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Guernsey/Channel Islands

Has anyone ever spent time in Guernsey?

Posted by
2928 posts

I haven't, but would love the chance to. Here are a couple of books you might find inspiring as you make plans.

A Child's War: What was everyday life like for a child and her family during the five years of German occupation in Guernsey from 1940 to 1945?

A Time for Memories: This newly re-publised book includes stories of many islanders who lived through the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, 1940 - 1945,...

Posted by
20872 posts

I've been to Guernsey, but it was back in the 1970s, and the memory is beyond hazy. Last summer I spent 4 days on Jersey, though, and really enjoyed it. If you think you might have time for Jersey as well, post again and I'll mention some of the things I did during my stay there. My research before the latest trip indicated that there were probably somewhat more sights of interest to me on Jersey.

One thing of note: The Channel Islands have their own currency and coins, on par with the standard British notes and coins (which also circulate locally), but definitely not guaranteed to be accepted by all merchants after you leave the islands. So by all means keep a few souvenirs, but as you approach departure time, make sure you're holding only the standard stuff. The locals who handle money for a living are very understanding of the situation and will be glad to swap to help you out.

Critical: Ferries are fairly often canceled. Presumably for reasons of weather, but I confess to being a bit suspicious since I've had two canceled in just two trips to the islands. Last summer there were cancellations for three days in a row. We're talking very large ships, and the weather didn't see that bad--though I know the Channel can be rough and certainly don't know anything about this subject.

If you are remotely affected by seasickness, I recommend taking Dramamine or some other anti-nausea medication before boarding any ship or boat in that area. I didn't on my first trip, and I had to fumble hurriedly through my belongings to find my stash of Dramamine when the rolling started. It was a close call.

There are also flights to the islands, of course. I ended up leaving via EasyJet to Luton. I'm everlastingly grateful that I was able to snag a last-minute one-way ticket for under 100 GBP, including the checked-bag charge. It could have been much worse.

Posted by
389 posts

I have always spent my time in the Channel Islands on Sark. It's very unique - no cars, no street lights, you walk, hire a bike or take a ride in a horse and cart. The perfect place just to switch off from the hustle and bustle, sit on a cliff top and drink in the view.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for the information. I am interested in visiting all of the islands that are available to the public (Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and I think there's one more that begins with an H?). My big problem is logistics. I am coming from L.A., and I can't decide whether to fly to Guernsey from London (the baggage issue has stopped me in the past), take a train to Poole and take a ferry, or ferry from France. The ferry cancellation problem is interesting information. We will be going in September, and if they are inclined to cancel when they don't have enough passengers, I imagine that might be an issue at that time. I don't want to use up three or four days of vacation trying to get a ferry for whatever reason.

I'd be interested in more information related to Jersey and whether you think 4 days was enough or too much.

Thank you for your response.

Posted by
20872 posts

I really would suggest flying unless you have all the time in the world. The risk seems rather great if you depend on a ferry. There's good public bus service between the airport and St. Helier. Cost was 2 GBP one way in August.

I'm retired and can take long trips, so my position on how much time to spend on Jersey is too long is probably rather different from other travelers'. I had four full days and at least half a day after my ferry arrived from St. Malo. My visit followed 89 days in France, so I wasn't super-energetic by this point. I was taking public transportation, which is rather good but of course not the same as having your own car. There were some additional places I would have gone if it hadn't meant a bus trek across the island. I also did a lot of walking where others would have saved time by hopping on a bus; I use vacations as a means of getting extra exercise. I suspect an ambitious person could have pretty readily covered what I did in 3 days. But I don't care for beaches, so no time was spent soaking up sun.

This is what I did (in addition to time spent walking around the attractive central section of St. Helier on multiple occasions):

  • Jersey Museum (history and some art; not outstanding, but the history information was good background)
  • Orchid Farm. This is small and not cheap, but the displays are magnificent. I loved it. The owner is a multiple-medal-winner at the Chelsea Flower Show, which will not surprise anyone who sees the displays.
  • Jersey War Tunnels. Very impressive memorial to the horribly-treated foreign slave laborers brought in to build the Nazi fortifications. The tunnels are still there, and the displays are museum-like, with good explanatory material.
  • Jersey Zoo (formerly called the Gerald Durrell Wildlife Park). The zoo specializes in endangered species. Seeing the whole thing takes quite some time. You can certainly spend more than half a day there, I think.
  • Samares Manor. Expansive gardens.
  • La Hougue Bie. Prehistoric site. Because of my timing, I was able to take a quick free trip over to a current dig site. Certainly recommended for the archaeologically inclined.
  • Glass church. Small modern church with many fittings of clear Lalique glass. Very pretty. On the bus route west from St. Helier toward St. Aubin. Tell the driver where you want to get off or you'll miss it. It's not distinctive on the outside.
  • Shell-collecting (nothing special) along the bay west of St. Helier.

I built my target list partly by looking at the TripAdvisor Things To Do. Since few guide books cover the Channel Islands, that was quite helpful. The tourist office has helpful maps and brochures. It's either inside the museum or very near it.

The "H" island is Herm, I believe.

The food on the island is French-influenced. Having just come from northern France I didn't make a point of having crepes, but I notice that they were available.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much for your list. We're retired too, but I'm basically a home body, and I'm good for about a month away. We will be walking and using public transportation wherever we go, so we will allow extra time for that. I think you've convinced me to fly. You're comments are very helpful. I will print them, and use them as I plan. I thank you for taking the time to be so thorough.

Posted by
389 posts

Herm is VERY small but famous for its shell beach, again no cars. The other main populated island is Alderney but it's a bit further away so people often fly there from Guernsey or Jersey. If you're interested in WW2 it might be worth a visit, if not stick with Guernsey Sark and Jersey. The only way to get to Sark is by boat but it's worth it if you like having an Island to yourself. You can visit the Seignurie gardens, explore the Jewel cave by boat, watch beautiful sunsets at the Pilcher monument, enjoy a cream tea, freshly caught lobster, take a carriage ride over to Little Sark. It's also one of those specially designated areas for star gazing because of the lack of light pollution. If you do stay the night I'd urge you to support the businesses run by locals and not owned by the Barclay brothers who bought the small island of Brechqou and have slowly been trying to take over the island. I won't say too much more as they make my blood boil!

Posted by
9579 posts

Acraven, I appreciate your post on the things you did on Jersey. I knew there was a Gerald Durrell wildlife park somewhere but didn't realize it was on Jersey! And for the seasickness tips - I'm a terrible sailor.

Wavelee, thanks for starting the thread. The Channel Islands have always kind of been on my periphery.

Thanks to the others for info as well.