazaar, and just about every cocktail imaginable in-between.
I’ll be posting more about my trip over the coming weeks 🙂