Despite measuring just nine miles by five, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands as well as the archipelago’s southernmost isle. A self-governing dependency of the UK, it has much to offer visitors this autumn, whether you’re a daytripper or planning a week-long break.
Known for, among others, its splendid beaches, rugged coastline, myriad walking trails, inland valleys and military history, the island can easily be reached via a short flight from over 20 UK airports. Alternatively, hop on the Condor ferry to reach Britain’s sunniest spot.
Stroll the island’s beaches
It’s claimed that you’re never more than ten minutes from the sea and Jersey’s beaches – which come in all shapes and sizes – are as appealing in autumn as mid-summer.
Scattered around the 40 miles of coastline, there are myriad beaches and rocky coves to explore. St Ouen’s – with its five-mile stretch of uninterrupted sand – will quickly become a favourite. It’s also home to one of Europe’s oldest surfing clubs and a day doesn’t pass without spotting surfers enjoying the Atlantic rollers crashing onto the beach.
Wander across the sea bed
Jersey has one of the world’s largest tidal ranges and at low tide the island nearly doubles in size. The ebbing and flowing create an ever-changing backdrop as the island transforms from turquoise bays to rocky, lunar-like landscapes. But that’s not all: this twice-daily occurrence also creates low water habitats for rare sea creatures like ormers, a prized delicacy among many cultures.
The massive tide changes mean walking offshore is only advisable if you have knowledge of the area and its dangerous, fast tides. Explore with local experts from companies like Jersey Walk Adventures, which organise regular theme-based walks.
I donned wellies and explored the sea bed at La Roque, situated on the island’s southernmost point, with Trudie. Here, the tide retreats more than two miles and reveals intriguing features such as Violet Bank, comprising puzzle-like gullies where coralline algae, with its purple hue, congregates.
Indulge in the island’s heritage
Jersey has a rich history so consider buying the Heritage Pass (£40.55 per adult) which is valid for seven days and allows access to four historic sites for the price of three. Highly recommended is Mont Orgueil Castle, a medieval building with links to the English Crown and boasting spectacular views along the island’s coastline and beyond to France.
The Maritime Museum is worth visiting, too. Here, you can enjoy an interactive adventure spotlighting Jersey’s seafaring history while the Occupation Tapestry Gallery tells the island’s story during World War Two.
Dine with a view
The island boasts some superbly-located cafés and restaurants but none can beat Nude Dunes. It’s perched above La Pulente, the most southerly strip of St Ouen’s Bay, and affords diners uninterrupted Atlantic views. This stunning, curved-shaped cafe-cum-restaurant is, believe it or not, a former toilet block which has been transformed into a contemporary eating place offering a fresh take on healthy food: expect goodness without compromising on taste.
An equally impressive view, this time overlooking St Brelade Bay, is enjoyed while dining at PizzaExpress. This gorgeous venue has a surfing design theme and has long been a favourite with locals and visitors alike since opening more than 23 years ago. Earlier this year, the restaurant underwent a remodel and is definitely worth a visit; in fact, it’s the perfect destination for a meal before or after a stroll along the beach.
Visit the Botanic Gardens at Samares Manor
Created in the 1920s by millionaire philanthropist Sir James Knott, the gardens offer countless unique and distinctive plant collections which thrive at this exceptionally fertile site.
Among the 14 acres you’ll discover a Japanese garden, exotic planting, water gardens, seasonal gardens, formal rose and lavender garden plus one of the UK’s largest herb gardens.
If you’re visiting with children, head for the play area, Willow Labyrinth and Jungle Path. A new cafe will be opening soon, too. Finally, on your way out, make sure you visit the gift shop and plant centre.
www.samaresmanor.com (closed January & February)
Don your walking boots
The fall is a perfect time to enjoy Jersey’s because the miles of walking trails are less-trodden at this time of year. The wild north coast is particularly special. While the more energetic can trek the entire 16 miles of coastpath spanning the northwest to northeastern corner in a day, most people split the route into manageable chunks. All along the cliff path crossing this rugged section of Jersey, you’re accompanied by the roar of the powerful ocean crashing onto rocks below.
Relax in luxury
When it comes to choosing your accommodation, enjoy a bit of luxury at the Atlantic Hotel. Sitting above St Ouen’s Bay on the west coast, this art deco-influenced hotel is a peaceful retreat set amid extensive grounds next to a championship golf course. Pick an ocean-facing room for the best views.
In longstanding family ownership, the hotel – which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and offers timeless elegance – has undergone development over the years and is, in my view, the pick of Jersey’s hotels. Its 4 AA Rosette restaurant offers fine dining and outstanding service with a smile. This is the perfect base from which to explore the island.
[Visited October 2023]