Staycations in the Channel Islands
The term may sound new to many people, but it is not. It became popular in 2008 as a result of the financial crisis, especially in the United Kingdom with the devaluation of the British Pound and when the possibility of traveling abroad became a privilege for a few.
We refer to Staycations, a word made up from stay and vacations, which refers to the possibility of using the vacation period to stay at home and enjoy the recreational, sports, cultural and other activities that it offers us.
As a result of the pandemic generated by COVID-19, and with the proliferation of teleworking as an option to carry out our work activities, the need to stay at or near home to entertain ourselves and spend our leisure time also arose.
This is how we saw that there were those who chose to move away from the big cities, to quieter populations, but there were also those who decided to remain in the big metropolises.
In both cases, people chose to use their free time or vacation to go exploring and discover activities that perhaps were always present, but that few were aware of. I am a big fan of staycations and I do one every couple of months. This gave the opportunity for new businesses and ventures to emerge that aimed to attract these local tourists.
Advantages of Staycations
Think about it! Every time you decide to leave home to go on vacation, there is a whole logistics that begins with choosing the destination to which you are going to travel.
Then comes the budget, book the hotel, buy the tickets, prepare your luggage, leave everything ready at home for the days you will be out, move to the airport or train station. Anyway, quite a ruckus!
After all of the above, the first advantage that we can highlight about staycations is the economic savings of not having to leave your city. It is simply planning the activities that you will do during the day, leaving the house with what you are wearing, having fun and returning to your bed at the end of the day to surely repeat the activity or something similar the next day or simply stay at home enjoying a good movie, a good book, inviting friends or family over for a barbecue or doing nothing. Everything is valid!
With the mobility restrictions to which we have been subjected by the COVID-19 pandemic, travel by plane, train or bus has also suffered restrictions, so not having to use these means of transportation is also an advantage for the environment, as sustainability is promoted.
A third advantage is that the local economy also benefits from Staycations. Hotels, restaurants, bars, museums, parks and other businesses are reactivated by having more activities, thanks to the presence of the local population.
According to Conocedores.com, a Latin American travel magazine, by 2018 it was expected that 74% of Britons would stay in their cities to do Staycations, a much higher number than in 2017, when only 54 % planned to do so.
As expected, and in the wake of COVID-19, the number has increased significantly for this year. According to holidaycottages.co.uk, 4 in 5 Brits (84%) are planning a 2021 staycation. So, apparently, it is a trend that will increase every year in the face of the new reality to which we have been forced by the pandemic.
The Channel Islands
Before we continue talking about Staycations, let’s travel to the English Channel, specifically west of the French Cotentin peninsula in Normandy. There we find The Channel Islands, a group of islands divided into two bailiwicks (Jersey and Guernsey), which are not part of the United Kingdom, but ‘depend’ on the British Crown.
The Bailiwick of Jersey is made up of the island of Jersey, the largest (118 km2) only inhabited in the group (107,800), and the islands of The Minquiers, Les Dirouilles and Les Pierres de Lecq.
On the other hand, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is made up of the inhabited islands of Guernsey (63,026) (65 km2), Alderney (2,039) (8 km2), Sark (600) (5.45 km2), Herm (60) (2 km2), Jethou (3) (0.2 km2) and Brecqhou (0.3 km2). It is also made up of the uninhabited islands of Burhou, Casquets, Ortac, Renonquet, Caquorobert, Crevichon, Grande Amfroque, Les Houmets and Lihou.
Politically speaking, as we already mentioned, The Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, but ‘depend’ on the British Crown. They have been part of the Duchy of Normandy since the 10th century, with Queen Elizabeth II being the “Duchess of Normandy”, which is not really a title but is granted so that it is understood that they depend, as we have already said, on the British Crown.
Neither of the two Bailiwicks has representation in the British Parliament, but each has its own Parliament. They are not part of the European Union either.
Things to do in Jersey
The island of Jersey is the largest and only inhabited of the Bailiwick of Jersey, therefore, it is the one that offers the best activities for those who decide to take staycations. Here are some of the best alternatives for you to enjoy in this town.
1. A day at the beach in the Bay of Saint Brelade
When making a choice of the best beaches in the area, the Bay of Saint Brelade always stands out among the first for its beauty, its golden sands, its cleanliness and its facilities on the seafront.
It is located south of the Jersey shore and the fact of being protected from the impact of the waves and having a low slope of the seabed, makes it ideal to take the little ones so they can also enjoy.
2. Mont Orgueil Castle
Located on the east coast of Jersey, this 13th century castle offers stunning views of the island. It is a medieval construction full of stairs, so we recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes to go up and down.
3. Plemont Bay
Located on the northwest coast of Jersey, this hidden beach is ideal for surfers and couples, thanks to its waves that crash on the sand and its high cliffs around it.
