The idea of an island break in the British Isles might raise a few sceptical eyebrows. However, Jersey, Channel Islands challenges the narrative by offering world-class gastronomy, a dose of culture and attractive beaches which make a great combination for a surprisingly decent mini-vacation.

 

An island break in Great Britain?

The rain travelled with us across the English Channel from London Gatwick to Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. This was unsurprising seeing as it was the start of the British Autumn. Previous experience had taught us to manage our expectations for clear blue skies when holidaying in Great Britain.

St. Brelade parish | Jersey The Island Break

Tapping into that indomitable spirit of the Brits, we remained optimistic for some good weather as we flagged a taxi from Jersey airport into Saint Helier, the island’s main commercial hub. The route immediately took us along the coastal road with the sight of the ocean and a fresh sea breeze lifting our spirits further.

St. Aubin’s Bay | Jersey The Island Break

“The island is quite small really. It is just 9 by 5 (miles),” proclaimed our cheery taxi driver as he described the size of the island. “Wherever you are on Jersey, you’re never more than 10 minutes from the sea,” he declared proudly.

As if on cue, the afternoon sun chose that very moment to peek through the grey skies and gently kiss the tidal range off Saint Aubin’s Bay. The rain had stopped and Mother Nature herself seemed to be extending a warm welcome to us.

 

Getting to know Jersey

Jersey (officially known as the Bailiwick of Jersey) is a self-governing archipelago which is closer to France (14 miles) than it is to mainland Britain (100 miles) – street names are in French, that’s how close it is!

St. Aubin’s Bay | Jersey The Island Break

Although Jersey (as well as neighbouring Guernsey) depends on the British Crown for matters like defence and foreign relations, the island is officially not a part of the United Kingdom, opting for its own legal and fiscal systems.

In addition, although a European territory, Jersey is not officially a member of the European Union. Pretty confusing right?

St. Aubin’s Bay | Jersey The Island Break

To further mix things up, the island was invaded by the Vikings in the 9th century, changed hands between the French and British, and spawned an American colony (which later became New Jersey).

More recently, the Channel Islands were the only part of Britain occupied by German forces during the Second World War. This patchwork of history provides an interesting backdrop for heritage tourism on the island.

Jersey is perhaps best known for its status as an offshore financial centre. However, that capitalist label does nothing to diminish Jersey’s appeal as a travel destination showcasing long, windswept beaches (Jersey has some of the cleanest water in the British Isles) and world-class gastronomy.

 

Why visit Jersey? Food! Glorious seafood!

We’re not being trivial when we say that Jersey is a surprisingly impressive foodie destination.

Sustainable farming practices produce high-quality, fresh lobster and oysters in the tidal range and rock beds surrounding the island. Both are two items of the ‘Jersey Big Five’ (the others being cheese, black butter and Jersey Royal potatoes) which visitors must try.

Keen to dive into the island’s gastronomy, we checked into our hotel and immediately set out to visit Oyster Box, a casual-chic beach restaurant in St. Brelade parish on the west of the island. Beginning life as a family owned pottery, Oyster Box has transformed into a noteworthy foodie watering hole popular with both locals and visitors.

Over a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a chilled gin and tonic, we appreciated the ambience of the restaurant and clear views of St. Brelade’s Bay before brunch arrived.

Seafood at Oyster Box | Jersey The Island Break

Late September, with Autumn well underway, is prime shellfish season on the island. It came as no surprise therefore that the highlight of our meal was a platter of fresh Jersey Rock oysters from the Royal Bay of Grouville served with shallot vinegar. The oysters had the delicate and lightly salted quality associated with the Jersey variety.

A dish of seared Jersey scallops served on a bed of pea risotto completed our brunch and served as a good introduction to Jersey’s world-class seafood.

 

Exploring Jersey on two wheels

A weekend itinerary in Jersey must include time spent outdoors. For such a small island, Jersey is home to a decent variety of family-friendly beaches, parks and hiking and cycling trails.

Cycling in the Channel Islands | Jersey The Island Break

Our hotel, The Club Hotel & Spa which was located only a ten-minute walk from Liberation Square (the epicentre of activity in St Helier), was the perfect launch pad for our adventures on the island.

On our second day, we opted for a self-guided tour on two wheels. Jersey has a well mapped, signposted, island-wide cycle network covering over 350 miles. We charted a route from the iconic WW2 bronze sculpture in Liberation Square to La Corbière, the world’s first concrete lighthouse, on the island’s southwest (estimated cycling: 12km and 42 minutes).

