Considering how accessible it is from the UK, I have not visited Guernsey or any of the Channel Islands on my travels. I feel a lot of us Brits fall into that category. The question I am trying to answer is why? Especially having just returned from there and experiencing all Guernsey has to offer.
I posted a tweet before my trip that seemed to resonate with a lot of readers. I said show me somewhere that is absolutely stunning, has lovely weather, is open to UK fully vaccinated travellers, and is less than one hour by plane from England. The answer of course is Guernsey, and it took me just 3 hours on the ferry, with Condor Ferries.
In my first article about the islands of Guernsey, I picked my top 10 “Must Do” activities. I spent a full week here, which I’d say is about right to get a proper feel. Of course, I didn’t do everything, so I’d love to know about anything I’ve missed in the comments.
Covid Travel Requirements in Guernsey
At the time of writing and the time of my visit, fully vaccinated UK residents travelling from the “Common Travel Area” (UK, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland), can arrive with no self-isolation requirements. You must have had the second dose 14 days prior to arrival and have a recognised proof of vaccination (in my case using the NHS App).
It also means you don’t need to organise PCR tests before you travel or on arrival. You do however need to purchase 5 lateral flow tests for £25 and complete the Travel Tracker. The lateral flow tests must be done on the day of arrival and every other day after during your stay.
For EU residents, the rules are similar, but it depends where you travelled 14 days prior to arrival in Guernsey. Please check the Travel Guide by Visit Guernsey.
#1 Visit the Little Chapel
I’ve not put these in order of preference, but I have purposely put the Little Chapel first. That’s for one good reason, I nearly didn’t go myself! I didn’t see it as my thing, but how wrong was I?
The Little Chapel is one of the smallest chapels in the world measuring just 9 x 4.5 feet. It’s like nothing you’ll have seen before, and that’s why it’s top of my list. The Little Chapel has been painstakingly decorated with small pebbles and broken china pieces. And the attention to detail is incredible.
The Little Chapel has an interesting history about how it came to be. Here’s my short version; it was started in 1914 by Brother Deodat to create a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. Two previous versions were demolished, believe it or not because they were too small. So this is his third version. Until 1965 it was entrusted to Brother Cephas, and in 1977 a committee was established to restore it.
Visiting the Little Chapel is completely free, however the foundation relies on donations for its upkeep, so I strongly urge you to donate in the box at the front.
#2 Visit Herm
Herm is one of those places that must be seen to be believed. The beaches here genuinely look like those you find in the Caribbean. I sat on Shell Beach drinking a Herm Gold (great beer!) and thought “Wow, people travel halfway around the world for beaches like this, but this is one hour by plane”.
Their website proudly boats “No cars, no crowds and definitely no stress”. That sums it up. You can get there on a 20-minute ferry with the Herm Trident from St Peter Port, and after a short walk you’re on the beach. Although I don’t recommend just sitting on the beach.
For me, Herm is split into two. To the south, the rugged natural coastline with amazing views and wildlife. And the sandy beaches to the north. The good news is the island is plenty small enough to do it all in one day.
Hiking the entire perimeter takes around 2-hours. After getting off at the Rosaire Steps I walked anti-clockwise. This takes on tougher part of the hike first and explores the coastline and views of Jethou (a private island). You pass several stunning coves and beaches, including Puffin Bay and Belvoir Bay. My plan was to reach the beaches by lunch, then have the afternoon to relax.
When you first spot Shell Beach you won’t quite believe your eyes. I honestly sat with my lunch at the café feeling like I was in the Caribbean. I strongly recommend a walk to Alderney point and around the rest of the beaches. It’s very easy to find a spot all to yourself.
Herm also has a population of Puffins nesting on the island, and you can spot them between the months of March to July. Unfortunately, I just missed them.
If you can’t decide between Herm and Sark, check out my article Sark or Herm!
#3 Visit Sark
Sticking with the islands, Sark is another unspoiled car-free island, with a very different feel to Herm. With more residents, it has a busier village but with a charm that feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It takes 50 minutes by ferry from St Peter Port.
By far the best way to explore is by bike, especially if you only have one day to explore. Before I rented a bike, I headed down to Dixcart Bay (a must visit beach) for some kayaking with Outdoor Guernsey. At some point on the islands of Guernsey, you must see the coastline from a kayak!
Our tour lasted two-hours and took us in and out of small caves, whilst talking about some of the geological history of Sark. I loved it. But it did leave me short on time to explore the rest of Sark!
Next, I grabbed a bike from A to B Cycles and tried to tick off as many of the main sites as possible. First was La Coupée, the stunning causeway connecting Sark and Little Sark. It’s easy to see why this spot makes every postcard of Sark! If you have time, you can hike down to La Grande Grêve beach too, that’s beautiful.
