Travel Gems: The Jewel of the Channel Islands

The first holiday of the summer is always the most exciting and the most anticipated; after long weeks stuck in stuffy classrooms gazing out the window at the glorious sunshine, daydreaming about tan lines and ice-creams, our family summer holiday to the Channel Islands was always on my mind from the first glimpse of spring sunshine.

As I became older, this safe haven away from the real world became even more precious after the stress of sitting various GCSEs and A-levels. Despite going to the same place for over 20 years and the limited amount of activities available, for me, Herm Island has never lost its magic.​

Hidden in plain sight, Herm Island is the jewel of the Channel Islands and Britain’s best kept secret – at least, in my opinion. A 20 minute boat ride from Guernsey, its much more well-known sister island, Herm is a tiny piece of paradise. From the moment you step off the boat onto the gravel paths and feel the sun on your skin, a complete feeling of relaxation washes over you. With the pristine beaches and glistening blue sea, this island could be in the Mediterranean – the 'Herm burn' phenomenon certainly makes it feel like it is!

The island is home to a handful of residents who live there all year round, many of whom work in the hotel, shops or restaurants during tourist season. For such a tiny island it can certainly fit a lot of people, and during peak summer season the beaches can become quite crowded.

My family and I have always been in the first week of the summer holidays when some schools have not yet broken up and the island is still a perfect, peaceful retreat. It is the best place I can think of in the world to recharge and relax, escaping from the real world in this little corner of paradise.

Our routine is always the same; tennis in the morning followed by a wander around the little shops and maybe a coffee. We then walk back up the hill to our apartment to make lunch and take it down to the beach, where we spend the afternoon dozing, reading, swimming, and getting slightly burnt. In the evening, when the sun is still shining but the air has cooled slightly, it is perfect for a run around the island.

On a clear day, you can see the 4 other islands surrounding Guernsey and Herm, and even a large proportion of the French coast. We stay in to cook, maybe a barbecue, or we wander back down the hill to eat in one of the restaurants – all of which offer a great range of food (vegan too!) and some delicious Pimms. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine or the relaxed atmosphere, but that Pimms gets me after one glass…every time!

Herm Island holds for me many special memories, having visited every single year since I was 2, and there are a few special places on the island that I love to go to;

In a corner of the ‘village’ at the top of the island there is a little church, nestled into the brick and stone. It has the quaintest little garden where I have been fortunate enough to ring the bell for the Sunday services when I was younger. Whenever we visit, the garden is in full bloom, with gorgeous purple and yellow flower bursting from the walls and crowding the brick archway. It is truly one of the most adorable churches I know.

Belvoir Bay is without doubt the best beach on the island, although if anyone were to ask I would direct them to Shell beach because the beauty of Belvoir is that it is never overcrowded. The sand is soft and warm, and the steep cliffs surrounding the Bay mean that it is nearly always protected from the wind. The sea is delightfully blue and quite warm on a sunny day – you wouldn’t know you were still in Britain! Even on an overcast and stormy day, Belvoir is my favorite place to be, huddled up behind the big rock and staring out to the horizon.

Finally, there is a point along the cliff path where, if you are running along it at around 6pm, you round the corner to encounter a glistening sea as the setting sun casts it rays over it. The sky above you is a perfect blue, and the sea stretches forth in radiant shimmers of sunlight. Without fail, every single time I run along that path I stop to take in the view. The sunsets on the island are also completely stunning as a rule. 

Herm Island is without doubt one of the most precious places I know, and I intend to visit it every single year for the rest of my life. If you happen to be in the Channel Islands, I strongly recommend visiting Herm, even if it’s just for the day. Just don’t forget your suncream! Oh, and don’t tell anyone else...!