Jersey is an island that will forever have a nostalgic importance to me, and also a place that definitely shaped my love for the ocean.
I’ve been lucky to have visited often with family whilst growing up. We often spent summer holidays here, camping and spending whole days at the beach. But as we grew older, time away was instead spent with friends and partners, until one year we all found the time to visit again as a family. Every visit to the island feels like arriving home.
Having spent time away, it gave us the ability to the see the island in a new light, which included seeking different experiences. Now I would never turn down a bit of sand castle building, but y’know I’ve developed a love of some of the finer things in life, like hitting the pub, and wine tasting… two alcohol choices, interesting…
Something we had often talked about was exploring more of the coastline by boat, which led us to finding a trip to Échréous, a sporadic collection of small islands, rocks and skerries 6 miles off the northeastern coastline of Jersey.
CURRENCY | Pound Sterling (Jersey have their own coin/note designs)
TIME NEEDED | 1-2 weeks
SEASONS & WEATHER | Cold in winter, warm in summer. The sunniest place in the British isles! Visit anytime, but summer should guarantee better weather.
LANGUAGES | English, but Jèrriais is the old local language and is now taught in schools!
HOW TO SAY HELLO IN Jèrriais | Bouônjour
TRANSPORT | Walking & bicycle are vest!
NEAREST AIRPORT | Jersey Airport (JER)
NEAREST FERRY TERMINAL | St. Helier Port. Whether a foot passenger or bringing your own car, you can also arrive in Jersey by boat.
Getting to Échréous | Book ahead and hop on a boat tour from St. Catherine’s Breakwater.
For such a small collection of rocky islands, it has a unique and colourful history. From fairly recent ownership disputes between France and the UK, to smugglers and even an inhabitant who once claimed sovereignty over the islands and called himself king.
We hopped on one of the boats from Island Rib Voyages (completely unsponsored, they were just absolutely fantastic!) and departed from the boat ramp at St. Catherine’s breakwater.
The crew were very knowledgable about wildlife, and pointed out an Atlantic grey seal and her pup lounging on the rocks as we approached the main islands. They often see bottlenose dolphins, but we weren’t so fortunate that day!
Only a few minor patches of hardy grasses and plants can be found, the rest of the rocky shorelines are coated in clumps of bladderwrack and oarweed seaweed, clinging to the exposed reef and rocks.
The islands are no longer inhabited on a permanent basis, however fishermen and holiday home owners frequently visit to spend time on the island, so the boat captain reminds you of this before you start hopping over fences or peering through windows.
There is something about islands that seems to draw us in. The feeling of having a place all to yourself. Being cut off from a mainland and its resources, and of being generally more exposed, and perhaps a little vulnerable, and dependent on the elements and weather.
Suddenly, small details and thoughts become very large. You pay more attention to the landscape, how it was formed or how it has been weathered, and the flora and fauna that inhabits it.
Island life has always appealed to me, but I think it’s important to remember that its not all blue skies and abundance. Storms batter and rage through island clusters with more force as they are generally more exposed to winds and currents, and the threat of climate change and rising sea levels threatens island life for people all over the World.
Jersey and the surrounding areas have one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world. Échréous being no different, with its size increasing dramatically at low tide. On one of the larger islands, known as La Marmotchiéthe, the channel that connects it to the other islands is actually cut off by the sea during high tide. So the cottages become cut off for a portion of the day.
After leaving Échréous, we bounced off across the waves for what can only be described as ‘off-road’ boating. One of the best things about rib boats is their speed and agility in the water, so the captain zoomed off down the coast, passing the breakwater, and St. Anne’s Port before pausing off the coast at Mount Orgueil castle.
We were on the look out for dolphins, however after an unsuccessful but fun search, we bounced back along the waves, and alighted back onto St. Catherine’s breakwater, much to the relief of my younger brother who actually, greatly dislikes open water and riding in small boats…