What is Jersey?
Jersey is a small island situated in the Bay of St Malo, less than 30km from the northern coast of France. Officially, it is a self-governed Crown dependency of the UK and the largest of the Channel Islands.
But forget all the boring stuff, all you need to know is this: its small size, natural beauty and unique blend of British & French culture make Jersey one seriously awesome place to visit!
In this guide I’ll cover the following:
- How to get to Jersey
- What to do
- Where to eat
- Where to stay
- How to get around
- Other useful information
How to get to Jersey
The majority of flights landing in Jersey originate from London Gatwick airport. EasyJet offer the cheapest of these flights while British Airways provide a slightly more luxurious alternative. Other airports with multiple daily departures to Jersey are Southampton (south of England, short flight time) and Birmingham (centre of England). Here are the details for these popular routes:
Prices are based on return tickets for 2 people for a 4-day trip.
➲ Gatwick to Jersey – EasyJet – 1hr 5m – from £84 (US$110)
➲ Gatwick to Jersey – British Airways – 1hr – from £130 (US$160)
➲ Southampton to Jersey – Flybe – 45m – from £120 (US$150)
➲ Birmingham to Jersey – Flybe – 1hr 5m – from £150 (US$190)
Unlike flights, ferries connect Jersey to France as well as mainland UK. They also give you the opportunity to bring your own car, which makes getting around Jersey easier and cheaper. By far the quickest (and marginally cheaper) UK route is from Poole (as opposed to Portsmouth), but nowhere near as fast as the connections to France. Here are the details for the best routes:
Prices are based on return tickets for 2 people (including 1 car) for a 4-day trip.
➲ Poole to Jersey – Condor Ferries – 4hr 30m – from £260 (US$330)
➲ St Malo (France) to Jersey – Condor Ferries – 1hr 20m – from £140 (US$180)
This other route from France takes foot passengers only. Prices are for 2 people.
➲ Granville (France) to Jersey – Manche Iles Express – 1hr 25m – from £80 (US$100)
What to do in Jersey
Organised by location from northeast to northwest, here are my favourite things to see and do in Jersey:
Bonne Nuit (festival) – Bus 4
On the secluded north coast of Jersey, Bonne Nuit has a small sandy beach, large pier and a quaint cafe. Fishing is the name of the game here so swimming isn’t advised (although diving off the pier at high tide does look enticing)!
There are some great hiking trails leading round to neighbouring bays; if you head east you’ll find yourself at La Crête Fort.
Held every June, the main event of the year is the Bonne Nuit Harbour Festival which includes food stalls (where I tried my first ever scallop), musical entertainment and fete style games.
Bouley Bay (racing) – Bus 4
Bouley Bay is most famous for it’s hill-climb racing events – the steep, winding road leading up from the pier is the perfect course; challenging for the drivers and exciting for the spectators. Each year since 1947 Jersey has hosted a round of the British Hill Climb Championship at Bouley Bay. The dates usually occur in July or August, you can check the latest official tour details here: www.britishhillclimb.co.uk.
There are also some extra hill-climb races throughout the year run by Jersey Motorcycle & Light Car Club; check their website for upcoming events – www.jerseymotorsport.com.
Bouley Bay is probably the best beach on the whole island for swimming. Unlike the rest of Jersey, the rugged north coast is fairly steep so the tides are very small – great for swimming any time of day. Plus, it’s comparatively quiet, the water is crystal clear and the scenery is stunning!
If you get hungry down at Bouley Bay, check out Mad Mary’s beach cafe (I provide more details in the ‘Where to Eat’ section below).
Enjoy a private beach!
Hop over the side of the pier at Bouley Bay to the pebbly beach beyond for ultimate seclusion.
Rozel (cliff walk) – Bus 3
Probably Definitely my favourite walk in Jersey is the cliff path that runs between Bouley Bay and Rozel. Weaving through the craggy headlands, the path takes you through farmers fields, patches of forest and along some cliff-side walkways – you’d better not be afraid of heights!
