This half term we were treated to a family holiday to Jersey curtesy of Condor Ferries. Jersey has been one of those destinations I have always been keen to go to but have never been, so when we were asked if we wanted to take the Ferry over for a two night stay on the island during the October half term, we jumped at the opportunity!
We woke the boys up at 5.30am on Monday and loaded them half asleep filled with holiday excitement into the car to begin our drive down to Poole to catch our morning ferry. Despite it being so early, the boys were adamant they weren’t going to go back to sleep! We arrived at the ferry port as the sun was rising, with plenty of time before needing to board. A couple of cups of tea and bacon sandwiches from the port cafe sorted us right out after two and a half hours in the car, with the kids asking if we were nearly there yet.
Driving onto the ferry and making our way up to deck was an adventure in itself, or at least as far as the boy’s are concerned! Harry took it upon himself to locate our ‘reclining seats’ we had been allocated in the ‘Ocean Plus’ lounge. Then after about 5 minutes of Tye, myself and Harry trying to get our heads around the seat numbers in the thousands (maths isn’t our strong point hahaha), lo and behold the 4 seats bang at the front of the ferry were ours- BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE 😉 In order to get into the Ocean Plus lounge, you had to type in a 4 digit code at the door, so in true Harry style, he needed to ‘go to the toilet’ once in a while so he could independently type the code in… James Bond style!
The sun was up and the weather was absolutely perfect for sailing across the channel. We were seated, laptop plugged in, boat departing from the dock and all round a family of happy chappies. That was until about 40mins into our 4 hour journey when I suddenly remembered my issues with sea sickness!!! A slight minor issue I had overseen, because our usual ferry crossing from Dover to Calais for our summers in France, is so short that by the time I begin to feel sick, we’re pretty much docking! Discovering I felt best when I wasn’t walking around the boat, and plotted on a seat a few rows back away from the amazing views, made all the difference. Having a cooked breakfast and cup of tea on board actually helped too. Stanley and Harry were thrilled with their sausages and scrambled eggs- this was certainly a breakfast with a view like no other!
Half an hour before arriving at Jersey, we stopped off to let passengers alight at Guernsey. Another island we’ve yet to travel to and yet heard so many wonderful things about (..next time!). When we pulled into the dock at St Helier in Jersey, we loaded into our car and made our way to The Mayfair Hotel in St Helier, only a 5 minute drive from the port.
We were welcomed and shown to our suite, to find a two double bedroom, two bathroom family room, perfectly more than adequate for our stay! Harry and Stan were thrilled they had their own space, with hot chocolate facilities and their own TV. We of course were just as thrilled to have our OWN space and large walk in shower! On our bed was a Visit Jersey welcome pack curtesy of the hotel, containing some tourist information, x4 Jersey passes for complimentary entry into attractions and caps and sunglasses for the boys.
It had been a long day of traveling but spirits were still high and Tye had already pre-booked our evening meal, so we had a couple of hours to relax, unwind and get ready to head back out for supper. As we were staying in town, and roughly knew were the restaurant was, we decided to go for a walk and see what was around. The pretty high street was literally on our doorstep, lined with fairy lights and conveniently in the direction of the nearest beach! Discovering the beach was the highlight of our long day. The boys were quick to run off in different directions and once again be at one with the sea air, sand and open space they crave so often. They really are at their happiest when they are on a beach- wherever they are in the world. We could only really spare about 45mins before making our way to The Quayside restaurant opposite the marina for supper. Give us a menu full of fresh fish and we are in our element. Luckily for us, the boys also love fish, so we went all out and indulged. We can highly recommend eating here, the food was utterly delicious!
The following morning we woke up and discussed over our hotel breakfast what our Itinerary was for the day. Having been given some great suggestions from friends ahead of our trip, the agenda was to visit the Jersey War Tunnels and check out the beach at St Ouens. The Jersey War Tunnels is 100% worth a visit. They are beyond fascinating, incredibly enlightening and moving. Tye and I felt pretty emotional walking around them and reading all about the German occupancy during WW2, when Hitler was in power. You are educated about what life was like during those years on the island, and read first hand accounts from those living there during the War and experiencing such harrowing times. Stanley was too little to understand of course, but Harry was the perfect age to TRY to understand, although it was a lot of information to absorb. Even now, sitting here typing this, I continue to think about it, and want to know more.
We heard that the beach at St Ouen’s Bay is GREAT for surfing, so we took a chance by bringing over Harry’s surfboard with us in the car! Unfortunately there was no surf that day, but it didn’t matter, because the boys didn’t need anything other that their spades to dig holes in the soft white sand while Tye and I admired the stretch of the beach in all its beauty. Just set back among the dunes, is Le Braye: a perfectly situated beachside eatery, serving up yummy fish and chips, fresh homemade cakes and all with a great sea view. I had a tasty crab sandwich for lunch which def hit the spot!
Another beautiful beach we had heard great things about was Beauport Bay, an unspoilt cove in St Aubin, a short drive from St Ouen’s Bay and we were desperate to check it out. It certainly didn’t disappoint. From the minute we parked in the car park and looked over the edge of the cliff at the view, we knew instantly the walk down the many steps onto the beach would be worth it. Bearing in mind this is October and the view took our breath away, I can only imagine what a hot summers day would do to the senses! Arriving onto the bay having mastered the steep walk down was a real treat. Yet again, another beautifully sandy beach, with only one other family there…Stanley running in one direction and Harry heading straight out to the rocks in the sea for climbing. Such true beauty, a beach we will definitely want to visit on our net visit. The photos almost don’t do it justice!
Back at the hotel, we tried out the indoor swimming pool which was fab, then returned to our room to get ready for our final night in Jersey. Our evening meal on our second night was at El Tico– a highly popular beach cantina with a vibrant and fun atmosphere. It also apparently has stunning views of St Ouen’s Bay, but as we went in the dark, we didn’t get to experience them. Harry ate the largest plate of bbq ribs and rice, while Tye and I both chose curries.
Wednesday morning came all too soon, as the last day always does when you’re having fun on your holidays! Following a hearty breakfast in the hotel, we packed up the car and headed straight out to Jersey Zoo. Founded and created in 1959 by Gerald Durrell, bound by his passion for saving threatened animals for extinction. This Zoo experience is like no other. Tye and I both agreed that hands down it is the most beautiful Zoo, with its pretty landscaped gardens, winding paths and willow trees, happy animals BIG and SMALL and exciting family of Gorillas which are a MUST SEE! We were blessed with the sunniest and warmest October weather and luckily set aside the whole day to explore all that the Durell Zoo has to offer. If you plan a visit, don’t expect to rush around in an hour or so. It’s a visit that you should dedicate a few hours to, and do at your leisure because it doesn’t disappoint in any way whatsoever.
We boarded our Condor Ferry home, just as the sun was setting and as we sat back in our reclining seats overlooking the horizon, we reflected over the jam-packed couple of days we had on the magical island of Jersey. Our feet barely touched the ground as we explored and discovered some popular places of interest. Our 2 night’s stay was a wonderful insight into a new destination, not too far from home and yet a lot closer to France than I had first anticipated! Travelling with Condor Ferries was an adventure and added a new dimension to our holiday experience, one that has provided us with new family memories and firm in the knowledge of being certain to visit Jersey again in the near future.
Condor Ferries operates a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its fast ferry Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth. To book and check current prices, visit condorferries.com or call 0345 609 1024.
by Laura xx
To take a further look, I’ve added links below;