5 reasons Jersey should be on your staycation bucket list
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Given that almost all international travel plans for the foreseeable future are currently on hold, it’s a great time to be thinking about holiday destinations closer to home — and there are some pretty exciting and unusual places within easy reach in the U.K. You’d be surprised what the British Isles have on offer — including the island of Jersey.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and situated in the English Channel — actually closer to France than to mainland U.K. In fact, on a clear day, you can see France from the north and northeast of the island. Given its close proximity, the island has both English and Gallic influences, including many towns and street names in French. It is a British Crown Dependency, meaning it’s not formally part of the U.K. and has its own parliament, financial and judicial systems. It also has its own banknotes and currency — the Jersey pound, which includes a £1 note — though it is very much tied to the British pound, which is also accepted on the island.
Around 100,000 people live on the island, which measures nine miles by five miles and is divided into 12 parishes. Though hiring a car is not essential, it allows visitors to explore what the island has to offer outside of the main cities, so I would definitely recommend doing so for at least part of your stay.
Jersey is known for quite a number of things — Jersey Royals (potatoes), Jersey cows and Jersey fudge, to name but a few — but there are five reasons in particular why Jersey should be on your list of potential holiday destinations.
1. It’s easy to get to
Because Jersey is an island, you’ll have to take a ferry or a flight to get there — both options are straightforward.
Following the collapse of Flybe, there are fewer flight options available to get from the mainland U.K. to Jersey, but there are still many regular scheduled flights with a range of airlines. The summer 2020 flight schedule covers flights from:
- Aberdeen — Loganair
- Belfast — EasyJet
- Birmingham — Blue Islands
- Bristol — Blue Islands
- East Midlands — Blue Islands
- Edinburgh — EasyJet
- Exeter — Blue Islands
- Glasgow — EasyJet
- Guernsey — Blue Islands
- Humberside — Loganair (Charter service only)
- Inverness — Loganair
- Leeds Bradford — Jet2
- Liverpool — EasyJet
- London City — Blue Islands
- London Gatwick — British Airways and Easyjet
- London Luton — EasyJet
- London Southend — EasyJet
- Manchester — EasyJet
- Newcastle — EasyJet
- Newquay — Blue Islands
- Norwich — Loganair
- Southampton — Blue Islands
There are also some nonstop flights from European cities with carriers like Lufthansa, Eurowings and Aer Lingus.
Some of these are weekly services but many are daily, allowing both weekend trips as well as longer holidays. Flight times from London are under an hour in the air and sometimes closer to 30 minutes.
For those wishing to take a more leisurely route to Jersey or want to take their own car, there are two ferry routes from the U.K. — a fast ferry from Poole in Dorset, which takes four-and-a-half hours, and a slower ferry from Portsmouth in Hampshire, which takes 10 hours and 20 minutes.
From Jersey, it’s also possible to take a ferry to Guernsey, its Channel Islands neighbour, or to Saint-Malo in France. All routes are run by Condor Ferries.
2. It’s warmer than most of the U.K.
Given its position in the English Channel, Jersey particularly benefits from the Gulf Stream, meaning it’s usually sunnier than most other parts of the U.K.
The Atlantic further regulates the weather, meaning Jersey has mild winters and warm summers. This benefits not just sunseekers but also the local flora and fauna. The annual Battle of Flowers takes place on the second Thursday of August and is one of the main summer events involving music, funfairs and a parade of flower floats through the streets of St Helier.
Average temperatures are about 20 degrees Celsius in July and August with a record high of 36 degrees Celsius. Outdoor activities are plentiful in Jersey and include something for everyone — whether it’s a round of golf at one of the six courses on the island, hiking or climbing.
Given the sunshine and number of beaches, Jersey is an ideal place for almost any watersport including surfing on what is known as 5 Mile Beach in St Ouen’s Bay.
3. Beautiful beaches and coastal areas
Jersey boasts a stunning array of beaches ranging from 5 Mile Beach to small bays that can only be reached on foot. Jersey also has one of the biggest tidal differences in the world, which can be up to 10 metres between low and high tide during extreme weather. That means many beaches that stretch far during low tide actually disappear at high tide.
Those exploring the island on its coastal walks will likely stumble across various fortifications and bunkers left over from the German occupancy during WWII.
At low tide, Elizabeth Castle, situated in the main bay of Saint Helier, the island’s capital, can be reached by foot whilst at high tide, it seems an almost distant “island”.
4. Great food
Given its proximity to France and the fact it’s an island with a thriving local fishing community, it should come as no surprise that visitors and locals can eat very well in Jersey.
In fact, the island has nearly 200 restaurants and used to boast more Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the British Isles with the exception of London. There are plenty of high-end eating options, including the long-established Longueville Manor and Bohemia, which still has a Michelin star.
It’s not just fancy eateries though. There are some great cafes in almost every bay that are the perfect spot for a hearty (or healthy) brunch after hitting the beach or exploring the island. A cheap and cheerful favourite of locals is the Thai Dicq Shack, which serves amazing Thai food on a slipway on wooden tables.
St Helier, St Aubin and Gorey village are the main towns with the highest concentration of restaurants. My advice would be to take an evening stroll from St Helier along the bay to St Aubin and explore the restaurant scene there. I highly recommend The Old Courthouse Inn.
5. Jersey is a home from home
Whilst the French influence can be seen, heard and felt, and while it’s a self-governing country with a proud history and traditions, a trip to Jersey is easy and cuts out some of the stress of foreign travel. There’s no need to try to master another language, change currency or work out how much something costs.
While being able to appreciate the local vibes, visitors will still be able to hit the beach with their favourite newspaper, tipple of choice and even enjoy traditional fish and chips or a Sunday roast with that “at home” feeling — but in a place a bit more refined than your typical British seaside resort.
Of course, we travel in order to experience completely different cultures and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. But at times, a bit of “being comfortable” mixed with great weather and the opportunity to explore new things isn’t a bad thing. And, of course, in the current environment, true foreign travel may not even be an option for some time to come.
Jersey is also compact and easy to get around — especially if you have access to a car. That’s not to say you can’t get lost down tiny country lanes, but getting back to St Helier or wherever you’ve chosen to base yourself is simple.
I was lucky to be based in Jersey for 18 months in a previous career, and it’s a gem — no doubt about it. Jersey has a lot to offer. It’s not going to rival a week-long beach holiday in Spain or further afield, but it probably has the best beaches within such easy reach from mainland U.K.
Combine that with great food, stunning scenery that changes depending on the time of day and how easy it is to get there, and it’s a no brainer for a U.K. break — whether for a weekend or even longer.
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