*In exchange for this blog post our ferry journeys to Guernsey, and to St Malo, were provided by Condor Ferries. We were also gifted our accommodation in Guernsey. Everything else was paid for by us*
Our trip to Guernsey in 2018 is something that we have long continued to talk about as a family. Having never even considered the Channel Islands as a potential holiday destination, we had truly fallen head over heels for the beautiful beaches and stunning scenery; so when Condor Ferries reached out to us and asked whether we would be interested in a repeat trip, of course we said yes!
Guernsey is a small island in the English Channel, close to the French coast. It has a population of just over 60,000 and has this ‘quaintness’ to it that is very difficult to describe. There’s a certain charm about it; from the whitewashed, wisteria-covered cottages to the home-grown dairy produce you can discover in just about every tea room, cafe and restaurant. Not to mention the rich blue of the sea which, on a sunny day, could mimic that of the Bahamas. Have I sold it to you yet?
Hoping for slightly better weather than we had last time, we decided that on this particular trip we would embrace the outdoor scene; Guernsey is renowned for its rugged cliffs, gorgeous beaches and sweeping countryside so it only made sense to explore this fully. It’s also supposed to have one of the better climates in the British Isles but…well…you will see.
We arrived at our accommodation for the duration of our trip: Hotel Jerbourg, having had an interesting journey across from Poole. The crossing is just under 3 hours and although it was pretty steady for the most part, it unfortunately didn’t sit well with Eli, who ended up suffering from seasickness, poor lamb! We had used wristbands (which work for me) and limited screen-time but he was still struck with it. So it was with some relief that we arrived in Saint Peter Port and drove the 15 minutes to our hotel for check-in, a quick refresh and a short walk to explore our immediate surroundings.
Hotel Jerboug sits on Jerbourg Point and offers amazing panoramic sea views. It’s around 15 minutes drive from Saint Peter Port. We were situated in a ground floor room with access directly to the pool area (which was a big plus for the kids who immediately asked to go for a swim, despite the cloud cover!). I’ll link my full review of the hotel here but for me, a major draw was the fact that the hotel is just steps from La Bouvee Farm…which other fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society may recognise.
There is also the Cliff Top Coffee Shop, an award-winning restaurant and a bar on-site. The staff were incredibly welcoming throughout our whole stay with the staff in the coffee shop in particular taking time out to speak to Meg and Eli, which is something we always appreciate. On our last full day we ate some divine cakes from the Coffee Shop and it made me disappointed we hadn’t been able to visit more often!
But back to day one…our ferry got in at 4.30pm so after a quick refresh we headed out for a short walk down Jerbourg Point, in order to get some fresh air and stretch our legs after the ferry journey. There was no denying the kids for long though and they were soon in the (unheated) outdoor pool. Then after a quick shower and change we headed out to Crabby Jack’s for some food.
You may remember Crabby Jack’s from our last visit to Guernsey; this time we were wise enough to prebook a table and so were sat inside in the main hub of the restaurant. Crabby Jack’s is ideal for families with a good menu selection along with an outdoor play area. It looks out across Vazon Bay, which is where we headed for ice cream after our meals, although the weather was really not playing ball and we didn’t last long. We did see some brave souls taking a quick swim in the sea but honestly…it was far too cold for that kind of carry on! So we headed back to the hotel to crash, ready to hit the ground running the following day.
We had our first outdoor activity planned for today so after a cooked breakfast at the hotel we decided to take things easy and head down into Saint Peter Port for a wander. Saint Peter Port is the main port and capital of Guernsey; it’s definitely one of the prettiest places I’ve been to with cobbled streets, the boats lined up in the marina and a number of parks and gardens…not to mention the colourful bunting lining the walkways. We had no major plans other than seeing where our feet led us so we popped into souvenir shops and picked up postcards, stopped for a drink or two and had some lunch before heading back to our hotel.
We had originally been booked to go Stand-Up Paddleboarding with Outdoor Guernsey, something I had been very excited to try having never been SUP before, but unfortunately the weather was against us. The decision was made that the winds were too strong and we were instead offered the chance to go Coasteering. Honestly, this was not really my thing; an hour and a half of scrambling over rocks, clambering through small holes and caves and jumping into the sea? Hard pass. But the kids were thrilled and so along we went.
I have to say that our guide Jamie was fantastic. He was incredibly patient (with me) and encouraging when the jumps felt a little too high. He was chatty and informative and we actually had a really good time. Was it the tranquil floating along the sea I had imagined? Not quite; but it was pretty good all the same. For a better idea of what we got up to, you can see our adventures in my vlog here.
