There couldn’t be a better time to be travelling from the UK to the Channel Islands especially, Jersey. Brexit-proof, no passports needed (see notes below) and no currency confusion – and with more hours of sunshine than you would expect it’s a convenient, exciting and fun escape for the whole family.
Forget any thoughts you may have had about Jersey being for more mature sightseers – Jersey is a hub of cool family friendly restaurants, exciting days-out and activities for even the fussiest of mini travellers. From the bustling capital of St. Helier to the 12 very different parishes (areas) that make up this fascinating island – it’s said that wherever you are in Jersey you are never more than 10 minutes from the sea.
Jersey is the bigger out of the British Isles, known for its rich history, unforgettable sights and an island – that is just 5 miles long and 9 miles wide – you can drive all the way round in under 3 hours. Sitting in the Bay of St Malo – Jersey is just 14 miles from the French coast and 85 miles south of the English coast.
Here is our guide on what to see, do, eat and more in Jersey with children:
There is one airpot on the island of Jersey in the parish of St. Peter. But, we highly recommend getting the ferry. It’s stress-free, easy and children love it – and, it sure adds to the journey being part of the adventure. Whether you decide to go on as a foot passenger or take your car, which is the ideal option for families as you can pack without restrictions and are free to explore the island at your own pace.
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. The journey take 4 and half hours which goes surprising quickly with all the amenities available on-board – including a bar & restaurant, a children’s play area & TV area and a duty-free shop. With airline style seating on-board – you can also upgrade to the Horizon Lounge (great for families and with brilliant panoramic sea views) or, the executive Club Class long (ideal for adults only.)
GOOD TO KNOW: If you are going by car, you need to check-in an hour before your departure time. Everyone needs some photographic ID to board (this can be a passport, valid driving licence -full or provisional are accepted and, even a NHS Smart card)
> To book Condor Ferries, check current prices and sailing times, visit Condor Ferries or, call 0345 609 1024
WHERE TO STAY
There is a wealth of luxury and elegant hotels on the island but, the best one for families is the 3* Merton Hotel. Part of the Seymour Hotel group – founded in 1920 – it’s one of the largest and longest family-run chains in Jersey – and, one of the top rated family hotels in Jerey to boot. The hotel feels more like a mini-resort with its on-site buffet restaurant The Belvedere, Italian bistro Bonetti’s (with a takeaway menu for room service), Jersy Joe’s (a cool diner serving snacks and drinks) and a lobby bar & lounge. The Merton Hotel also offers activities and entertainment for tots (Georgie’s Créche), kids & tweens (the Kids Zone for 4 -11 year olds) and teens ( XST).
What’s especially appealing about the Meron is its central location, in the capital St. Helier, the nearby on-site parking and the biggest draw for families is undoubtedly the indoor and outdoor pool, The Aquadome. A subtropical paradise, the Aquadome is the Merton Hotel’s exclusive pool and leisure club with slides, lazy river, fountains, spa pools, sauna and steam room and a heated outside pool and the Flowrider surf machine. There is also a children’s play area in the gardens surrounding the Aquadome.
> With over 280 rooms and self-catering suites available you will be hard pressed to find a more perfect family hotel in Jersey. To book and for the latest offers visit Seymour Hotels
Merton Hotel, Jersey
Merton Hotel, Jersey
The Aquadome at Merton Hotel, Jersey
CULTURE FOR ALL: WHAT TO SEE
Although Jersey is a small island there is still plenty to see – and, everything is so easily accessible. Here is our top 10 family-friendly things not to miss:
Five Mile Road – Head west and take a leisurely drive down the five-mile road which spans the length of St.Ouen’s Bay (not surprisedly a 5-mile stretch of golden sands). Great views, a surfers mecca and you’ll find some of the best beach cafe pit-stops amongst the dunes.
- Corbiére Lighthouse – Walk along the old railway track from St. Aubin which leads you to the dramatic vista of La Corbiére Lighthouse – the oldest concrete lighthouse in Europe. Approximately a 3 and a half mile walk and, at low-tide you can walk across the causeway.
Elizabeth Castle – Take the amphibious Castle Ferry (or, again at low tide you can walk the causeway) to reach Elizabeth Castle in St. Aubins Bay. Dating back to the 16th century there is often live demosatrtaions and gunfire you can easily lose yourself in a day of history here.
Liberation Square – Be sure the visit this central square in St. Helier where you can see the Philip Jackson sculpture depicting the liberation of the islanders after five years of German occupation during World War II.
Catherine Best Windmill – Visit jeweller Catherine Best’s working Windmill workshop and shop in St. Peter. Also, a great spot for some al-fresco dining.
The Glass Church – St. Matthew’s Church in St. Aubin is more commonly known as the Glass Church and features running glasswork by the famous French designer René Lalique. A must-see as no similar Lalique commission exists anywhere else in the world.
Jersey Pearl – Along the Five Mile Road is the infamous Jersey Pearl’s flagship store. Buying directly from pearl farmers here you can shop an extensive jewellery range, take a pearl tour (a free tour learning how they are created and cultured), grab a bite to eat or afternoon tea in the Jersey Pearl cafe and see a replica of Diana, Princess of Wales Catherine walker pearl encrusted outfit up close.
