First off, it is actually called ‘The Bailiwick of Guernsey.’ If you want to impress someone at the pub, you need to tell them that you’re going for a surf trip to ‘The Bailiwick’ and leave them hanging. Most surfers think that they know all the locations of surf spots in the world. From Eileen’s to Ours, from The Snake to the Donkey, but tell them you’re going on a mission to the Bailiwick, and you’ll have them confounded. For more ammo, Guernsey also includes the islands of Alderney, Sark, Herm, Brecqhou and Jethou.
Surfing in Guernsey
If you happen to be there in the summer, it is a stunning island. However, you are scoring if you get it during summer and with some swell. Summer usually lasts for a few hours in September, historically the flattest month.
The wind always blows on a small island, but it is always offshore somewhere. The problem with this setup is that many outside reefs, rock piles, and underwater gullies either break up swells, block them, or divert them. As a result, a west swell can literally bounce around the island. To chase a swell here, you need a small, nippy car and a sense of humour.
Although the surf does get crowded – there are about 62k people on the island – and it seems everyone surfs, the local people are generally very amicable and easygoing… maybe a little too much…
There are still many houses that have witches’ seats. In old times, the area was supposedly rife with witches, so the locals would build them granite seats so that they could stop and rest before causing more havoc. There are also nearly one hundred pubs in Guernsey, spread evenly over the 25 square miles of the island. One abnormality is a large grouping of pubs (39) in the St Peter Port District. This is probably due to all the sailors.
Do not skip the Vazon Bay
The focal point of surfing is the area called Vazon Bay. Within Vazon Bay, there are actually 6 different breaks, all with different swell and tide requirements. The two main breaks are The Beach and The Reef.
Older surfers from the area didn’t have much imagination regarding naming breaks. So, we have The Beach and The Reef. To the left of The Reef is The Other Side. See what I mean?
Don’t forget to park at The Carpark and go for a quiet beer at The Pub afterwards.
The Other Side is abbreviated to T’Otherside, it can hold a decent size swell. As long as it is from the right direction, otherwise, that swell will bounce around the bay like a pinball before ending up at, you guessed it, T’OtherSide…
There is another break called Poo-Poos Pipe, but I don’t want to venture there.
Another great story from the folklore stories is the story that Guernsey was once invaded by fairies. They were apparently amazed at the beauty of the local women and decided to fight for them. The bloody battle that was said to have followed inspired the name of Rouge Rue in St Peter Port, which translates as “Red Road” and refers to the blood that flowed through the street. The fairies lost.
Talking of which, the premier surf spot is Perelle. The wave is challenging and a slab on the right. You need to be brave to take off on a solid wave at Perelle.
It’s a tricky take-off, and on specific swell directions, it throws some solid little barrels over the inside section. All in all, it can be pretty intimidating. The fairies wouldn’t have cut it on a chunky day.
While it might be a busy island, with crowded waves and often no parking, it is a beautiful place to visit. There are plenty of good surfers, so you’re not going to automatically be the alpha male or beta female in the line-up.
Guernsey surfers are tough human beings. They have to deal with frigid conditions and a tidal range so unbelievable that it can totally mess with your senses.
The world’s first underwater arrest
Guernsey is also the place to obey the bylaws. Many years ago, a local diver illegally poached these local shellfish delicacies called – Ormers.
He was subsequently arrested underwater, by a scuba diving police officer, in what was then known as the world’s first underwater arrest. So should you visit, it would be a great idea to not mess with The Plod in Guernsey.
As you can see, there is a lot more happening in Guernsey than a celebrated and thriving cow population, and tax-free banking facilities.
Enjoy more adventures in Guernsey! Find out more in the following article: Caravanning in Guernsey