The Channel Islands are a group of islands situated approximately 70 miles south of Weymouth and just 20 miles from the French coast. Jersey is the largest of the islands and is governed independently from the others. Guernsey is the second largest followed by Alderney, Sark and Herm, which together form the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
There is another small island Chausey, south of Jersey – not generally included in the geographical definition of the Channel Islands but occasionally as a ‘Channel Island’ in English despite its French jurisdiction. It is part of France and is incorporated in the commune of Granville (Manche), and although popular with visitors from France, it is rarely visited by Channel Islanders as there are no direct transport links from the other islands.
The very large tidal variation provides an environmentally rich inter-tidal zone around the islands.
Jersey lies about fifteen miles west of the coast of France, or the Cape of La Hague, and eighty four miles south of Portland, in Dorsetshire.
It is about twelve miles in length, and around six in width. The chief towns are St. Helier, and St. Aubin..
It is finely watered, abounds with fish, fruit, and cattle; makes excellent cyder, has great variety of sea-fowl, the best of honey, fine wool, and remarkably fine butter. France supplies it with wines, brandy, etc. The partridges here are remarkable for having red feet, and among its fish is a remarkable sort called Ormer. They are governed by the Norman laws, the courts of judicature in England having no jurisdiction over any of these Islands.
Guernsey is six miles long by five miles wide, Guernsey is roughly triangular in shape. It is divided into 10 parishes: St. Peter Port (the main town), St. Martin’s, Torteval, St. Saviour’s, Castel, Vale, St. Sampson’s, St. Andrew’s, Forest and St. Peter’s. The population of Guernsey is approximately 60,000, and whilst this would appear high for such a small landmass, due to the extensive, and beautiful views out to sea from so many points on the Island, it creates the feeling of space and serenity.
Being so close to France has definitely influenced the Guernsey culture and language, with bistros and boutiques in abundance, and Patois (Norman French) still being spoken by some of the older residents. However, Guernsey remains part of the British Isles and as such is much like any other area in Britain speaking English, driving on the left hand side of the road, reading British papers and watching British television!
However, whilst the Island is considered British, it is not part of the United Kingdom nor the European Union. The Island is governed independently by the States of Guernsey, most prominent and renowned issues being tax and social security. Both company and personal income tax is set at 20%, making Guernsey an attractive destination for both individuals and companies. Social Security is very similar to National Insurance with the exception of the health service, which is predominantly private.
The climate in the Channel Islands, as is to be expected being so near to continental Europe, is warmer than in the UK with, on average, 7.5 hours of sunshine per day from May to September and temperatures in the summer often reaching the mid 70’s F. Guernsey is often the hottest spot in the British Isles during the summer and when the weather is good, most locals head straight for the beach.
There are 27 beaches, numerous country and cliff walks, and water sports galore – whether you are interested in catching the wave or catching the fish or just jumping on a boat and going for an evening drink at one of the neighbouring islands.
With so much to offer, Guernsey is an appealing location for many.
There are 30 beaches and bays on the island. The beaches in the more exposed west are great for a bracing walk and are a major draw for surfers.
In the sheltered south are the more populated family beaches, ideal for safe swimming and a spot of sunbathing.
Exploring the island up close is best on foot. The cliffs on the north of the island are popular with visitors who like a bit of a ramble and there’s plenty to explore down at sea level. Jersey nearly doubles in size when the tide drops over 40 feet; it has the second biggest tidal shift in the world.
Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust – Zoo
German Underground Hospital – Historic site
The Living Legend Village – An exciting way to learn the history of the island. Amusement/theme park
Hamptonne Country Life Museum– Historic village
La Hougue Farm, Farm
St. Helier Beach
Jersey Coach Tours – Tour
Guernsey has a wealth of history waiting for you to discover. There are many ways to explore, including guided walks with an accredited guide.
Guernsey has many historical sites of interest. Such attractions include Guernsey Tapestry, Castle Cornet or the German Occupation Museum.
Here are just a few of the attractions you will find in Guernsey;
Hauteville House – Historic home
How to get there
Guernsey – Traveling to the island of Guernsey is easy with flights from most parts of the UK.
About 1 hour from London, 1.5 hours from Glasgow. Or take a ferry from the South coast of England, which takes about 3 hours, depending on tides and season
Jersey – Over 50 flights to Jersey a day from over 25 airports
Guernsey – Most of the roads are narrow, often with blind corners. The maximum speed allowed is 35mph so driving a rented car is practical.
Guernsey; Guernsey ferries dock at St Peter Port. There are 5 ferry routes to and from Guernsey to Jersey, Southern England and Northern France.