The views are magnificent for virtually the entire walk, looking out at the ocean where it meets the lush, green, Jersey cliffs. Keep an eye out for wildlife too as you might be able to spot some birds of prey hovering over the vegetation, on the lookout for their next meal.
It’s not a challenging walk by any means; the path is uneven in places and there are a few steep sections but nothing unachievable by someone with an average level of fitness and mobility. Parking is available at both bays (to take the bus, use number 3 for Rozel and number 4 for Bouley).
Gorey (beach & castle) – Bus 1, 1a, 2, 13
The long sandy beach at Gorey is Jersey’s best east coast beach. There’s ample space for beach games and at high tide it’s another great place for swimming, with relatively calm waters. A beach hut going by the imaginative name of ‘Cafe on the Beach’ serves up snacks, ice creams, burgers and hot & cold drinks. Watersports are also available.
The main attraction at Gorey though are the views of Mont Orgueil Castle – one of Jersey’s most iconic landmarks. From the car-park at Gorey beach you can make the short walk along the waterfront to the marina. From here you can continue up the hill into the castle itself or indulge in one of the fabulous restaurants situated along Gorey pier.
La Rocque (water activities) – Bus 1
La Rocque is a great place to visit at any time of day; high tide is ideal for jumping off the pier, low tide is perfect for exploring previously submerged rock pools, and mid tide is just right for a quick swim (keep an eye on your position though as Jersey has some pretty quick and crazy tides – read the next section for more).
Situated at La Rocque is Timmy’s Hard Rocque Cafe which serves up cheap fare to keep you well fed and hydrated. Most drinks are £1 (US$1.3), burgers and sandwiches are £3 (US$3.8).
Le Hocq (low-water fishing) – Bus 1
Jersey is home to some of the largest tides in the entire world. These are most obvious on the southeast coast near Le Hocq where tides can go out by over 3km (2 miles). Although this makes swimming difficult, it also reveals a whole new world.
At low tide, the bay at Le Hocq looks like a moonscape, with rocky mounds and small pools just waiting to be explored. These freshly uncovered rocks and pools reveal an abundance of shellfish which you can collect for yourself – hence the term “low-water fishing”. Cockles and whelks are the most common; if you’re lucky you might be able to find an oyster (but good luck prising it from its rocky home)!
This activity would be of particular interest to those of you staying in self-catering accommodation where you could cook your catch and enjoy some of the freshest seafood you’ll likely ever sample! (But I wouldn’t rely on this for a meal – you might not catch that much).
Here are some other tips for staying safe and making the most of your time low-water fishing:
1 – Check the tide times. After low tide, the incoming tide returns at an astonishing pace – more than quick enough to catch you out and cause a potentially dangerous situation. (The first time I went low-water fishing we were ankle deep in water when we got caught out by the turning tide. Luckily we were only 100m out but by the time we made it back to shore we were wading through waist deep water and had lost a few flip flops – don’t make the same mistake!)
You can check the updated tide times here: www.gov.je. My best advice would be to go exploring around 2-3 hours after high tide and follow the water out.
2 – Take the right equipment. Some rubbery enclosed footwear would be a good idea for wading through the pools and preventing slips on the rocks. A bucket or even a plastic bag is worth taking to collect your pickings. Other than that, dress for the weather and take a phone in case you get into any trouble. In the event of an emergency, call 999 and ask for the coastguard (your position will most likely be off the coast at Le Hocq).
St Helier (main town) – all buses
Liberation Square and Royal Square are great areas to chill and relax in St Helier. Sitting between them is the local Parish Church. Look out for different pop-up events and festivals taking place in Liberation Square – I was lucky enough to be there for the annual Portuguese Food Festival which usually occurs in August.
Central Market is the best place to get fresh fruit and vegetables – including the unique flavoured Jersey Royal new potatoes. The building itself is something to marvel at too. It’s located on the corner of Beresford Street and Halkett Place. For all of the island’s fresh fishy delights, head to the nearby fish market at 19-22 Beresford St.
