With Guernsey’s scenic coastal walks, rich history and outstanding gastronomy, it’s no wonder visitors often want to stay. But, it’s also worth spending some time getting to know the unique archipelago this island lies within; dotted across the English Channel, the Channel Islands exhibit an identity that sets them apart from any other archipelago worldwide. From Guernsey’s dramatic forts and rugged coastline, travel to the pristine beaches of islands known for their rich wildlife and seclusion. And by catching a boat from St Peter Port, it’s easy to set out on your Channel Island hopping trip while staying in the luxury of The Old Government House Hotel and The Duke of Richmond in Guernsey.
By travelling just 20 minutes from St Peter Port by boat, visitors can spend the day exploring the island of Herm’s deserted coastline, including the especially idyllic Shell Beach, where the sandy shores (made up of tiny shell fragments) are lapped by remarkably clear water. From there, move on to the secluded patch of coast, Belvoir Bay. This pretty beach lies on the island’s sheltered east coast, with the welcome addition of a beach café to pick up an ice cream or postcard from. More souvenir shops and lunch stops can be found by strolling into Herm Village, which is at the heart of life on the island.
On a cliff-top plateau raised up from the sea, Sark is a remarkably peaceful destination to explore. Here, the car-free roads mean a horse-drawn carriage is the way to go, with bicycles to hire, too – although the network of footpaths makes seeking out the caves and coves easier on foot. The island’s most dramatic site is undoubtedly La Coupée, a narrow cliff-top path (known as an isthmus) connecting Sark to Little Sark, although history buffs will be more intrigued by the island’s abandoned silver mines. Recently, Sark was designated a Dark Sky Island – its isolation making for exceptional star-gazing – and with the arrival of tourists, cafes and restaurants have popped up to offer visitors traditional cream teas and fresh seafood. Despite feeling so isolated, Sark is just a 50-minute boat trip from Guernsey.
Alderney is the closest of the Channel Islands to France, yet just an hour and fifteen minutes by boat from Guernsey. Many people visit Alderney for its remarkable abundance of wildlife. Here, there are around 300 species of birds to spot, including puffins that nest offshore. Visitors can set out on cliff-top walks and find their way between the island’s sandy coves while stumbling upon historic fortresses. In St Anne, the island’s capital, colourful houses line cobbled streets, which are centred around a church known as the ‘cathedral of the Channel Islands’. And as the largest of these islands, Alderney is also home to the archipelago’s only working railway.
As the nearest island to Guernsey’s shores, Lihou is actually just a 10-minute walk across a cobbled causeway, which is only revealed at low tide. After checking the tidal times, set out on a hike to this wildlife-rich patch of land, and designated RAMSAR Wetland Site and Marine Reserve. After setting foot on the island, visitors immediately arrive at a house that was shelled during the German occupation, from where they can follow the coastal path that veers to the left. This trail leads visitors to the ruins of a Priory built by Benedictine monks, and the natural Venus Pool, which only forms at low tide when it’s deep enough for people to jump in.
After exploring these unique islands, catch the boat back to St Peter Port, where a seafood dinner and glass of fine wine will be waiting for you at The Old Government House Hotel and The Duke of Richmond.
Image credits: Cover photo of Herm © Visit Guernsey. The Herm coastline © Visit Guernsey. La Coupee Sark © Visit Guernsey. Alderney Lighthouse © Visit Guernsey. Lihou Causeway © Visit Guernsey.