After that I went to Pilcher’s Monument, which has stunning views, and Sarkhenge. I totally recommend these but not as much as Window in the Rock. That was stunning and also has a lovely swim spot.
Finally make time to grab a pint! Two reasons. One, you’ve earned it! And two, its much cheaper on Sark than in Guernsey. The Bel Air Inn is far more tourist friendly compared to The Mermaid. I’ve been to many local pubs in my time and The Mermaid was a big disappointment. It was very unwelcoming, both the locals and the bar staff.
If I had more time I would have loved to stay overnight, did you know Sark is the world’s first Dark Sky Island? Stargazing here looks next level! I also didn’t get time to explore La Seigneurie Gardens or the Lighthouse.
If you can’t decide between Herm and Sark, check out my article Sark or Herm!
#4 Go Hiking
The first thing I did on the morning of my arrival in Guernsey was head out hiking. It was only a short one, but I knew from then Guernsey is a place to explore by foot. This hike was around the southwest, passing the Fairy Ring, Fort Pezeries and the Hanois Lighthouse. You can also follow this walk to Lihou Island, somewhere I wish I had time to visit.
So, to say you’re spoilt for choice is an understatement. You can basically hike around the whole island following the coastal path. My favourite must be along the rugged south coast. There’s lots of elevation and stunning viewpoints, along with small coves and beaches for a refreshing dip in the sea.
Visit Guernsey has some brilliant short walking trails on their website, easy to follow and for all levels. You can plan incredible scenery, local food, and the island’s history all in one walk.
#5 Explore St Peter Port
No matter what you do or where you go in Guernsey, you’ll find yourself back at the capital St Peter Port on numerous occasions. You’ll probably already have a few sites on your list, like Castle Cornet, the Victoria Tower or Hauteville House (where Victor Hugo lived). You really could spend the entire week in St Peter Port exploring the history and museums.
Personally, I loved exploring the old, cobbled streets and finding my own shops, bars, and cafes. For example, wandering past The Terrace and thinking ‘I bet that has a nice view’. I was right. I found myself there for a pint of local beer a few times.
The same was true for one of my other little gems; The Little Big Brew Co Spotted from the street I popped in to say hello and found myself with a tasting flight and a quick brewery tour. This recently opened tap room is fantastic. One of the most welcoming bars I went in (yes not all pubs were that welcoming), and it had a laid-back feel with free pool and table football. And the beer is spot on!
Finally, I had a gin tasting at the 5-star OGH (Old Government House). There’s most definitely a posh vibe walking around the hotel. But for tastings (they also do wine tasting) and the Indian restaurant onsite, it’s well worth a visit.
When it comes to food there are some highly recommended restaurants here, conveniently leading on to my next ‘must do’…
#6 Eat out
This might seem like a bit of a given. Of course, you are going to eat out on your holiday! But hear me out. I wasn’t expecting Guernsey to have so many great restaurants, and they are dotted all around the island. I ate out a lot and still have many restaurants and recommendation that I could not explore.
Many of which are in St Peter Port. Unfortunately, I didn’t find time to go to Pier 17 or Gusto, both came highly recommended. However, I can suggest Brunch at Coco Mini Brasserie, and my top tip must be The Hook. The first on the list of must visit restaurants below:
- The Hook had everything. Fantastic food, a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere, incredible cocktails, and very welcoming staff. I highly recommended the sushi, the Beef Wellington, and the Chuck Norris cocktail (I love a bourbon cocktail).
- Roc Salt. Perfectly situated at Chouet Bay (which is worth a visit alone), Roc Salt was a surprise package for me. A small and intimate restaurant, but with a chilled-out beach bar vibe. The food and service were great, I had the catch of the day.
- Cobo Bay Hotel. A perfect spot on the beach, you’ll probably come here anyway. Cobo Bay Hotel set up a small table for one overlooking the sunset. The mostly seafood menu here was to a very high standard. Grab a drink at The Rockmount after.
- La Reunion. The only place on this list I didn’t eat, and I see it as a good sign that they were fully booked my entire trip! I also have friends that rated it the best on the island. They offer an A La Carte menu and afternoon tea, with superb sea views, and are known for their cocktails.
A quick word of warning – eating out in Guernsey is not cheap. Expect to pay £30-50 per person for two-courses and a drink or two, and more for speciality dishes.
#7 Relax on the South Beaches
With most of the accommodation either in St Peter Port or to the West, it’s easy to overlook the beaches in the south. On my last day I had some time to relax (yes, my trips are usually not that relaxing!). I wanted to see two or more beaches and get out on the Paddle-board.
