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Guernsey vs Jersey

The two largest Channel Islands both have golden beaches, gourmet restaurants and glorious scenery by the bucket load – so where should you spend your holiday? We put both destinations in the ring to fight it out for the best travel destination title.

Round 1: Best of the beaches

The islands both perform strongly in round 1, getting the fight off to a cracking start. Jersey weighs in with the likes of La Haule and Green Island beaches – idyllic stretches of white sand ideal for sunbathing and swimming – and finishes off its assault with a handful of idyllically secluded coves. It also has a classy and facility-packed beach resort up its sleeve in the shape of St Brelade’s Bay. Guernsey pulls no punches either, bringing out the tropical-style west coast beaches of Grandes Rocques, Vazon and Cobo as well as the remote but glorious Moulin Huet Bay. Within day trip distance, too, is Shell Beach on the pint-sized island of Herm: a sizzling strip of sand made entirely out of crushed shells. The Channel Islands are among the sunniest spots in the British Isles, so you’ve got a fighting chance of enjoying fabulous weather whichever destination you choose to visit.

And the winner is… Each island has a full hand of Caribbean-esque beaches to its name, making this round just too close to call.

Round 2: Gourmet grub

Guernsey has plenty to be proud of in the foodie stakes, with a smattering of exquisite bistros such as Fermain Beach Café (Fermain Bay, 01481 238 636) and Auberge du Val (Sous L'Eglise, St Saviour, 01481 263 862) to point to. The island also boasts locally famous Beetons Fish and Chip Shop (Pitronnerie Road, 01481 715 175), which does one of the best versions of this classic dish you’ll have tasted. Jersey, though, cranks the competition up a notch with a remarkable total of four Michelin-starred eateries. Shaun Rankin’s Ormer (7-11 Don Street, St Helier, 01534 725 100), the newest addition to the island’s starred restaurant selection, is a must-visit. If you’re looking for something slightly more budget friendly, however, then try surfer’s favourite El Tico Beach Cantina (?La Grande Route des Mielles?, St Peter, 01534 482 009), which rustles up scrumptious, fuss-free food in a dining room that overlooks the sea. ?

And the winner is… Jersey, by several Michelin stars.

Round 3: Action and adventure

They might be small in size, but both islands offer boundless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Guernsey woos walkers with its vertiginous coastal paths and wow-factor scenery, as well as performing strongly in the adventure stakes thanks to the amazing opportunities for surfers, kayakers, climbers and mountain bikers. Jersey adds golf at La Moye Golf Course (La Moye, St Brelade, 01534 743 401) and Les Mielles Golf & Country Club (St Ouen's Bay, St Peter, 01534 482 787) into the mix, as well as boasting a full range of watersports and the new aMaizin! Adventure Park (La Grande Route de Saint-Pierre, 01534 482 116). So far, the two islands are evenly matched. But Guernsey edges ahead thanks to its easy ferry access to the smaller Channel Islands of Sark and Herm, which both lend themselves to walking, coasteering and kayaking day trips.

And the winner is… It’s a tricky one, but Guernsey takes the title.

Round 4: Chic boutiques

Luxe and local are the two themes of the Channel Islands’ shopping scene, so expect to find a top selection of both high-end boutiques and fascinating little independent shops. Shopping in Guernsey is concentrated around St Peter Port, with the cobbled High Street and its surrounding lanes hosting gems such as designer fashion stockist Nautilus (8 Mill Street, 01481 723 553) and the National Trust-owned Victorian Shop and Parlour (26 Cornet Street, 01481 728 451). Every Friday between 8.30am and 2.30pm, the Market Square is the setting for a popular fresh produce market selling everything from just-caught fish and local meat to chutneys and veggies sourced from around the island. Jersey has regular markets too – the long-running Central Market (Halkett Place?, St Helier) and Beresford Market (Beresford Street, St Helier) are among the best – along with oodles of upmarket jewellery, fashion and artsy shops. Local favourites include Rachel’s Textiles Studio (47 La Colomberie, St Helier, 01534 878 877), The Harbour Gallery (Le Boulevard, St Aubin, 01534 743 044) and award-winning jeweller Catherine Best (Les Chenolles, St Peter, 01534 485 777).

And the winner is… Jersey’s sheer choice wins out in round 4.

Round 5: Family fun

The prospect of romantic clifftop strolls, fabulous fine dining and seaside relaxation makes the Channel Islands a popular couples’ destination, but these idyllic isles also exercise a powerful draw on families. There’s more to see and do on Guernsey than you could possibly pack into one visit, including discovering the ancient harbour fortress of Castle Cornet (St Peter Port, 01481 721 657), go-karting with Karting Guernsey (Victoria Avenue, 01481 723 414), fun for tots at the Jungle House (Oatlands Lane, 01481 241 643) and getting hands-on with history at the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery (Candie Gardens, St Peter Port, 01481 726 518). Jersey, on the other hand, hosts the fascinating Channel Islands Military Museum (La Grande Route Des Mielles, St Ouen, 01534 483 205), the Jersey War Tunnels (Les Charrières Malorey, St Lawrence, 01534 860 808) and the outdoors adventure-focused Creepy Valley Activity Centre (Les Ormes Golf & Leisure Village, Mont a la Brune, 01534 638 888).

And the winner is… It’s another close one, but Guernsey probably packs the weightiest punch.

So who comes out on top?

It all depends on what you’re looking for from a summer escape. Guernsey is a sleepy rural backwater with superlative scenery, a quaint little coastal capital and plenty of remote beaches to relax and kick back on. Jersey is larger and livelier, with more to do in terms of sightseeing and dining. The solution? Visit them both, and make the call for yourself.

 

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