If you’re after gifts or souvenirs from your time in Jersey, be sure to visit Rococo Art & Gifts at Liberty Wharf shopping arcade (housed within a restored Victorian building). You’ll find all manner of gifts at Rococo, as well as some artwork from a wonderfully talented local artist.
Elizabeth Castle is situated on a small rocky island just off the coast of St Helier. Take a look back into Jersey’s history as you explore the unique fortress that has defended the island for over 300 years. At low tide you can walk out to the castle via the exposed causeway. There’s also an amphibious ferry for use at high tide or by those with limited mobility.
For real time information on the ferry service to Elizabeth Castle, call +44 1534 634048. Note: the beginning of the causeway and the ferry terminal are located opposite Jersey’s Grand Hotel. Entrance to the castle costs £11.6 (US$15) for adults and a further £2.75 (US$3.5) for the ferry. Reduced prices for children, seniors and students. Opening times: daily 10am-5:30pm (21st March – 4th November).
Just west of St Helier is Gunsite Cafe – I cover this in greater detail in the ‘Where to Eat’ section below.
St Brelades (best beach) – Bus 12, 12a, 14
Jersey’s has numerous fantastic beaches so picking a best of the bunch can be tricky. According to TripAdvisor though, St Brelades is rated among the Top 3 Beaches in all of the UK (and when you visit, you’ll wonder why it was ever in doubt).
The large, sandy bay overlooks the cliffs of Les Creux where millionaires own some seriously luxurious properties. On the sand itself, there’s plenty of space for sunbathing and beach games without ever feeling crowded. Along the promenade sit a variety of eateries, ranging from takeaway kiosks to posh restaurants on the terraces of hotels (I ate at the Wayside Cafe). Massages and spa days are also available from these hotels.
The sea at St Brelades is quite calm; apart from being good for swimming this also provides ideal conditions for many watersports. A company called Absolute Adventures rent out kayaks, paddle boards, banana boat rides and more. For more information you can visit their website: www.absoluteadventures.je. Overall, St Brelades is a great beach for anyone: families; BBQers; watersport-junkies; walkers; sun-worshipers; people-who-only-want-a-massage-and-a-glass-of-wine!
St Ouens (sunset & white house) – Bus 22
Jersey’s White House, officially known as Le Don Hilton or La Caumine à Marie Best, is a landmark building situated along St Ouens bay. For me it’s one of the most iconic sights after the island’s 2 castles and Jersey cows!
The beach itself stretches for over 5km (3 miles) and is the best place on the island to watch the sunset. Other activities include horse-riding and blo-karting. There are also a number of eateries spread out along the bay; I cover 2 of them in the ‘Where to Eat’ section below (Watersplash and El Tico).
Plemont (caves & waterfalls) – Bus 8
The north coast bay of Plemont is one of the quieter areas of Jersey yet has some of the best natural features. Behind the sandy beach are some caves to explore, complete with rock pools and waterfalls.
You can also see puffins between April and July. The best place to spot them (apparently, I haven’t gone Puffin watching myself) is immediately east of the headland. Park in the northernmost car park (at the end of the road from Plemont village) and walk east along the cliff path.
Further along the north coast there are some fantastic viewpoints – as seen in the picture below.
Alternative things to see & do
➲ For the adventurous – Devils Hole (small bay with cave & hole which sea comes into) – Bus 7
➲ For the hikers – Sorel Point (great views) – Bus 5, 7
➲ For the petrol-heads – Jersey Karting (go-karting track) – Bus 5, 7
➲ For a raining day – Jersey War Tunnels (indoor historic site) – Bus 8, 28
➲ For the children – Jersey Zoo (Gerald Durrell Conservation Park, specialising in endangered species) – Bus 3, 13, 23
➲ For the sea lovers – Écréhous & Minquiers (small groups of islands which can be visited by boat, possible to see dolphins and seals) – Bus N/A
Read more: Where to find true British culture.
Where to eat in Jersey
[I write blog posts dedicated to eating in the places that I travel to, so if you’re a bit of foodie stay tuned for some appetising articles!]
