Globalmouse writer Fiona travels to the Channel Islands to find out if a spring weekend in Jersey with children hits the spot.
As a family we’d never travelled to the Channel Islands before and so with nervous excitement we set off for a new adventure ‘abroad’. At only 85 miles from mainland UK a flight from anywhere will be short but instead we took the express Condor ferry from Poole to St Helier with a car laden with everything we might need for a weekend away. The crossing was very smooth and provided a welcome opportunity to sit back and read the papers while the girls watched back-to-back movies in the kids area. On board there’s a duty-free shop, loads of seating, a Costa and a cafe with a good selection of food. The children also enjoyed going up on deck and watching England disappear into the distance.
Jersey is apparently the sunniest place in British Isles and has its own micro-climate – this was certainly our experience. From the moment we got off the boat to the moment we left we had wall to wall sunshine and were delighted to be in t-shirts and shorts – in April!
Jersey has a distinctly French feel, with its French road names but is English-speaking. With 15 miles of mainly pristine sandy beaches, this is a super getaway destination. Jersey is the equivalent size of London but with a population the size of Hastings and getting around by car is super-easy with only a handful of main roads around the island. Our hotel was positioned on the quieter south-west side of the island but being only 9 miles by 5 miles, you’re never far from anything.
There are loads of things to see and do for children of all ages: castles, adventure parks, water parks a wildlife park and of course beaches.
A spring weekend in Jersey with children – The Beaches:
You can’t go to Jersey without spending some time on the beaches – in fact we spent pretty much all our time on them. Having canvassed opinion from a few locals, they all seemed to agree on which were the best. We didn’t get to visit all of them but here are two which deserve a special mention…
St Ouen’s Bay:
The beach at St Ouen’s is the longest in Jersey, spanning nearly the full length of the island’s west coast. It’s locally referred to as ‘the five mile road’ for obvious reasons, and is a superb surfing beach with a cafe/restaurant and beach club. This beach is home to one of the oldest surfing clubs in Europe so it’s a natural playground for surfers, but our children spent many happy hours collecting shells and building sandcastles. And for those who are keen to swim, the beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the season. We were there in April and pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves, apart from horses galloping in the sea and the odd dog-walker.
A gorgeous smallish curved sandy beach on the north west of the island surrounded by cliffs on all sides. It’s the sort of beach that is so perfect that you want to keep it a secret. The tide goes out to reveal rockpools and a fascinating cave behind a waterfall – all pretty perfect for exploring and there’s a café, parking and a lifeguard service.
A spring weekend in Jersey with children – Where to stay:
There are loads of good places to stay in Jersey to suit every budget. We were away for an indulgent half-term treat and were staying at the rather amazing Atlantic Hotel, set in 6 acres of gorgeous gardens with picture-perfect views over the 5 mile Saint Ouen bay. The Atlantic is a bright, airy and totally sumptuous art deco hotel with more awards than you can shake a stick at, not to mention a Michelin star! So luxurious in fact that Lord Sugar sent his winning apprentices here as a treat!
So a spring weekend in Jersey with children? Absolutely. It has everything you could need to feel you’ve had a proper break away without being too far from home. We heartily recommend it.