HDYTI Tip: We hired bicycles from Zebra Car & Cycle hire in St Helier for £12 each for a day’s hire including helmets and locks.

We were soon cycling along the coastal route by St. Aubin’s Bay, pausing to admire World War II monuments and to walk along the coast, enjoying the feel of the white beach sand between our toes. At the pretty harbour village of St. Aubin, we secured the bicycles and wandered through a local artisan market in front of the parish hall.

Parish Hall, St Aubin Jersey The Island Break

We never made it to La Corbière. Autumn soon flexed her muscles and the weather took a dramatic downward turn, forcing us to shelter for hours from heavy rains in a local cafe.

The downpour washed away our remaining enthusiasm for adventure and we decided to head back to the hotel. Further exploration of Jersey on two wheels would have to wait for another time.

 

Reviving mind and body at The Club Hotel & Spa

A pre-booked spa treatment at the city-chic Club Hotel & Spa proved the perfect remedy to a rainy day.

Access to the hotel’s subterranean spa also allowed us unlimited use of the indoor saltwater pool (great for the skin) and thermal suite. After our aborted cycling expedition, ayurvedic massage treatments, administered with luxurious herbal oils, left us feeling light and limber.

Club Hotel and Spa | Jersey The Island Break

Feeling suitably relaxed and restored, we killed time until dinner by wandering around the hotel.

While there are no idyllic beach sunset/sunrise views to be seen from this hotel, the fresh and contemporary design and access to the Michelin-starred Bohemia are winning points. Our Double Deluxe room was spacious with plush carpeting, luxurious bed linen, and a comfortable double-bed and pillows.

Club Hotel and Spa | Jersey The Island Break

The hotel’s dark wood and glass interior design created a good balance between business and affordable luxury. An ‘honesty bar’ with a ready supply of drinks and snacks was a nice addition.

The Autumn weather had failed to put a dampener on our spirits and we set out for a night out in St. Helier.

 

A night out in St. Helier

Before dinner, at a local bar in St. Helier, we met Diogo Freitas, a young and talented mixologist, originally from Braga, Portugal. The bar’s interior design gave a tasteful nod to the 1940s; with aged leather seats, silk wallpapers and distressed oak panelling.

Cocktails in St Helier | Jersey The Island Break | Diogo Freitas

Update: Diogo has moved on from Ormer Jersey (now renamed Samphire) since we last visited

 

Diogo held us spellbound as he created his signature rum cocktail which he branded the ‘Red Light District’. The spectacular affair was presented in a mock birdcage with infused smoke creating a stunning visual effect.

Over drinks, we chatted about his Portuguese heritage and bonded over our shared love for the island of Madeira. We talked about nightlife in St. Helier, a vibrant yet relatively calm and mature affair. Over a smoked salmon and crab dinner, Diogo gave us more insight into the island’s food culture.

For an island of just 45 square kilometres, Jersey packs in over 300 restaurants, many of which are supported by a network of independent producers offering fresh local ingredients.

Like a magnet, Jersey has attracted a host of talented British chefs and entrepreneurs such as Michelin-starred Shaun Rankin (formerly of Ormer restaurant) and Steve Smith (Bohemia) who have collectively enhanced the island’s gastro-tourism reputation.

Our night out ended with another cocktail – a roasted artichoke, caramel and apple aperitif – and a toast to Diogo’s good health.

 

A surprisingly decent island break

Seafood at Oyster Box | Jersey The Island Break

Jersey turned out to be the island break we didn’t realise we needed. Over one weekend, we had seen enough to inspire us to plan a return visit to this gem in the British Isles.

 

Travel facts

Rooms at The Club Hotel and Spa Jersey start from £110 per night for a double deluxe. For more information, visit The Club Jersey. Spa packages start from £89 per person.

Infographic Jersey The Island Break #TheIslandBreak | Channel Islands

Disclosure: Our trip to Jersey was organised in conjunction with our media partners. We received complimentary hotel accommodation and meals during our stay. However, all opinions expressed in this article are ours. This post contains affiliate links which help us support our site. See our privacy policy.

 

PIN THIS

Jersey The Island Break #TheIslandBreak | Channel Islands

Jersey The Island Break #TheIslandBreak | Channel Islands

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).