Here are some top recommendations for eating in Jersey – my ultimate favourites are marked with a star:
⭐ El Tico ££
Definitely one of my favourite places to eat in Jersey. El Tico is a fusion restaurant situated in St Ouens bay on the island’s west coast. It has a beautiful seafront setting, modern decoration and tables both inside and out.
There are so many fantastic menu options that I could probably eat here for weeks and not get bored! Eventually I settled on the crab linguine and was not disappointed; rich, tasty and a generous portion. Main dishes averaged £12 (US$15).
The Wayside Cafe ££
Bus 12, 12a, 14
One of the mid-range options at St Brelades beach. Fantastic sea views from the dining area and netting overhead to prevent those pesky seagulls from stealing your lunch!
I went for an all-day breakfast – a solid and safe choice but my Uncle’s bruschetta looked particularly delicious (so I’ll choose that next time). Paninis and bruschettas will set you back £8 (US$10), mains are from £10 (US$13) and bottled beer costs £4 (US$5.1).
Gunsite cafe £
Bus 9, 12, 12a, 14, 15, 22
Situated just west of St Helier, Gunsite Cafe is easily reachable on foot, bicycle or one of multiple buses. It’s a cozy cafe but has great views over the beach and some very welcoming staff.
Their minimal menu is honed to perfection with a small offering of homemade food. I tried a ciabatta topped with spicy guacamole, bacon and rocket – tasty, filling and reasonably priced at £4.50 (US$5.8).
⭐ Portelet Bay Cafe £££
This is my undisputed favourite place to eat in Jersey! The story of how the cafe started is a fascinating tale itself – be sure to ask when you visit.
Specialising in authentic wood-fired pizzas, Portelet Bay Cafe is a family run restaurant of high quality and a unique nature. Its beachfront setting is so secluded that the only ways to access it are by a cliff path or by boat. This fantastic location ensures a refreshing experience – one of true Jersey I believe.
And if you think the limited access would mean plenty of free tables, think again! I’d highly recommended making a booking for the evening, especially at weekends or during the summer months. If you are arriving by car or bus, it’s just a short stepped walk down to the beach from the car park.
The delicious pizzas are the main attraction here; made to order with the highest quality ingredients – rusticly brilliant! They also have fresh seafood, fish and salads depending on the season. To finish off, a variety of seasonal homemade desserts are on offer (if you can’t resist the popular nutella calzone).
Mad Mary’s beach cafe £
Perched on a cliff overlooking Bouley Bay, Mad Mary’s is a great spot for a light lunch or snack. The views are fabulous and there are plenty of benches to choose from – if you’re after a sunny spot then come earlier in the day before it disappears behind the towering cliff!
In-season, Mary makes some delicious fresh crab sandwiches for £7 (US$9). Hot drinks are £1.5 (US$1.9) and other “normal” sandwiches £4 (US$5.1).
Watersplash diner ££
Another eatery situated at St Ouens bay. This one is the ideal place to grab a few early evening drinks, fill your belly with some food and then enjoy the wonderful sunset.
I won’t lie, the food isn’t as good as the nearby El Tico but prices are slightly cheaper and there’s a better chance of getting a table with a view. Between our group of 3 we shared nachos, a caesar salad and sweet potato hash (butternut squash, sweet potato, roasted veggies, olives and fried egg); tasty enough but not going to set the world alight! Prices of main dishes average £10 (US$13).
Grab some Thai takeaway!
Stop off at Le Mare beach to visit the Light House Beach Cafe (££, Bus 1). Owner Nigel and his Thai cooks will whip you up some delicious Thai food for takeaway. Rather than take it home though, make use of Nigel’s beach rugs and enjoy your food with a view of the sea.
Where to stay in Jersey
Jersey is blessed with some of the most unique and awesome accommodation options I’ve ever seen. The Jersey Heritage Trust has created self-catered rooms in 12 of the island’s most historic sites, each one rentable by none other than YOU!