Samarés Manor – Dating in part to Norman times Samarés manor is one of Europe’s most outstanding privately owned gardens. With 14 acres of beautifully lush grounds originally designed and constructed in the 1920’s. Kids will enjoy the play area, willow labyrinth and jungle path.
Maritime Museum – Discover Jersey maritime past into this family-friendly interactive museum in St. Helier where you can see, touch, hear and even smell exhibits.
FAMILY FUN: WHAT TO DO
Jersey is the ideal destination for a quick getaway – but, when you have a little more time these days-out will be a massive hit with the kids – young and old.
aMaizin! Adventure Park – Jersey’s largest farm park is home to animals, indoor play, a summer maze, bouncy castles, rides, mini-go karts, crazy golf, tractor rides and more. The perfect place for some all-weather situations fun – and for just one inclusive entry price (with no hidden extras). An amazing day out for children aged 3+. Offering ample parking too and a surprisingly good on-site cafe.
> Entry is priced from £8.50 for toddlers, £11.50 for children and adults (under 2’s go free)
Jersey Zoo – Jersey Zoo is home to over 1,000 wild animals (and over 132 species from the tiniest fruit bat to the huge infamous gorillas), the Wild Wood children’s indoor play park, the Dodo cafe & park, a gorgeous gift shop and some of the most beautiful garden you will ever see at a private zoo. Founded in 1959 by the famous writer and conservationist Gerald Durrell (his memoirs are the basis of The Durrell’s TV series on BBC) who died in 1995. His dedication to saving species from extinction still continues today – with every visitors entry fee going directly back into the charity. Don’t miss the Gerald Durrell exhibition – a story of his life and legacy with personal memorabilia, photographs and even his This is your Life red book.
> Admission is priced from £12 and is open all year round.
Le Petit Train – Younger children will delight at The Petit Train which offers a cute, little tour and a 35 minute journey between St. Helier and St. Aubin – Jersey’s historic harbour. Each of the two little trains can accommodate up to 60 people and run at regular, frequent times 7 days a week. You can board the train at Liberation Square in St Helier, St Aubin Harbour or West Park.
> Single child fare £2.50/adult £5 and return fare child £3.50/adult £8.50
Les Mielles Golf and Country Club – As well as an impressive 18-hole golf course, this complex has a brilliant crazy golf, mini-golf, laser clay pigeon shooting, bungee trampoline and the slide – a 21ft inflatable slide with two lanes.
>> Priced from £6 and Open 10am daily from April – September. Check online for how to book.
The Valley Adventure Centre – Set in secluded countryside The Valley offers a range of actives for all the family including paintball, zippier, ariel trekking and orienteering.
>> Pre-booking is essential and its open all year round. See online for packages and prices from £6 per person.
FOODIES DELIGHT: WHERE TO EAT
Fresh fish, sea views, snack bars, first-class restaurants and everything in-between the jersey food scene has something for everyone. Here we have just rounded-up our favourite family eateries that should appeal to all ages.
Seafish Cafe – Jersey’s very own premium fish and chip shop – selling slightly more variety than your average chippy (fish tacos, curry’s and burgers). Small plates are great for kids.
El Tico Beach Cantina – Freshly cooked, seasonal and casual dining for all the family overlooking St. Ouens Bay – there is a cool on-site surf hire hut and shop too. Perfect for lazy breakfasts and lunches.
Jersey Crab Shack – With one in St. Helier and the original one overlooking St. Brelade’s Bay – this beachside inspired eatery gets a massive thumbs up from us. Great crab (of course), fish tacos, mules and more. The perfect family restaurant – and the one on the bay means kids can run free on the beach between courses – so you can enjoy the views.
Pizza Quater/ The Kiosk – More of a takeaway and delivery option as the informal pizzas, ‘fish & chip box’ and freshly made drinks are the perfect way to soak up the last rays of sunshine on the sea wall or beach before heading back to your hotel.
The Hungry Man – This jolly and colourful beach hut has been serving up the best bacon butties, sandwiches, hot chocolates and homemade cakes since 1947. Grab one of the alfresco benches seats and enjoy the view of Rozel Bay.
Portelet Bay Beach Café – As the name suggests this unique family-run restaurant is right on the beach, so be prepared for lots of steps down to get there but with amazing views, wood fired pizzas and a great wine list it will be worth the walk. Check opening times as closes early.
Pizza Express – OK, we know we are suggesting a firm family favourite here – but, whats special about the Jersey Pizza Express in St Brelade’s Bay is the al fresco dining and probably one of the best ever views of any Pizza Express ever. Spend the day on the beach and hit here for food we know everyone loves (and eats).
Breakwater Cafe – Overlooking the bay and the St. Catherine breakwater this indoor/outdoor cafe is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, a coffee and the best jersey ice-cream.
JB’s Ping Pong – Burgers, pizza’s, whole beer-can chicken – and Ping Pong. What more could you want? Play ping pong before or after dinner, catch live sports and music – children welcome until 9pm.
Oyster Box – Bright and airy with sweeping bay views though floor to ceiling windows this sleek, but relaxed restaurant offers up sophistased seafood dishes, Jersy grown fruit and vegetables and of course, oysters.
>> Read here for the lowdown on our guide to Jersey’s Best Beaches