• What are 'The Channel Islands'?
  • Where are they?
  • An introduction to the five Channel Islands: Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm.

Read on to get all the answers and find out what makes these gorgeous islands the perfect place for a beach holiday in the UK. But first, the basics:

Are the Channel Islands a part of the UK?

The Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union - they are Crown Dependencies. This means that their citizens are British but that they have an independent administration. The residents do not vote in UK elections (unless they are resident in the UK at the time).

Which islands make up the Channel Islands?

The islands are divided into the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey - a bailiwick is an area within which a bailiff has jurisdiction. The Bailiwick of Guernsey is made up of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm.

Where are they?

The Channel Islands are located in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy in France. They are actually closer to France than they are to England.

When should you go?

June and July are the best months to visit, when the weather is warmest (average temperature in Jersey in July, for example, is 17°C) but the crowds are less than during the school holidays in August. Another interesting time to visit is around May 9th, when the islands prepare for annual Liberation Day celebrations - last year marked 70 years since the end of the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. There are usually live music concerts and military processions to mark the occasion.

That's that, now let us introduce you to each Channel Island and explain what makes them such a unique holiday destination. Don't forget to tell us which Channel Island's your favourite and why for the chance to feature in out next round-up.

Jersey

What is Jersey's top attraction?

The Jersey War Tunnels, where the harrowing tale of Jersey’s occupation by the Nazis during World War II is told in an innovative exhibition, housed in the underground tunnels slave workers and prisoners of war were forced to dig. Open March to November: adults £12, children £8.

What's the best beach?

Grouville Bay is the island's most popular beach, on the east coast of the island and reached by the number 1 bus. In July and August there is water skiing, wakeboarding, canoes, banana rides, speedboat trips and motor dinghy hire here. There are public toilets in the car park.

Where's the best place to eat and drink in Jersey?

The Ocean at the Atlantic Hotel has a Michelin star and exceptional British cuisine using plenty of Jersey produce. All blue and white, it has a nautical theme, and the menu changes daily to reflect what's fresh (hand dived scallops perhaps).

Where's the best place to stay?

Longueville Manor is a thirteenth century Norman manor house with chic French decor and 15 acres of gardens. It is the island's only Relais and Chateau hotel.

How do you get to Jersey?

There are flights to Jersey from numerous UK airports including Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle.

Jersey harbour, castle in the distance, small houses along the waterfront

Guernsey

What is Guernsey's top attraction?

Castle Cornet, at the mouth of St Peter Port Harbour. The 800-year-old castle is home to five different museums, four gardens and panoramic views back to the capital and Guernsey’s sister islands. Pick of the attractions here is the firing of the Noonday Gun, stoked up daily by soldiers in nineteenth century costume. Open March to October: adults £10, children £2.50, under 7s free.

What's the best beach?

You’re never far from the beach on Guernsey. Head north for wide expanses of icing sugar white sand, south for sheltered coves or west for Britain’s cleanest beach, Vazon Bay – where you’ll also find the best waves. Read on for more of Britain's best beaches, as voted for by you.

Where's the best place to eat and drink in Guernsey?

Mora is located right across from the marina so you can watch the boats bobbing up and down as you feast on locally caught seabass and monkfish - ask what the catch of the day is. For late night cocktails with fantastic views over St Peter Port check out Laska - open until 2am and with over 60 different cocktails on the menu, you've got plenty of time to try find a favourite tipple.

Where's the best place to stay?

The island's leading five-star hotel is the Old Government House Hotel and Spa which has sumptuous traditionally styled rooms in the heart of St Peter Port. It's just a five minute walk from the picturesque quayside.

How do you get to Guernsey?

Flights to Guernsey depart from Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, London Gatwick, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton.

Guernsey

Alderney

What is Alderney's top attraction?

Its birdlife. Ramble across rolling commons, almost always leading to the sea, and find yourself in the thick of dozens of gannets, puffins, guillemots and peregrines.

What's the best beach?

Saye Beach (pronounced ‘soy’) is popular with families and is a perfect curve of white sand nestled between rocky headlands. Saye is just over the dunes from the island’s only campsite and a ten minute walk from the island's main harbour.

Where's the best place to eat and drink in Alderney?

Braye Chippy by the eponymous harbour is the island's only fish and chip shop, and therefore a local institution. This is more than just somewhere for cod and chips - try the king prawns in garlic butter. Step right off the beach and back in time at The Divers Inn (Braye Street); first opened in 1847, it's the only pub on the island with access to the beach and the perfect place to enjoy a drink and soak up some of Alderney's past.

Where's the best place to stay?

Fort Clonque, a nineteenth century coastal fortress built to protect the Channel Islands from French naval invasion. Troop across the causeway to reach this imposing and impressive building, adrift at high tide off the coast of Alderney, before passing through the drawbridge and sleeping surrounded by the sound of the ocean.

How do you get to Alderney?

There are flights to Alderney from Southampton, as well as from Guernsey. Alternatively, take a Bumblebee Boat Cruise from Guernsey to Alderney.

Alderney, Corblets Beach and Fort

Sark

What is Sark's top attraction?

The night sky. Sark was the world’s first dark sky island and is now home to a brand new observatory. Time your visit for the New Moon and prepare to adjust those eyes to proper darkness – and to see the stars like never before. Sark is one of our favourite secret European islands - check out the rest in our round-up.

What's the best beach?

La Grande Grève is on the north coast of Little Sark (attached to Sark by a narrow isthmus called La Coupee) and is Sark's largest and most popular beach. Rent a bike in the village and it's just a 15 minute cycle down to its wide golden sands.

Where's the best place to eat and drink in Sark?

The restaurant at the Sablonnerie Hotel is the best place to try the island's lobster, caught in pots just offshore. The dining room is traditional and cosy while in summer there's a flower-filled garden for eating al fresco.

Where's the best place to stay?

The family-owned Stocks Hotel in the centre of the island has fresh, recently refurbished rooms and a relaxed elegance. They even make their own sloe gin!

How do you get to Sark?

Sark is a short ferry ride from Guernsey. Boats go across a few times a day (check the timetable for more info) and adult single tickets are £14.25, child singles are £6.60 and under 3s travel for free.

The coupee links Sark and Little Sark

Herm

What is Herm's top attraction?

Herm's quirkiness is what makes it unique. This tiny island has no cars, no crowds, and way more birds than people! A stroll across the island is just one and a half miles but will almost certainly mean seeing puffins, so strap those hiking boots on or prepare to jump aboard a horse and cart.

What's the best beach?

Idyllic Shell Beach in the island's north is an expanse of wide bright white sand that crunches underfoot (that'll be the shells). Don’t miss the ice cream kiosk here.

Where's the best place to eat and drink in Herm?

Fish and chips and a pint of ale in the Mermaid Tavern is Herm's best dining experience. This is the centre of island life and the perfect place to soak up the friendly atmosphere, as well as the sunshine in its courtyard. Closed mid-winter.

Where's the best place to stay?

The island only has one place to stay, the White House Hotel. Here you'll find harbour views, a lush garden and luxurious suites - but no clocks, televisions or telephones.

How do you get to Herm?

Tiny Herm is reached by a daily Trident ferry from Guernsey: adults £13, children £6.50 and infants £1.50.

Aerial view of channel islands and Herm

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