The accommodation on offer ranges from the extremely basic rooms (BYOB – bring your own bedding) to fully furnished self catering apartments. The truly unique aspect of renting one of these rooms though is the building’s location and rich history.
You can choose from rooms in castles, forts, cottages and even off-shore towers. Both Seymour Tower and La Rocco Tower are so far off-shore that they’re completely cut off from the mainland at high tide – talk about having an adventure!
Prices start at the affordable rate of £10 (US$13) per person per night (although that’s based on your group filling every bed during low season), and go all the way up to £350 (US$450) for the entire Seymour or La Rocco tower.
Staying at one of these locations is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience; definitely something not to be missed during your time in Jersey! For more information about facilities, prices and booking, visit the Jersey Heritage Trust website here: www.jerseyheritage.org.
How to get around Jersey
The bus network in Jersey covers all corners of the island. Services run at regular intervals every day of the week, with only a slight reduction in frequency over weekends or on Sundays. Routes running west to the airport and east to the beaches are the most frequent. Getting to north and central areas requires a little more prior planning – check the updated timetables and route map here: www.libertybus.je.
Single tickets can be bought from the drivers at a price of £2.2 (US$2.8) using cash or £2 (US$2.6) using a contactless card. Tickets for children are half price. If you intend to use the bus services regularly over the course of a few days, consider buying a hop-on-hop-off ticket. These are only available from the information desks at Liberation Station in St Helier (the main bus station, don’t forget to pick up a free bus timetable while you’re here).
There is an extensive network of dedicated cycle routes that cover the whole of the island. They range from short 0.8km (0.5mile) rides to 64km (40mile) entire island loops! This document details all 14 routes and displays them on a map for ease of use: JerseyCyclingRoutes.pdf.
Of course, bringing your own bike to Jersey would be ideal, but if that’s not possible then you can always hire from a rental company. Check out Aarons Bikes in St Helier (5 Gloucester Street) or Jersey Bike Hire in St Aubin (Mont Les Vaux, Old German Tunnels). Both of these companies offer e-bikes in addition to their standard mountain and city bikes. If you haven’t ever tried an e-bike then go for it! They’re awesome fun and perfectly suited to cruising round Jersey’s country roads.
Like with bikes, bringing your own car would be the easy option. Alternatively, there are plenty of rental options available at the airport and even some at the ferry port too. Most of the roads in Jersey are winding country lanes and can be extremely narrow in places; take caution, drive slowly and enjoy the views! Oh, and remember to drive on the left! 😉
Here are a few notes on parking. Parking on single yellow lines is prohibited. Most places have some form of free on street parking, most likely with an hourly restriction. Otherwise, the majority of car parks require payment. This is done by pay cards (parking scratch cards) that can be bought from tourism information centres, post offices and many shops island-wide (but not the car parks themselves). Pay cards aren’t required from Saturdays at 5pm until Monday at 8am – free parking, wohay!
Other useful information
➲ The currency used in Jersey is the Jersey pound. Although Bank of England notes are legal tender in Jersey, the reverse is not true. (English pounds – including the regional varieties of Scotland and Guernsey – are accepted in Jersey but Jersey pounds are not accepted in the UK, so either use all your Jersey pounds before leaving or exchange them at a bank once in the UK. Or keep a few as souvenirs!).
➲ Virtually every beach on the island (bar the most secluded) has access to free toilet facilities. They’re well maintained and open every day.
➲ Like most of the UK, Jersey’s weather is somewhat unpredictable; packing suncream and an umbrella in the same bag is probably not such a bad idea!
A special mention goes to Colin and Chantal who have hosted my brother and I on multiple occasions. Without them I would never have discovered this wonderful island with all of its beautiful, delicious offerings.
Jersey really is a special place to visit; if you haven’t seen it yet then what are you waiting for? Book some time off work then use my guide to plan your trip.
Happy travels and maybe see you in Jersey one day – you’ll find me in Portelet Bay Cafe with a slice of pizza in one hand and a cold beer in the other!
Remember that article about true British culture? Here it is again (I think you’ll like it).