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Family travel: Jersey

With fantastic beaches and food to match, a trip to Jersey — the largest Channel Island — is a sure-fire hit with kids

Family travel: Jersey
Mont Orguei, Jersey, United Kingdom. Image: Getty

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Why go?
When you have a two-year-old in tow (Lily-Jane), the idea of a flight so short you hardly get to drink a cup of coffee is pretty exciting. But then, where would you go? Manchester? Sheffield? How about Jersey? An island of sunshine, beautiful beaches, great food and friendly locals. The airport is 15 minutes from just about anywhere, driving is on the left, and the island is so compact you can see most of it in a few days. Best of all: it’s so safe, residents leave their houses and cars unlocked. Not bad for a quick hop across the channel.

What is there to do?
Beaches are everywhere, meaning they’re generally pretty deserted. They’re also low risk, with the sea barely lapping your ankles even after a long walk out. The promenade at St Brelade’s Bay is dotted with shops and crab shacks, while St Ouen’s Bay is nature at its more rustic, with a wonderful beachside cafe complete with a red-and-white stripy canopy and sandpit for the kids. Nice day? Grab a seat with a view, order the Jersey crab and a glass of Gascogne white and settle in for the afternoon. For un-beachy types, there are castles — Mont Orgueil dates back to the 13th century — lavender farms, adventure parks and tunnels dug by the Nazis. Animal lovers should head for Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, a sanctuary for orangutans, gorillas, reptiles, Madagascan lemurs and Andean bears, set in 32 beautiful acres of forest and parkland. St Helier, Jersey’s capital, is where to go for a culture hit, with shops, pubs, restaurants and boats bobbing on a marina, while smaller, quainter St Aubin’s Bay has delis, yachts and upmarket waterside restaurants. Jersey is also famed for its produce: don’t leave without trying Jersey Royal potatoes, flaky Jersey crab, succulent beef and a dab or two of cream from those Jersey cows.

Where to stay?
I imagine the absence of signposts directing guests to the five-star Atlantic Hotel is to make people who’ve been driving around looking for it even more grateful to arrive in paradise. Never have I been so pleased to park in front of a hotel — and marvel at all its bright white, beach-beautiful glory. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it oozes charm — from the ocean views to the stylish decor: all oak floors, cream furnishings and brushed chrome. There’s a star-studded restaurant (one Michelin, four AA Rosette) that welcomes kids, a health club with a pool and a championship golf course. But the main draw has to be the raw beauty of St Ouen’s, a deserted beach nearby.

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Highs: “There’s a sandpit outside if you’d rather sit out,” says the woman at Le Braye Cafe. “We can pull a table round so your daughter can make sandcastles while you relax with your wine. Shame to be inside.”
Lows: The sea — it’s amazing. But freezing.
Best for: Families with babies and/or toddlers looking for a relaxing break.
How to do it: Doubles at the Atlantic Hotel from £150 a night based on two sharing and including breakfast. Direct return flights with EasyJet start at £73 for July departures, including taxes.

Published in the Summer 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family