What better way to spend a sunny Saturday morning than relaxing on an (almost deserted) beach on an idyllic island. A deserted beach in the middle of tourist season? How can that be possible?
There is nothing wrong with this beach, in fact the opposite. Jersey is stunning and has some amazing beaches, but if you’re a tourist, you’re more likely to head for St Brelade’s bay (if you’re one of the cool people)
or St Ouen’s if you enjoy surfing
Then there’s family friendly Greve de Leq; the list goes on.
That’s just it. You have your pick of beaches in a space that’s only 30 miles wide. So why were there no people on the beach we went to? Portlet bay is equally stunning but there are two things. One is the steep steps that lead down to it and you know that once down there, you will have to get back up at some point. The other is the Inn at the top of those stairs. Most people don’t make it past the Inn.
The beach has everything you could ask for though, from soft sand, to perfect sandcastle wetness, to rock pools for exploring and an abandoned German lookout tower to climb up to. There’s also a pizza shack, complete with wood-fired pizza oven. We didn’t eat there, but I popped in for take away coffees and marvelled at the pizzas and mouthwatering salads that were passing by me as I waited.
Last weekend was a whistle stop tour to my favourite island to catch up with a friend who lives there. I love going there and a weekend is never enough. Every time I visit, I fall in love with the place all over again and I can’t help but envy my friend and her family for the lifestyle they lead. With a beach within walking distance, what more do you need, especially if you have a dog and a young family? My friend’s three young boys love adventure and the outdoors. They are growing up in an environment where you don’t need to lock your doors, or your cars. It feels safe and free.
I took my middle daughter with me and we set off early for an 8am flight from Gatwick. One of the great things about going to Jersey is the proximity to home. A quick 45 minutes flight and you’re there, but it feels as though you have gone further afield because the climate is much warmer than England and the island has a heavy French feel. It even has it’s own currency of sorts, with the Jersey pound note bringing with it an air of nostaglia.
Unfortunately we arrived to rain, which set in for the day, but with our hotel room made ready early, we were able to unpack our things and use the time to relax and watch a film. I hadn’t realised when booking, but our trip coincided with Battle of Flowers week. This carnival attracts a huge number of visitors to the island and is a spectacle of colour and sounds. We had missed the day parade, but the moonlight parade was scheduled for that very evening and my daughter was desperate to go. I wasn’t so sure, given the rain and the fact it was cold and damp, but I relented and we went along. Although we froze, the parade was amazing and particularly so for seeing the floats lit up. The rain held off too, which was a blessing.
Saturday provided some much needed sunshine and after breakfast, we made our way over to my friends house and then on to the beach with them. An afternoon tea with my friend, followed by dinner at their house later completed my day. My daughter had a great day playing with the boys and I had to drag her back to the hotel.
We took a stroll through the streets of St Helier the next morning. The island’s main town is where you’ll find all the major stores, plus some local and French ones too. Jersey is famed for it’s food, having an abundance of local produce and fresh fish and seafood at it’s disposal. Plus you can’t forget the Jersey cows. Those big doe-eyed, cute faced animals who produce the creamiest of milk that has a taste all of it’s own.
There are so many things to do on the Island that a weekend isn’t long enough. Mont Orgruil castle, Elizabeth castle, Durell wildlife park and the Amazin Maze adventure park are just a few of our favourites. Older visitors can immerse themselves in history via the many leftover relics from the German occupation during the Second World War, including the underground hospital. There are also visitor centres for Jersey’s main craft indsutries such as the potteries, gold and silver smiths and Jersey Pearl. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to fabulous restaurants and eateries and then there are the beaches, those lovely bays of which there are so many to explore.
Clean and modern: a mix of culture and history, with trendy bars, restaurants and hotels, Jersey is as far away from a tired and dated seaside resort as you can get. The island is charming and I dare you not to fall in love with it.
Where to stay
We stayed at The Merton in St Helier, which is a welcoming and family-friendly hotel, with a traditional feel. The food is excellent, served in buffet form, with choices to suit every taste. There is a swimming pool, situated directly across from the hotel. This includes both indoor and outdoor pool, plus restaurant and sun lounges and small play area. You can get two bedroomed family suites, or there are some apartments for larger groups.
On previous visits, we stayed at Hotel la Place, St Brelade’s. This hotel is much smaller than The Merton, but has a small pool. The advantage of this hotel for families, is that it has a courtyard of self-catering cottages of mixed sizes. You can enjoy the freedom of self catering, but with the facilities of a hotel right next door, including room service options. We enjoyed breakfast in the hotel every morning and the use of the pool. The food was fantastic, although we didn’t eat there every evening.
We flew from Gatwick with British Airways, but you can fly there from most UK airports, with FlyBe and Easy Jet. Flights can vary, but average around £100 per person for a return ticket.