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6 things you must do in Jersey

By Catherine Leech

In May 2016, TripAdvisor named Jersey the British Isles’ number one island for the second year running and Jersey ranked 9th in the whole of Europe. Singled out by visitors for its scenery, beaches and sunshine, what else does the largest of the Channel Islands have to offer? Here are six personal picks.

Barge Aground, Jersey Heritage

1. Stay somewhere unique

Stay in a 1930s beachfront folly, a World War II radio tower, a 19th Century fort or a Martello tower. Jersey Heritage, a local charity, has transformed 13 of the island’s historic buildings to accommodate visitors looking for a unique holiday home. Sleeping from four to 30 people, you’ll find the usual comforts of a holiday let but above all, staying in one of these unique properties feels like you’re opening up a story book of your own. Find one here with prices from £10 per person per night.

La CorbiËre Lighthouse

2. Visit Corbière Lighthouse

I was amazed to see that Corbière Lighthouse has just one (large) light bulb that provides the warning beacon, visible for up to 18 miles. Since 1874, it has been alerting ships to the treacherous coastline around Jersey’s south west tip. Blue Badge Guide, Sue Hardy, is the only person authorised to take visitors inside the lighthouse; a half-day private guided tour costs £110. Alternatively, join Sue on a three-hour group tour (£15 pp including a donation to the RNLI) with dates in May, July, August and September. Email hardysue@hotmail.co.uk. Check out Jersey’s full range of tourist guides.

Portelet Bay, St Brelade

3. Discover Portelet Bay

Jersey’s coastline (now designated the Jersey Coastal National Park) is awe-inspiring, not least the dramatic 30-40ft tides. At low tide, the island doubles in size. It’s easy to find vast swathes of sandy beaches such as St Ouen’s, St Brelade’s, Grouville and St Aubin’s. Invest a bit more effort, however, and discover uncrowded picturesque coves. My favourite is Portelet Bay on the south coast – there’s a steep descent down cliff-side steps but once there, you’ll wonder if you’ve landed on some undiscovered Mediterranean island. Save some energy for the climb back up!

Learning to surf at St Ouen's Bay

4. Hit the surf

Those of us from the “Bergerac Generation” could be forgiven for thinking that Jersey is all Gin & Jags, a haven of genteel “niceness” for the older generation. Head to St Ouen’s, especially in the summer months, and you’ll see that Jersey is so much more. Surfers of all ages, sand-yachters, paddle-boarders and wind-surfers congregate on this five-mile Atlantic beach before re-fuelling at beachside cafes such as Big Vern’s Diner and El Tico. Other water sports include fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, coasteering and sailing. Find out more.

Sumatran orangutan, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

5. Meet orangutans

If you’ve been watching The Durrells on ITV, you might associate the family with the island of Corfu. But in the 1960s, Gerald Durrell almost single-handedly established Jersey as a centre of conservation. He founded what is now the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust and Durrell Wildlife Park where visitors can see gorillas, Sumatran Orangutans, and Andean Bears. It is open daily except Christmas Day – entry is £14.50 for adults, £10 for children aged 4 to 16. You can extend your stay at the Durrell Wildlife Camp (three nights from £480 for two adults and two children).

Viewing platfrom at Devil's Hole, St Mary (north coast)

6. Take a hike

Jersey measures only nine miles by five, so it’s easy to get around. However, the best way to discover its natural beauty and heritage is to hike. You can join a guided walk – the Autumn Walking Festival runs from 10-25 September 2016 – or make your own way, following a comprehensive network of self-guided routes. Themes include pub and ale walks, food trails, National Trust walks and heritage trails. Many take in the Green Lanes, a network of 50 miles of quieter lanes and roads with a speed limit of 15 mph.

All photos courtesy of Visit Jersey.

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