Lush botanical gardens, alluring hidden coves, and glorious sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean give the Channel Island of Guernsey an unlikely subtropical feel. Sitting just 45km (28 miles) from the shore of Normandy in France, this little isle also has a Gallic air with its French street names and culinary flair. Listen carefully and you may even hear the ancient local dialect of Dgèrnésiais (Norman patois) being spoken.
Only 78 sq km (30 sq miles) in size, Guernsey yet harbours a strong local identity. Keen-eyed observers will spot little differences, like blue post boxes and the use of numerical car licences. On Liberation Day, when the island celebrates the end of the German occupation during World War II, all of the towns and houses across the island are decked out in flags and bunting.
British families have been drawn to Guernsey for generations – it certainly is the quintessential holiday destination, where kids can roam free while parents relax with a book on the beach. The pace of life is certainly more relaxed than mainland Britain, so visitors can take their time, wander the coastline, enjoy a round of golf and stroll the streets of the island's pretty capital, St Peter Port.
The beaches are among the British Isles' finest, with L’Ancresse Bay to the north proving a popular option. Meanwhile, the southern coast’s rocky coastline is perfect for nature-loving kayakers who can gaze back at the cliffs lined with birds during the summer, or even get up onto the rocks for a spot of canyoning. Head west to Cobo Bay and Vazon Bay to join scores of kitesurfers and windsurfers testing their mettle out to sea.
Landmarks to look out for on Guernsey include the Little Chapel and Castle Cornet, while a little patch of France comes in the form of Victor Hugo’s house. With daily ferries to the nearby islands of Herm, Sark and Jersey are popular, Guernsey also makes a great base from which to explore the other Channel Islands.