Kate TaylorSee other travel guides written by Kate Taylor
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The beautiful island of Jersey is only nine miles long and five miles wide, so you are never far from a wonderful beach, castle, fortress or pub. Of all the Channel Islands, Jersey is the only one able to accommodate touring caravans – and even then only with a special permit, arranged by the ferry company and the campsites.
You can choose to sail from Poole, Portsmouth or Weymouth to St Helier, Jersey’s port and capital, and if you arrive in daylight, your first glimpse of the island is sure to be a special one.
Jersey is beautiful. It may be 100 miles from the English mainland, but it’s only 14 miles from the west coast of France, and many of the island’s place names are French. Don’t forget, you’re still in England so you’ll be driving on the left, speaking English and you won’t need a passport, unless you fancy a day trip to France while you’re here!
It’s an island of contrasts, from the seaside city sophistication of St Helier, with its continental cuisine, cafés and shopping opportunities, to the remote rural idylls from the north-east to the north-west coast.
You're sure to discover beautiful beaches and hidden coves in every direction during your caravan holidays in Jersey.
The best beaches in Jersey are said to be Grève de Lecq in the north, La Haule, in the western corner of St Aubins Bay, which has a watersports centre; Bonne Nuit Beach and fishing harbour, the pebble beach and cliffs of Bouley Bay, where you can go scuba diving; the two-mile stretch of white sand at Green Island Beach; the golden sands of Grouville Beach; the cliffs and coves of sandy Plemont Beach; bustling St Brelade's Bay, with its surfers and resort; the sandy Beauport Beach, sheltered by cliffs; the town beach and promenade at Havre de Pas Beach; and last but not least, the spectacular five-mile stretch of golden sand at Le Braye, in St Ouen's Bay on the west coast, which is ideal for surfing and has free car parks, a café, ice-cream vans and toilets. Jersey really is the perfect place for family seaside holidays!
For such a small island, there are plenty of places to visit in Jersey. To experience the full dramatic force of the sea's impact on island life, visit Corbière lighthouse, perched on rocks in the rugged south-west corner of Jersey and linked to safe land by a causeway that floods with the tide.
Jersey experiences 30-40ft tides and the island is almost twice as big at low tide as it is when the Atlantic comes rolling in. Keep an eye on Jersey tides and don't get caught out on beaches that flood quickly, such as Plemont Beach or St Ouen's Bay.
Eating out in Jersey is a delight, with the best of both French and English cuisine being available. Pubs and restaurants serve excellent food until around 8.30pm most days and offer fresh local ingredients such as the delicious Jersey Royal potatoes, seafood, Jersey cream and fresh produce. Not all the rural pubs serve food on Sunday evenings, however, so that's a good evening to head for the capital, St Helier, where you'll have a wide choice of hotels, takeaways and restaurants serving evening meals.
One unusual local food to look out for is Jersey Black Butter (Le Niere Buerre), which is a delicious preserve of apples, cider, sugar, liquorice, cinnamon and other spices. It's eaten on scones and bread, or with cold meats and cheese, and is cooked into shortbread-like biscuits.
Visit La Mare Wine Estate to buy an array of local wines, Jersey Apple Brandy, handmade chocolates, fudge, biscuits and Jersey Black Butter preserve.
There are excellent buses on Jersey, ideal for sightseeing when you fancy a break from driving.
There are three main campsites with enough space for touring caravans on Jersey, and when you book your ferry you should choose a campsite at the same time so that they can organise your permit, granting you permission to tow your caravan on this tiny island.
The permit says that towed caravans, including the towing vehicle or motorhome, can be up to 2.3m wide (excluding mirrors and indicators); caravans can be up to 6.7m long (excluding means of attachment to the tow vehicle), and motorhomes up to 9.3m long. The total length of your tow car and caravan (or van and caravan) can be up to 16.5m long.
The ferries limit the size of your tow car and caravan, too. The total outfit must not exceed 13.5m, and the caravan or car must not be longer than 7.5m, with a total weight limit of 3.5 tonnes.
Visiting caravans with permits are restricted to one journey to, and one journey from, the campsite to the port. Caravans must then remain on the designated campsite for the duration of the permit (up to one month). If you have friends with motorhomes, they can drive them around the island's tiny roads each day, but wild camping is not allowed and motorhomes must return to the campsite for the night. Permits must be on display in the caravan or motorhome.