Jersey; Ferry services operate from Jersey to Weymouth, Portsmouth and Poole, as well as to Guernsey and St Malo.
Jersey – Bus services run across the island and cover all important attractions.
Guernsey – Bus services run across the island and cover all important attractions.
Liberation Day –May – Liberation from German Occupying Forces during World War II. A variety of activities and events are planned as well as a commemorative service.
Gorey Fete de la Mer – May – Set in the shadow of the magnificent Mont Orgueil Castle, Gorey is the place to head for an array of traditional sea food, al fresco dining and entertainment, along Gorey Pier.
Alfresco Arts! July – August – Street theatre, outdoor performances, family shows in the park, music and workshops. These peak events include evening performances of theatre, music and spectacle taking place in St Helier.
‘Out of the Blue’ Maritime Festival – July – Enjoy a spectacular Maritime extravaganza around St Helier harbour. Enjoy street theatre and an al fresco food fair, boat trips and sea shanties. Visiting Norman traders from nearby France will also be selling Soup au Poisson, Crepes, Calvados and other ‘fruits of the sea’.
West Show – July – This bi-annual country show takes place in the country Parish of St Peter and features rural exhibits, traditional craft stalls, demonstrations and food tastings associated with a traditional country ‘fayre’ as well as introducing visitors to the island’s most famous residents – the beautiful Jersey Cow.
Le Tour des Ports de la Manche – July – Over 100 yachts arrive in St Helier as part of this annual sailing race around ports in Normandy and the Channel Islands.
Hamptonne Fair – August – At the heart of Jersey’s rural past, Hamptonne provides the perfect venue for a very unique fair. This 3 day event is a celebration of rural crafts and includes activities from making scarecrows to taking part in farmers’ races or learning traditional games. In addition, there will also be various demonstrations, Punch & Judy shows and ‘all the fun of the fair’.
Battle of Flowers – August –One of the most spectacular carnivals in Europe. Enjoy the spectacle of flower festooned floats, musicians, dancers and entertainers providing a tremendous atmosphere for one of the highlights in our summer events calendar.
Jersey Regatta – September –The Island’s ‘Flagship’ sailing event will welcome visiting yachts from the UK, Channel Islands and France. St Aubin’s Bay is the dedicated sailing area and will offer a full programme of races for dinghies, beach catamarans, sports boats and racer/cruising yachts.
Guernsey Seafood and Drink Festival – Jul 2006 (annual)
Guernsey International Air Rally – Sept (annual) – Guernsey Aero Club organises an international air rally, with flypasts, aero-acrobatics, aircraft displays and much more to entertain the aerial enthusiast.
Liberation Day – May (annual) – Every year on 9 May the people of Guernsey celebrate the island’s liberation after the Second World War.
Eating Dining Shopping
Jersey -Wherever you go, the streets and harbour fronts are alive with over 180 charming restaurants, cafes and hospitable pubs, serving the freshest seafood delivered straight from the sea to your plate.
Jersey oysters are a bit of a delicacy, as the waters around Jersey are clean and pure.
Guernsey – Good food has been one of Guernsey’s attractions for many years and the Island has built up an international reputation for its range of restaurants and cooking styles, which continues to impress visitors and locals alike, whether it be in a simple beach café, a family friendly brasserie, a traditional country pub or a gourmet restaurant.
Guernsey – Shopping in St Peter Port is an unmissable experience. Electronic and photographic equipment, jewelry and perfume are all good, low duty buys, along with wines, spirits and tobacco. Small boutiques offer exclusive clothes, shoes and leather goods, whilst the Old Quarter is the place to find antiques.
Jersey – Electronic equipment and jewelry are generally about 15% cheaper than the rest of Europe.
The Islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933. In 1066 the Duke William the Conqueror invaded and conquered England, becoming the English monarch.
Since 1204, the loss of the rest of the monarch’s lands in mainland Normandy has meant that the Channel Islands have been governed as separate possessions of the Crown.
The Bailiwicks have been administered separately from each other since the late 13th century, and although those unacquainted with the Islands often assume they form one political unit, common institutions are the exception rather than the rule. The two Bailiwicks have no common laws, no common elections, and no common representative body. There is no common newspaper or radio station, but a common television station.
During the Second World War the Islands were the only British soil occupied by Germany.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number 999
Airport Information; (Guernsey) +44 (0)1481 237766(Jersey) +44 (0)153 449 2000
Tourist Office: (Jersey) Tel; 01534 500700 (Guernsey) 723 552
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line