Back in November 2019, we were the lucky winners of Silver Travel Advisor’s prize of two nights in Guernsey as guests of Visit Guernsey. Arrangements were made for April 2020 – then Covid struck and all plans were out of the window! Subsequently we rearranged for July 2020, April 2021 and finally we made it in July 2021 – thanks to Emily Queripel at Visit Guernsey who made (and remade) all the arrangements. Travelling on Condor Ferries service from Poole to Guernsey on a smooth, fast, safe journey aboard the Condor Liberation, we arrived in St. Peter Port and transferred to the very comfortable St. Pierre Park Hotel for two nights.
As Guernsey has been very stringent about travel during the pandemic, the island has been enjoying higher levels of freedom compared to the rest of the UK. From 1st July, fully vaccinated visitors from the Common Travel Area were allowed to travel to the island, and right from the start we noticed how the lack of requirements for face-masks, social distancing, queueing and one-way systems made everything just seem so NORMAL again. We finally felt free!!
We were keen to make the most of our two full days in Guernsey, so on the evening of arrival, we drove across to the west side of the island to Cobo Beach, a large, beautiful sandy beach, with a very good fish & chip shop. So good in fact, the queue was around the corner as everyone else had the same idea to enjoy some fish and chips while enjoying the spectacular sunset! We then took a detour around the top of the island to enjoy some more gorgeous views on our way back to the hotel, and a very comfortable first night’s sleep at the St. Pierre Park.
Day two, and after an excellent breakfast, we walked approx. 25 minutes into Town (as the locals call St. Peter Port), to collect tickets for the 20-minute ferry to Herm Island (www.traveltrident.com). During busy periods, I’d advise collecting tickets about 30 minutes before the ferry leaves. After a short, smooth sailing, we arrived at the tiny port, and walked about 15 minutes across the island to Shell Beach, where we spent a couple of hours of beach time, including a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. There’s a kiosk on the beach that sells refreshments, or you can walk back to the small port where there is a hotel with restaurant, bistro and outdoor tavern (The Mermaid). We opted for a tasty prawn and salmon sandwich at the Mermaid. At busy times, before ordering your food, ask how long it will take, to decide if you have sufficient time before your departing ferry!
Back in St. Peter Port, we walked around the centre, and back via Candie Gardens which are very pretty and have great views across to Herm, with statues of Queen Victoria, and the writer Victor Hugo, who lived here for part of his life. We paused for a cream tea at Café Victoria in the Gardens, and then stopped in for a look at Victoria Tower on our way back (you can climb to the top of the tower, ask for the key at the visitor centre next to the café).
Our evening dinner was arranged at Balthazar, on the waterfront. They specialise in seafood and steaks, and it’s a very popular spot with locals. And there’s a special feature in the ladies’ powder room – try pressing the big red BoogieButton for an impromptu disco while you’re fixing your lipstick!
On our final day, the ferry back to Poole was at 6pm so we had the best part of a day to fill. After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we drove to The Little Chapel, (https://www.visitguernsey.com/see-and-do/things-to-do/the-little-chapel/), a tiny chapel built in the 1920’s and decorated with shells and pottery chips. It is absolutely beautiful and so worth a visit!
From here we drove along the winding country lanes to Moulin Huet, and walked down to the tearoom. At this point, you can walk in either direction along some great coastal paths with fantastic views to Moulin Huet Bay, which provided inspiration for the painter Renoir during his stay here in the 1800’s – there are several ‘frames’ along the way giving information on the paintings. After a walk to Saints Bay, we retraced our steps to the car, and headed back towards St. Peter Port, with a stop on the way at Fermain Bay. Here there’s another tearoom which serves great crab sandwiches – we shared one for lunch while looking out at the sea views from our table. You can walk to the tearoom from St. Peter Port near the aquarium, about 2.5 miles each way, if you want to work up an appetite! If you don’t want to drive (some of the roads are twisty, narrow and require a steely nerve), then good transport options would be by bicycle, or the excellent bus services that operate from St. Peter.
As our departure time was fast approaching, we made our way back to the ferry port, and one last walk along the seafront with an ice-cream, before departing on Condor Ferries Liberation back to Poole. We packed in so much in our two days but there are still many places to see and visit in Guernsey that no doubt we’ll be back again one day to this lovely, relaxing and friendly island.