Last month our little family of four hopped on a plane for 30 minutes to visit the gorgeous channel island, Jersey. As the southernmost of the British isles, Jersey is also the largest, at a whopping 5 miles x 9 miles.
From the first moment we stepped off the plane, I knew this would be a seaside getaway my family would love. From the gorgeous beaches to the incredible food and the natural beauty, we couldn’t get enough of this tiny island! It made for a perfect weekend trip, even though to be honest we could have easily stretched it to a week (or more!). It was also incredibly family friendly with so much to keep the children entertained.
Ok, let’s get to it: here are my top 5 reasons that Jersey is my new favorite seaside getaway.
Exhilarating road trips from cliffside to beaches
Driving in Jersey is an experience in itself! One minute you’re driving next to the water and the next you’re winding through mountains and farmland next to the famous Jersey cows. We had a few noteworthy drives to share.
On the northwest side of the island, we drove a winding path that took us to the top of Plémont Beach, with cliffsides home to peregine falcons, and beaches and tide pools you can only explore at low tide. We climbed down the long staircase to the beach, but high tide meant we couldn’t explore the hidden cave or the golden sand beaches. A good reason to return one day.
A cafe at the top of the cliffs has a lovely lookout over the ocean, but it is cash only so don’t get caught out or you’ll miss a chance for Jersey ice cream.
Another favorite drive was from the Mont Orgueil castle in Gorey to the charming Rozel beach. The roads wind alongside the coast with beautiful views of crashing waves and tiny seaside cottages dotting the landscape, and suddenly a 180 degree turn has you driving up a hillside, passing by farmland and tall trees. Within 5 minutes, you’re spit back out onto the cute village town of Rozel.
I think there may be about 4 small shops and cafes in Rozel, and 10 houses that hug Rozel Beach. The tiniest cutest village you’ve ever seen! There were a few holiday rentals that we may try to book on our next visit, too. At the end of the pier, The Hungryman food truck awaits with classic beachfront fare: burgers, chips, sausages, etc. We spent an hour on the beach playing in the waves and eating our delicious burgers and chips, quite content to never leave!
We were lucky to stay in St Brelades Bay Hotel, a gorgeous 4-star luxury oceanfront hotel right on the golden beach St Brelades Bay. Very family friendly and with gardens and a beautiful outdoor pool area for the summertime.
The tides are quite dramatic, which made for an interesting lesson about tides and moons with our children (wait but I still don’t really understand how this works?!). I read that at low tide the island doubles in size! Not sure if that’s completely true, but the beaches definitely double in size. We loved exploring St. Brelades Bay, especially the archaeological cave with fossils, La Cotte de St.Brelade.
Other beaches on our favorites list: Portelet Bay Beach, Rozel Beach, Plémont Beach, and the beach near La Pulente. We went off-season (the last weekend in March) so there really weren’t any crowds on the beach.
The cutest wildlife
You’ve heard of the famous Jersey cows that dot the island. We saw plenty of these cuties, but we saw so much more! Tiny little lizards had invaded the walls of Mont Orguiel Castle, and we found a few in the garden behind St Brelades Bay Hotel, too. We also have a bird watcher in the family and kept them very happy with sightings of peregine falcons and other seabirds.
One of our favorite days out was to the Jersey Zoo. The Zoo was the first of its kind to open with conservation in mind, and still today has a strong mission around animal conservation, housing some of the world’s rarest animals. The zoo grounds were beautiful, too, with magnolias, cameillas, and jasmine on every corner. We loved the flamingos, fruit bats, meerkats and the gorillas. The zoo also has a fantastic indoor childrens play area with a nice cafe, which made a perfect little spot to relax during a short rain storm.
The local food scene
I can’t think about Jersey without remembering the incredible food we had. Honestly, maybe I’ve been to too many British seasides where fish and chips rule the day, but Jersey was worlds apart! I think the French influence may have something to do with it, but we were happy to eat our way through this island.
Portelet Bay Cafe: A small family-run cafe on the tucked away Portelet Bay. Sit beachside and enjoy authentic wood-fired pizzas and seasonal freshly caught fish. We had lovely pizzas and a mezze plate, and finished with – what else – ice cream! The owners are from the UK, escaped hectic city life for this piece of paradise and restored a formerly run-down building into the gorgeous inspired place it is today. Access can be tricky, however, as it’s only by walking down stairs from the headland. Be sure to book ahead as it fills up.
Jersey Crab Shack: Seafood and more at this beautiful beachfront location in St Brelades Bay. The interiors are lush, the food is great, and service is even better! If you’re not near St Brelades Bay, there are other locations on the island.
The Hungryman: A bit of a wildcard, this food truck serving gourmet burgers, sausages, crab sandwiches and homemade cakes is permanently parked on Rozel Bay. Seating is al fresco, so bundle up if it’s a chilly day. The food is great and the charming atmosphere of Rozel Bay is unbeatable. Check their opening hours before you make the trip!
St. Helier Food Market: Local market serving the island for 200+ years, we found a lovely spot in bustling St. Helier to sit and enjoy some noodles and gyoza at ginger and cupcakes at the pretty bakery, Flour.
A good friend familiar with Jersey also recommend El Tico for brunch, which is definitely on our list for next time.
With small children, relaxing on a holiday is sort of – nonexistent. Which is why we normally just call it “a trip”. 🙂
Jersey, however, spoiled us. There are loads of fun days out for kids, but the key – every single place we visited had clean, modern, and actually nice facilities (no soft play plastic grimy chairs). And most importantly, they cracked the code of having really nice cafes to keep the parents happy. Also helps that in Jersey you’re never in the car for more than 20 minutes so no “are we there yet?” cries for help from my very best backseat drivers.
Amazin’ Adventure Park has indoor and outdoor play areas, a small petting zoo, go-karts, slides, bouncing and more.
Jersey Zoo – Conservation focused zoo, beautiful grounds with a lovely cafe onsite.
Mont Orgueil Castle – This imposing fortress protected Jersey from the French invasion over 500 years ago and still stands today, with beautiful views over the island and ocean. Perched on a hill above the lovely Gorey harbour, with great restaurants and a perfect spot to enjoy Jersey ice cream.
The Botanic Gardens at Samarès Manor – Beautiful gardens with so many little hidden corners to explore and play, a newly opened cafe serving a gorgeous menu with vegan cakes, and – of course – a lovely little playground with picnic areas.
We moved quite fast and fit all this in during a 3 day/2 night trip, but we made lasting memories and fell in love with this small island! Thank you to Visit Jersey for having us, and we cannot wait to return for the perfect island break.