Island hop through the Channel Islands

Cliffs of Jersey Island | Photo by Laurent Renault
Cliffs of Jersey Island | Photo by Laurent Renault

Island hop through the Channel Islands

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Rugged coastlines with pristine sandy alcoves and crystalline turquoise water lapping at the shore. A description worthy of almost any city lining the Mediterranean. However, these scenic spots are actually located in the English Channel, just off the coast of Normandy, France. Welcome to the Channel Islands, an archipelago of eight small islands (three of which are uninhabited) falling under British crown dependency. With its own government, laws, storied history (the only bit of British soil occupied by the Nazis during World War II) and unique mashup of British and French culture, the Channel Islands make a perfect weekend getaway.

Jersey

The largest of the islands, Jersey is the southernmost. Just 45.5 square miles, it’s easy for visitors to explore. Discover secret rooms hiding deep within Mont Orgueil Castle (also known locally as Gorey Castle). Or depending on the tide, walk or sail your way to Elizabeth Castle. Dating back to the 16th century, this bastion commands sweeping views of the island. Feeling hungry? Head to a charming beach café for cream tea or hit up one the three Michelin-starred restaurants. History buffs won’t want to miss the Jersey War Tunnels. Excavated by the island’s own residents under the helm of the Third Reich, the tunnels have become an homage to the suffering and heroism of the islanders during the war. 


Saint Peter Port in Guernsey | Photo by Christopher Smith

Guernsey

The second-largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey was once home to the famed French author, Victor Hugo, while in exile from 1855-1870. Visitors can stroll through the five-floor home overlooking the English Channel and French coastline, or walk through the fragrant gardens where his imagination let loose. Those seeking a little more adrenaline can check out Portinfer, which boasts some of the best surfing, highest tides and tidal fluctuations in Europe.

 

 

Alderney

The northernmost island is also the most remote (very limited flights to and from Southampton and Guernsey). Lined with deteriorating war fortifications, Alderney is best explored by bicycle or on foot. Keep an eye out at night for the elusive and rare blond hedgehog which is native to the island. Visitors can walk along the cobblestone streets and alleys lined with charming storefronts.


Beach on Island of Herm | Photo by Harald Biebel

Herm

Step away from the hustle and bustle, and go completely car-free on a small slice of beach heaven. Just three miles off the coast of Guernsey, Herm is a great spot for relaxing, unwinding and unplugging. Camp out on the white sand beaches and bask in clear, turquoise waters.

Sark

Another car-free island, the smallest of the Channel Islands is a mere 2.1 square miles. Designated one of the world’s first Dark Sky Islands, the stargazing is almost unparalleled on Sark. Adventure seekers can traverse their way around the rocky island by coasteering, kayaking, hiking and paddleboarding.

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