By: Sarah Wigmore, South Wales Argus on 15/05/2013
Enjoy a trip to Jersey
With beautiful beaches, marinas, historic sites and superb locally produced food, Sarah Wigmore explores some of the great things this island has to offer...
This tiny Channel Island – just nine miles by five miles – is packed with things to do for the holidaymaker.
It offers the best of UK holiday resorts – but with sunny weather thrown in. It’s an overseas trip but without the hassle of long flights, foreign currency exchanges or time zone changes. It’s a delightful blend of continental culture and British beach towns, making this an attractive option when travelling with children.
We travelled with Condor Ferries departing from Poole to Jersey, with one stop at Guernsey on the way. Checkout their website for prices and deals and see the massive savings you could make compared to flights to European destinations. Ferry travel to the Channel Islands is a surprisingly easy option with no need for passports or the check-in rigmarole of flights. We took the family car, you can take a caravan – you can even take the family pet.
Boarding was swift and well coordinated with landing passes and parking dealt with efficiently. Friendly staff settled us into our seats and there are lots of facilities on board for adults and children, along with disabled facilities.
Condor Ferries offer a comfortable and speedy journey with lots to keep a family entertained so that you can make the ferry an enjoyable part of the holiday not just a means to an end. Club class is modern with comfy leather seats and the option of a reclining seat lounge, subject to booking.
There’s a bistro lounge serving freshly prepared food with plenty of space for families to relax and dine. Children will love the TV room playing cartoons throughout the journey or a large window allows them to watch their crossing in safety without the need for them to go on deck. And, of course, there’s the duty free shop with offers on alcohol, cigarettes and perfume.
During our trip we had the chance to visit the bridge and talk to the captain, much to the delight of my daughters Carys, six, and Megan, four.
There’s an abundance of quality accommodation available on Jersey – from B&Bs to luxury eco-lodges – and you can visit www.jersey.com to find out more.
We stayed at the Metropole Hotel in St Helier, part of the Modern Hotels group. It’s centrally located and just a short walk from the bustling town centre, marina and beach.
Our family room – for two adults and two children – was of an excellent standard. There’s a bar with entertainment, indoor and outdoor pool, and access to other Modern Hotels with kids play facilities.
But there is plenty to keep you entertained in St Helier and many attractions were within walking distance of the main town.
Meandering through the busy shopping centre, past many restaurants and bars, we found Liberation Square and the marina – where there sits the worlds largest steam clock and Jersey Museum.
We visited the Occupation Tapestry and Maritime Museum. This excellent and well thought out museum is situated in a former warehouse on the quay and offers a fascinating insight into the seafaring history of Jersey. Modern sculpture compliments traditional marine art and hands on displays will keep you entertained for hours. Marine heritage is brought to life through a succession of interactive exhibits that help visitors understand sailing, harnessing wind power, how waves are created or making a vessel float balancing the hull, sail and ballast before launching your own ship.
Discover how smugglers operated or step onto the complete bow of the Orient Star and experience life on deck, including a moving cabin which creeks and rolls with the sea.
From the beach front we hopped aboard an amphibious bus which took us to Elizabeth Castle – a magnificent outpost charting Jersey’s rich military history.
At low tide visitors can walk across the causeway and there’s also accommodation for holidaymakers.
But by far the best attraction was the Jersey War Tunnels. Jersey is steeped in history but no period is more fascinating than the German Occupation during the Second World War which left such a mark on the island.
With the identity card of a real islander in hand you go underground to a labyrinth of tunnels to discover the extraordinary tale of life and its hardships during this time. The tunnels, along with all Nazi war machinery plus everyday items from the time, are all well preserved and I’m not surprised this is one of the most visited sites in Jersey.
Other great tourist attractions are Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust sanctuary, Aquasplash waterpark, Jersey’s Living Legend village, the Jersey Bowl and aMaizin! Adventure Park.
There’s the annual food festival between May 18-26 plus many great destinations for foodies, a greenfingered guide for those who want to discover floral Jersey, ale trails and walking routes or grab a What’s On guide to find fun activities through the entire year.
Or why not simply enjoy a walk along one of Jerseys stunning beaches and enjoy the Jersey icecream.