There are only three campsites that can accommodate caravans and motorhomes on Jersey. You can stay at Daisy Cottage Campsite and Retreat in St Ouen, a small, peaceful site, ideal for beach holidays, being near Plemont Bay and the five-mile stretch of white sand, sand dunes and watersports on Jersey's west coast.
Or try the larger Beuvelande Campsite, an excellent family-run campsite that has won AA Five Pennant status and offers lovely facilities, a restaurant, shop, outdoor pool and children's play area. There are 100 touring pitches with electric hook-ups as well as luxurious yurts and Bell tents for hire.
Another excellent campsite is Rozel Camping Park, in the north-east of Jersey, which has been awarded AA Four Pennant status.
If you decide to leave your caravan at home, you can still go camping on Jersey in comfort, because there are glamping holidays, with well-appointed yurts and Bell tents for hire, as well as camping pods.
Top five things to do in Jersey
The Channel Islands were the only parts of Britain to be occupied by German forces during World War II. To find out what life was like for the islanders, the young German soldiers and prisoners of war, visit Jersey War Tunnels. This excellent tourist attraction is based in and around the tunnels built for the Germans, using forced and slave labour. Follow the timeline through the tunnels and this dark period of occupation and starvation comes to life through the imaginative displays, sound and light installations.
Visit Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey and you will be supporting vital conservation work to save endangered species as well as enjoying the sight of some very happy animals living in the countryside four miles north of St Helier in Jersey. If you don't fancy driving, take the shuttle bus from St Helier – it's red, with a picture of a gorilla on it, so you can't miss it!
Visit Jersey Lavender, a farm and visitor centre where you'll find an array of lovely products made from lavender. This is the place to find Lavender Sleep Pillows, lavender plants and seeds, essential oils, soaps, bath and shower products, gifts, pretty bags, beeswax and even food containing lavender!
If you like history, visit spectacular coastal castles, museums and forts during your caravan holidays in Jersey. Buy a Jersey Heritage Pass to save money. Visit Elizabeth Castle overlooking St Aubin's Bay and Mont Orgueil Castle guarding Gorey Harbour. See the Occupation Tapestry Gallery, Maritime Museum and Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, too.
Jersey is an island of wealth and taste and one of the most popular tourist attractions is Jersey Pearl. Follow the west coast's Five Mile Road north, beside the spectacular long sandy beach, until you get to Jersey Pearl. There's a café serving meals all day every day, and 'Pick a Pearl' tanks, where you can select your own oyster and then have the pearl you discover inside set in your own gold or silver pendant!
When to visit Jersey
The first weekend of May marks the Jersey Boat Show in St Helier Marina. If you like boats, don't miss this free event, where you can see more than 60 boats, from super yachts to dinghys. Marine traders will exhibit and you can expect plenty of refreshments and live music.
On 9 May, Liberation Day, Jersey will hold an all-day carnival to celebrate the surrender of the German troops, who had occupied the island for five terrible years during World War II.
During the first weekend in May a host of events will take place as part of the Channel Islands Heritage Festival. German bunkers will be open to the public, along with historic castles and wartime towers.
The second week of May is Jersey's Spring Walking Week, and you can choose guided walks for all levels or a five-day Around Island Walk, following the entire coastline of the island.
The third week of May is the Jersey Food Festival, a showcase of the delicious mixture of British and French cuisine available on Jersey.
In early June it's the Jersey International Motoring Festival, during which there's a motor show and classic and vintage cars and motorbikes compete on the island's steep, winding hill climbs and straight stretches beside long sandy beaches.
Mid-June marks the Folklore Festival in Val de la Mare, Jersey, featuring live music, comedy, theatre, poetry and film.
The end of June and start of July marks the Natwest Island Games XVI Jersey, featuring competitive sports such as football, netball and rugby.
September kicks off with the Jersey Live music festival at the RJA & HS Royal Jersey Showground in Trinity, featuring up to 15 acts.
Also in early September it's the International Air Display, Jersey's huge free annual air show featuring military and civilian planes flying in formation.
How to get to Jersey
Travel to Jersey with Condor Ferries, from Weymouth to St Helier, which takes just four hours. Or choose the Condor Ferries crossing from Poole Harbour to St Helier, a 177-mile crossing. The fast ferry service runs from April to October and takes four-and-a-half hours. The conventional ferry from Poole takes six hours and 25 minutes. The Condor Ferries route from Portsmouth to St Helier takes just over eight hours.
If you're travelling from France to Jersey, choose Condor Ferries' St Malo to St Helier ferry.