Get ready to fall in love with Jersey! Easy to get to, hard to leave … Peter Johnston from our Ballyhackamore office was guest of Travel Solutions on a short break to this jewel of the Channel Islands.
Jersey truly is small but mighty. The largest of the Channel Islands, just 118.2 square kilometres in size (that’s 45.6 square miles in ‘old money’), Jersey is famous for flowers and finances, cows and cuisine, wines and war tunnels and for its wonderfully sunny climate and relaxed lifestyles.
Not surprisingly, the island has long been a top holiday destination with those who appreciate its accessibility and who love the convenience of an English-speaking destination which uses Sterling as its currency. Those very attributes have encouraged some of us to dismiss Jersey as a tad sedate, but today a whole new generation of holidaymakers is discovering this great holiday island with its unique blend of British and French cultures.
Flying from Belfast with Easyjet to Jersey takes just 80 minutes – and what’s not to love about that? A short transfer, check into your hotel and, hey presto, you’re in full-blown holiday mode!
The island is supremely easy to navigate, either by public transport or with a hire car and you’ll quickly get your bearings. Car hire is reasonably priced and driving is easy, with a 40 MPH speed limit, although it’s even difficult to do this as most of the roads are narrow and twisty!
There are plenty of visitor attractions, from the fascinating Jersey War Tunnels complex, in a former hospital excavated by slave labour, documenting the island’s 5-year German occupation during WWII, to the celebrated Jersey Zoo established in 1959 by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell and now operated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Experiential tourism is big here, with opportunities to visit lavender farms, get up close and personal with a Jersey cow … even dig your own Jersey spuds! Sea-kayaking, kite-surfing, snorkelling, diving and coasteering and all manner of watersports are popular, with plenty of opportunities to ‘dip your toe in the water’ with a first attempt or to hone your skills at a higher level.
It’s well worth visiting one of the local vineyards and I would heartily recommend a mini cooking course to get a taste for how that wonderful island produce is used to create fabulous cuisine. Indeed, food and drink are likely to figure prominently in your holiday itinerary for Jersey is a foodie’s paradise, whether you’re enjoying fine dining or simply grabbing something fresh and delicious as you mooch about the markets, shops and attractions.
Jersey has an excellent range of hotels, with superb quality at the top end of the scale as well as some great value destinations.
Perfect for families and just on the outskirts of the capital, St Helier, is the 3* Merton Hotel, with a wide choice of conventional rooms and also some excellent self-catering suites. Brilliant breakfasts and fab evening entertainment with live acts and dancing in its Starlight Ballroom will make this a favourite with the grown-ups, but the pool will do it for the kids (and the young at heart!). The resort-hotel’s amazing indoor Auqadome leads out to a huge outdoor pool, complete with surfrider.
If it’s a central location that floats your boat, the 4* Pomme D’or Hotel, would be hard to beat. Right on Liberation Square, absolutely in the beating heart of St. Helier, standards here are high with excellent service. There is no pool, but the wonderful beach is just yards away.
Within comfortable distance of the city centre, the 3*Mayfair Hotel is extremely pleasant, with a light and airy reception and a bustling bar/lounge area. It also has evening entertainment in the dining room, geared more to older guests.
I was pleasantly surprised by the 2*Norfolk Hotel with its nicely decorated bedrooms, large dining room, lovely swimming pool and sun terrace with its small snack bar serving teas and coffees. An absolute bargain I’d say.
The range of accommodation in Jersey is huge, and there are a host of excellent bargain offers for short breaks and low season stays. Whenever you choose to travel Jersey will have something special to offer and, like me, you’re sure to love this island which has embraced the best of tourism.