When the tide is low, it is ideal for those who like to lie on the sand, but when it is high, it is best to rent a kayak and explore the caves that are found along the bay. You can also explore the ruins of the Grosnez Castle, located west of the beach.
4. Le Petit Train
This miniature train is ideal for the whole family, especially the little ones in the house. In it you will be able to travel between Saint Helier and Saint Aubin along the Saint Aubin bay and listen to the most interesting comments of the outstanding places that are in the route.
Children under 5 years old can travel for free.
5. Port of La Rocque
Located at the southeastern tip of Jersey, the Port of La Rocque is a bay that links Saint Helier with Gorey. It is a small jetty, a sandy beach and lots of rocks that form natural pools with lots of crabs.
6. Jersey oysters
One of Jersey’s favorite dishes, thanks to the island’s swell, is oysters. You will find them not only in restaurants, but also in some stalls where you can buy them for half a dozen.
7. War tunnels and underground hospital
Jersey was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, so it has a network of tunnels built by the invaders. It is an experience to relive history and learn what life was like for the locals during the German invasion.
Then, in the Garden of Reflection, you can calmly meditate and think about everything that you live in this interesting visit to the past.
8. Shopping without VAT in Saint Helier
Saint Helier is the capital of the island of Jersey and is ideal for those who want to buy cheaper, since it is exempt from VAT. We recommend you visit Liberty Wharf, a shopping center with recognized brands or the Voisins department store, with the most luxurious brands. In the central market of Saint Helier you can buy the freshest products.
9. Hiking along the cliffs of the north coast
If you like hiking, you cannot miss this tour that starts from Trinity and will allow you to discover the bays of Boule, Bonne Nuit and Saint John. You can also see Devil’s Hole, a collapsed cave that seems to hiss when the waves hit the rocks, near Sorel Point.
10. Elizabeth Castle
Elizabeth Castle is located in Saint Helier and is accessible on foot, at low tide, and by ferry in just 15 minutes.
Inside you’ll find the Museum of the Jersey Royal Militia Regiment, where there are centuries-old memorabilia and very interesting exhibits.
Things to do in Guernsey
The island of Guernsey is the most inhabited of those that make up the Bailiwick of Guernsey and has a number of tourist and historical attractions ideal for those who decide to stay there.
1. Victoria Tower
One of the most iconic tourist sites on the island of Guernsey is the Victoria Tower, erected in 1846 in honor of the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
A granite plaque was placed where the queen first set foot on it in Saint Peter Port, Guernsey.
For those who have managed to climb to the top, the views of the island are fantastic.
2. Castle Cornet
With more than 800 years of history, Castle Cornet has become a museum that houses other museums of great interest to visitors. The first of them is the museum of the history of the castle itself.
The second is the Maritime Museum. The third is the 201 Squadron RAF Museum. The fourth is the Royal Guernsey Militia Museum – including artifacts from the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry.
3. Priaulx Library
If you want to know more about the history of Guernsey or even if you have ancestors on this island, you cannot miss the Priaulx Library, my favourite place. It is a library that houses an extensive photographic collection of the island, the finest collection of local newspapers in the Channel Islands, and books and documents on Guernsey’s language, history, and culture. Entry is free and visitor parking is available.
4. Grandes Rocques Beach
Located in the northwest of the island of Guernsey, Grandes Rocques Beach is an ideal place to relax, sunbathe, take a beach swim or have fun playing on its white sands. As if that were not enough, it is an ideal place to see the sunset over the Atlantic.
On the opposite side of the beach is the town of Grandes Rocques, which has cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs along Rue de la Saline.
The best of all? You can take your dog on the walk, since its entrance is allowed.
5. Candie Gardens
These gardens were established in 1894 and are an excellent option for those who want to enjoy a panoramic view from St. Peter Port to the neighboring islands.
In addition, its greatest attractions are represented by flowers and plants from different parts of the world, a statue of Queen Victoria and a statue erected in honor of the writer Victor Hugo.
The gardens are open from sunrise to sunset, admission is free and for those who wish to have a coffee, soft drink or an aperitif, they can do so at Café Victoria.
Other tourist alternatives are the Beaucette Marina, the Guernsey Diamond Museum, the Jerbourg Point, the German Naval Signals HQ, the Vale Castle, the Rocquette Cider brewery, La Vallette Underground Military Museum, Shell Beach, The Guernsey Tapestry, the German Occupation Museum, Les Caches Farm and the German Underground Hospital, among others.
Staycations are an excellent alternative for those who want to know more about the environment where they live in. They represent an economical, fun, sustainable option and even an opportunity to support the local economy.
If you live in the Channel Islands, don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about this town full of history, culture and natural landscapes that you can enjoy alone or in the company of your family.
Explore the Channel Islands further! Read the following article: Hiking Through The Channel Islands During Winter