Lush botanical gardens, alluring hidden coves, and glorious sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean give the Channel Island of Guernsey a distinctly subtropical feel. Sitting just 45km (28 miles) from the shore of Normandy in France, this little isle also has a Gallic air, with French street names, exquisite culinary flare and the ease with which many people speak both English and French giving the island a romantic quality. Listen carefully and you may even hear the ancient local dialect of Dgèrnésiais (Norman patois) being spoken.
The small island, with an area of only 78 sq km (30 sq miles), may, on the face of it, appear to be an extension of the British Isles, but Guernsey is fiercely independent, as are the rest of the Channel Islands. Keen-eyed observers will spot little differences, like blue post boxes and the use of numerical car licences, which all serve to reinforce the fact that the island has its own identity. That identity is fiercely guarded and most obvious around Liberation Day, when the island celebrates the end of the German occupation during WWII, and all of the towns and houses across the island are decked out in flags and bunting.
Families have been drawn to Guernsey for generations and 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 some of the highest quality you’ll find in the British Isles, with L’Ancresse Bay to the north proving a particularly popular option. Still, those who want an altogether more invigorating experience can find it here. 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. There are plenty of quirky details on Guernsey to keep visitors exploring. The Little Chapel and Castle Cornet are unique gems, whilst a little patch of France comes in the form of Victor Hugo’s house (owned by the city of Paris), which draws visitors from all over the world.
Day trips to neighbouring islands Herm, Sark and Jersey are popular, with daily ferries to each, and Guernsey makes a great base from which to explore the Channel Islands in depth.