I started at Petit Bot Bay. It’s a small downhill narrow road leading to it, with limited parking. But once you get there its totally worth the effort. It’s stoney at high-tide and sandy at low-tide. I went on a very sunny Sunday and it still wasn’t busy at all. It’s calm enough to swim, and you can explore the coastline on a kayak or Paddle-board. This is also where Outdoor Adventures do one of their Coasteering trips.
My second spot was Fermain Beach, and once I got here that was it. I wasn’t moving until the sun went down. It was another “I can’t believe this is so easy to get to from England” moment. I had a lovely lunch at the café, before getting the Paddle-board out for the afternoon. It’s one of my favourite spots and right next to Buho, a Mexican restaurant which I would have also liked to try.
#8 Rib Boat Tour
If you’re short on time or stopping in Guernsey on a cruise, then the Rib Boat Tour is a good option, especially for seeing Herm. I did the Herm Explore Wildlife Voyage with Island Rib Voyages, what an adrenaline rush!
If you’ve never been on a Rib Boat than I’d highly recommend it. As we slowly cruised out of St Peter Port, passing Cornet Castle on our right, I knew a surge of speed was coming. Then whoosh! It’s certainly a buzz.
The tour took us past Herm’s smaller islets and reefs, with the guide telling stories and history along the way. That was until the Seals stole the show. Yes, there’s a resident seal population here and you’re almost guaranteed to see them, and of course if the season is right, you’ll see puffins too. There’s also a possibility of seeing dolphins.
We were a little unlucky with the weather on our tour, but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, it was still a great way to explore Herm from the sea.
#9 Enjoy a West Coast Sunset
If you’re planning to eat at one of the West Coast restaurants, then you might just catch a sunset. But if not, then why not come here and relax on the beach with some fish and chips. It seems to be a bit of a local tradition, and it’s a good one.
I went to the chippy at Cobo Bay which was really reasonably priced, and took them down to eat on the beach. It was a perfect spot to soak up the atmosphere of people enjoying the beach, there was even a windsurfer out there until the sun finally set.
If you are here on a Sunday check if Cobo Bay Hotel has its live music set from the balcony, it’s previously been held on every other Sunday. What a way to enjoy the sunset and with live music. And if not Cobo then try Vazon beach and L’Eree Beach, which have equally good sunsets.
#10 Visit a Fort & learn about the history
And last but by no means least, take some time to visit one of the many fortifications around the island. I made it to three or four and find the information and history behind each of them fascinating. If I had time I would have spent more of my trip in the museums, but this trip was more about exploring the outdoors.
My favourite for was Fort La Merchant, due to the stunning location on the rugged coast and next to Loophole Tower No.5. It’s also right next to the Royal Guernsey Golf Club. If you like your golf, I haven’t seen too many courses with these kinds of panoramic views.
Castle Cornet and its museum is also a must visit. I only got to see it from the ferries (possibly the best view of the castle), but on my next visit I will make sure I go. I’ve been told to allow 3 hours to explore the castle, the museum and it’s four gardens.
Getting there and where to stay
I took my little campervan over on the car ferry with Condor Ferries, which I always find hassle free and smooth journey. You can travel from Guernsey via Poole or Portsmouth. I chose Poole as it’s a much quicker ferry, and you’ll pass through the stunning Poole Harbour and Old Harry Rocks. The lounges were spacious with lots of food options onboard, and I found it a very relaxing way to start my trip.
If you’re taking a campervan you do need to stay in a campsite rather than just sleep in the van. Therefore, most of my nights I was at Beaucette Marina, a lovely quiet spot on the Northeast coast. Beaucette Marina is within easy reach to St Peter Port with good bus links too, so a perfect spot for me. There is an onsite restaurant that has great reviews, and it’s right next to Fort Doyle.
I spent two nights at the Imperial Hotel in the southwest. This was a stunning spot with amazing views. My room was huge and had views over L’Eree Beach. The highlight was the healthy breakfast, which for me is the most important meal of the day. The restaurant is also a local favourite, which has a lovely atmosphere.
With more time…
Naturally with these articles it’s impossible to do everything! But I did manage to tick off a fair few from my list. With more time I’d love to visit more forts and museums, Lihou Island, the Moulin Huet Tearooms, Petit Port and do many more hikes.
If you have any suggestions for more to do, please let me know in the comments below. And watch out for my follow up articles on the islands of Guernsey. Thanks for reading.
This article was supported by Visit Guernsey but as always, the opinions and photos in the article are all my own, and I think it’s clear to see I loved every minute of my trip!