For those readers unfamiliar with the concept of island hopping, it is the idea of travelling from one island to another, especially when the islands concerned are quite closely grouped together. These requisites for island hopping then, make Guernsey a must visit destination for those seeking a multicentre island holiday, as I take you through the various islands on offer.
As the main island in the Bailiwick of Guernsey with the most air and ferry travel connections, Guernsey is the logical first port of call on this island hopping adventure. With great accommodation and plenty to do, you could happily spend a day, a weekend, a week, or even two here before moving on to your next port of call. The island is a blend of rural retreats and cosmopolitan escapes, catering to the every need of your holiday requirement. Spend the morning climbing rocks and jumping off cliffs on a coasteering session, take a calming stroll through wooded valleys, and dine in five-star luxury all in the space of one day.
You will probably end up in Guernsey more than once, as it is easiest to travel to the other islands via Guernsey. You can travel directly from Herm to Sark and so on, however you will have to charter a boat, whereas ferry services to each island, and flights to Alderney, operate out of Guernsey.
This is the one island where you definitely need to visit via Guernsey, as Lihou is only accessible via a causeway from Guernsey’s L’Eree Bay. That does mean you have to walk to an island! It is definitely advisable you only cross the causeway when the tide is out, as you can easily be cut off by the sea, stranded on the island, or even taken by the tide. Always check the tide tables before setting off to Lihou. On the island itself you will find the remains of a 12th century priory, a designated RAMSAR site, a bird sanctuary, and Lihou House if you wish to stay overnight.
After Lihou, Herm is the next closest island to Guernsey that is accessible to the public. Herm Trident provides a ferry service between Herm and St Peter Port Harbour in Guernsey, so within twenty minutes you are whisked away to a tranquil corner of the world that you may never have known existed. Step out of your accommodation, be it your hotel room, tent, or self-catering apartment, and saunter down to the beach. Herm’s white sandy beaches could have been taken straight out of the Caribbean, and are the perfect place to let all of your worries drift away. You may never want to leave, but at some point we must continue with our island hopping.
Larger than Herm, but just as peaceful is the isle of Sark. Like Herm, cars are not permitted on Sark, and while you may come across the odd tractor or quad bike, the island is a haven for walkers and cyclists, whilst also providing you the opportunity to get around by horse and carriage. The natural beauty of Sark is something that simply has to be seen first hand to truly appreciate. In 2011 Sark became the first Dark Sky Island, meaning there is such little light pollution that visitors can experience naked-eye astronomy.
Alderney is our final stop on this island hopping holiday, and offers something a bit different than the previous islands. Larger than Sark, but significantly smaller than Guernsey, Alderney allows cars but is only home to around 2,400 permanent residents. For scale, that is just over half of the average attendance of an English League Two football match. So what is it that makes Alderney different? In reality it is the sheer quirkiness of the island, combined with its natural beauty. Despite being only four and half square miles in size, Alderney is the only Channel Island with a railway, which takes you from Braye Road near the harbour up to Mannez Station at the north eastern tip of the island. The highlight of Alderney comes in the summer when the annual Alderney Week festival takes place, with quarry parties, street markets, home-made raft racing, and man-powered flight competitions being a few noteworthy points. To truly define the quirkiness of Alderney, there is a box of unfinished knitting in the airport in case you are ever delayed.
All in all, an island-hopping holiday around the Bailiwick of Guernsey, while short haul from the UK, will make you feel like you’re on another planet. It simply seems out of this world.