Coasteering was physically quite demanding and we were near done in by the end of our two hour experience so we bundled ourselves back into the car and headed to the hotel to change. We decided to take it easy on ourselves and again return to a known place; the Pirate Bay Adventure Golf. We had booked a table for 8pm in the restaurant attached; the Nineteen Bar and Grill and we arrived with only about 45 minutes to whizz through the course but luckily it was quiet and we managed it with a couple of minutes to spare. The restaurant was packed which seems to always be a theme in Guernsey; eating out is definitely a popular pastime and I’d advise booking a table wherever you fancy eating. Food was delicious with a nice choice, even for the kids. It was loud however, with several parties taking place and staff who seemed run off their feet. For those with smaller kids it would probably not be all that suitable.
Our final full day on the island and we were once again up bright and early, ready to explore the outdoors. We had hired bikes and planned to cycle from Grand Rocques, near Cobo Bay, following the coastline up towards the north of the island and then at some point come back across and do a loop.
We had arranged our bike hire with Go Guernsey Land & Sea and as we set off the morning was clear, with just a hint of a breeze. We stopped for lunch on one of the beaches shortly after setting off (teething troubles with Eli being mightily afraid of falling off); a simple picnic lunch we had packed for ourselves.
Cycling up the coast of Guernsey is a lot of fun but not always easy. We had specifically chosen to avoid the roads as they are small, often single lanes, with high hedgerows and limited visibility. Whilst we saw plenty of cyclists on these roads, with the two kids it wasn’t something we felt comfortable doing. We had researched whether cycling along the coast was possible and felt confident we could do it, but there were several places where the sand on the path meant we had to get off and push. Cyclo-cross riders we are not.
Four miles in and we had reached the stunning beach of L’Ancresse but the weather had begun to turn. Dark clouds were rolling in and the wind had picked up. Sand blasting in your face as you cycle along makes it somewhat difficult to appreciate the views. We made the decision to stop for some ice cream and then turn around and head back, which turned out to be a wiser decision that we could have known; shortly after we set off back to our starting point the heavens opened and we were literally washed along. Soaking is not really an adequate word to describe how we looked when we finally made it back. I have new appreciation for those cyclists you see out and about who look like they set off completely unprepared for the weather. There comes a point when you are just so wet that a coat seems totally pointless.
So we only managed 8 miles in total but we got to take in some of the coastline and enjoy a delightful ice cream at one of the refreshment kiosks which are scattered throughout Guernsey.
Our plan for our final day had been to cycle for the majority, head back to the hotel to change and then go down to Saint Peter Port and Cornet Castle for an evening of live music. Guernsey has many artistic and cultural events which take place throughout the year, including live music evenings at the Castle and we had planned to take advantage of this. However, the weather simply did not let up. We showered, dried off and settled down for the remainder of the afternoon in the Cliff Top Coffee Shop, and waited for the rain to let up. When it didn’t, we decided to take our chances and hope for the best.
We drove down to Saint Peter Port and within a few minutes of walking were once again soaked through. Our evening became huddling in a hot little fish and chip restaurant with many other locals, shovelling food down our throats as fast as we could in an attempt to warm up and dry off before scurrying back to the car and retreating to the hotel. I’m sure the music and atmosphere at the Castle was amazing. We just didn’t get to experience it.
We fell asleep to the sound of the nearby coastal station foghorn signalling the boats passing by the harbour.
Our final half day in Guernsey before our ferry trip to St Malo and we woke to clear skies and sunshine. Typical!
We packed up the car and checked out, then headed down to Saumarez Park which has an excellent children’s adventure playground. There is parking next to the playground but not many spaces so I’d suggest using the alternative parking. It’s a short walk from the car park to the playground but it takes you through the grounds which are lovely in themselves. Plenty of seating around the park also meant James and I could sit and comfortable watch the kids wear themselves out; always a plus!
Our ferry was at 2pm so we grabbed lunch at the cafe in the park. Food was reasonable and what you would expect for the price; it’s probably best for hot drinks and cakes but we needed somewhere close by to eat before we headed down to the ferry and this worked for us. I believe there is a garden out the back which has tables and chairs and is more picturesque than the front but this was closed during our visit.
Guernsey has beautiful parks and gardens in abundance and so far we have only managed to tick two off our list. Saumarez is a lovely option if you have children and there is also plenty of open space for picnics or just generally running around and burning off energy.
Just after 12pm we got back into our car and headed off to the port, ready for our onward journey to St Malo and our next summer adventure.
If you enjoy being outdoors then there is an absolute wealth of things to do and enjoy in Guernsey. It’s a shame that the weather wasn’t always on our side but it’s the ideal choice for anyone who loves to be active whether on land, sea or somewhere in between (I think I’m still a little scarred from our coasteering experience).
I hope we can return again one day in the future, or perhaps see what the other Channel Islands have to offer. Regardless, Guernsey has captured a little piece of us. The people, the countryside, the beaches…perhaps not the weather; go do great things in Guernsey.