As the balmy summer sun sets across a spectacularly tranquil bay with paddle boarders gliding gently by; Surfer, James Hickman, contemplates Jersey as a world class surf destination.
The ebb and flow of surf are part of life in Jersey – an Island exposed to straight West Atlantic swells. Some of Europe’s finest beach breaks are there for the taking, as well as an abundance of learner waves.
In fact, St Ouen's bay has been a surf destination since 1920, and at one stage, was seen as the surf capital of Europe. In the 1960’s thousands of people packed the bay to watch the British Surfing Team riding boards made locally by one of Europe’s only board manufacturers of the time, Freedom Surfboards.
Fast forward to 2016, frontier surfers are forever discovering new surf spots from the icy waters of Antarctica, to remote reaches of Russia – nevertheless, Jersey has held its position as a stalwart on the European surf map. Not keen on arctic waters or able to travel to wild and remote specks of land in the quest of waves – I’ll stick to a nice, relaxing ferry ride, the UK’s warmest waters and the picturesque coast of the Channel Islands, thanks.
Now, the term ‘dawny’ is entrenched in all surfers’ vocabulary. It means getting in the water at the first possible sign of daylight. However, having sampled some of the Island’s great pubs the night before, I opt for a more civilised 8.00am start. A few other surfers are already in the water - as perfect peeling 4ft waves, greet me, stretching across the length of the bay. Nothing beats the feeling of being in the sea, looking back at a whole new perspective of the land as you ride postcard worthy waves, before paddling straight back and doing it all over again.
Once the arms start to ache, after relentless paddling, it’s time to call it a day in search of food. The Watersplash is the place to go for a relaxed meal or afternoon snack by the sea. The menu reflects the easy-going atmosphere with unique twists on some classic dishes, infusing the unique feel of St. Ouen's Bay.
As a self-confessed surfboard snob, I took my own board over to the Island - easy when you travel with Condor Ferries. However there are plenty of surfboard hire shops dotted around the Island. The Splash Surf Centre are especially good, and offer wetsuits and boards in sizes to suit all
There are plenty of other great surf spots to thin out the crowd and test different aptitudes; from Le Bray in the West to Plémont in the North, and many in between.
There really is a surf adventure waiting for everyone here, whether it’s bowly barrels or a relaxed ride - grab a board and get in the water, it really will be the highlight of your holiday!
Home of the Jersey Surfboard Club, this is the coolest place to be in or out of the water. It reflects the relaxed atmosphere of beach dining aimed at surfers, families, locals and tourists alike. All this whilst taking in the ever changing spectacular views of St. Ouen’s Bay.