When you think of taking a vacation in Southern California, you may not have an idea that you might encounter rare wildlife in the gorgeous archipelagos.
The Channel Islands offer an extensive, stunning coastline routes and rural hamlets for you to explore. Enjoy a cool fresh breeze brushing your face and that great feeling of soft sand between your toes as you take a stroll on these beautiful beaches.
Other than the Channel Islands being a breathtaking tourist destination, it also has its hidden stories. For several years, rumors had it that white sharks were roaming around these exotic islands till they were documented on a video tape confirming the claims. Several great white and blue sharks were videotaped feeding on a Minke Whale carcass floating in the deep Santa Barbara Channel between the Channel Islands National Park and Ventura. Marine wildlife experts claim that South California coastline has a conducive breeding environment for both blue and white sharks. Visiting any, if not all of the Channel Islands can be a life changing experience for you and your loved ones.
The mainland visitor centers in Santa Barbara and Ventura are easily accessible by car or bus, but the islands can only be accessed by plane or renting a yacht. Public and Private Yacht Rental Los Angeles services are available throughout the year in all visitors’ centers.
The Island of Jersey
Jersey, one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel (in contrast to Jersey, USA), is a small yet beautiful island, perfect for a short holiday.
The island itself is as far south as France (St. Malo is less than 4 miles away and visible on a clear day), and so while it’s still part of the British Empire, it benefits from the far better weather.
This weather means not only an ideal place for camping, beaches and outdoor pursuits but also you will see a profusion of plants and animals not normally seen in mainland Britain. Most notable is the only British population of the Green Lizard, often nicknamed the Jersey Green Lizard for just this very reason. Reaching around a foot long, and the males possessing a bright blue throat they are certainly a wonderful (if rare) sight to behold. Red squirrels can still be seen here for the eagle-eyed and dolphins may often be seen during the summer months. White sharks have also been spotted several times; thus, the reason why the National Wildlife service has been warning swimmers and divers to stay away from areas where these sea predators have been spotted.
Talking of beaches, while the island only measures a few miles long there are beaches for all occasions. Long, sandy beaches perfect for surfing, more protected “sunbather” beaches and wild rocky outcrops covered in breeding seabirds.
There are even some caves that only appear at low tide.
You can arrive by ferry or plane as Jersey is well served by both a safe port at St. Helier or an airport on the west side of the island. Private boats for rentals are also available if you would like to maintain your privacy when visiting the Channel Islands. Yachts and boats are easy to find by the use of yacht rental app or searching boat charters near me.
Escaping from the attractive but busy main town of St. Helier, venture to the northern half of the island for the “true” Jersey experience. Rolling fields filled with Jersey cows producing thick, delicious cream. Farmers fields green with the tops of Jersey Royals – the finest new potatoes around. Greenhouses filled with flame-red tomatoes. Foxglove-strewn laybys and meadows and the deep blue sea. There are also castles and fishing-boat filled coves to enjoy.
Jersey has a low national speed limit, plenty of narrow tracks and a “no caravan” rule making it a great place to walk or cycle, and an efficient local bus service covers the entire island. Exploring this small island is, therefore, safe, practical and incredibly good fun.
Other things to see here are the underground tunnels used by the Nazis during the war (the Channel Islands are as far north as the invasion got) and the world-famous Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust (or just “Jersey Zoo”!). It was here that a small boy fell into the gorilla pit many years ago much to the shock of his parents. Alive, but scared, rather than being attacked, the boy was watched over and looked after by the gorillas until keepers were able to extract him safely.
Personally, I like to camp though there are plenty of hotels around (less self-catering accommodation though) of an international standard. Being a tax haven, Jersey boasts rich businesspeople, private jets, cruising yachts and Ferraris making it a more British Monaco. English is spoken, they drive on the left, and they use the pound. There is, however, a lovely “French” feel in the style of the houses, many French place names and the excellent quality of food available here – especially the seafood.
Jersey endured occupation during World War Two, and many memorials pay homage to the individuals caught up in conflict one way or another. A set of war tunnels invites visitors to see how weapons and soldiers were protected, then hospitalized, far from the eyes of the enemy. Take part in interactive exhibitions which tell the true-life stories of those involved. La Hougue Bie, a Neolithic burial mound, also became a bunker during the conflict.
Head back further through a history of combat and defense to Elizabeth Castle where exhibits demonstrate the arms and apparel of war through the centuries. Visit Mont Orgueil Castle, built to protect Jersey from the French. Climb its step and wander through exhibits of medieval castle life at its site on Gorey Harbor.
A harmonious blend of amazing scenery and modern living is what you should expect when visiting Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, the small group of islands that lies in the English Channel close to the French Shore in Normandy. A mix of beautiful beaches, walking paths and rambles all over the island; Guernsey seems to have it all.
The island’s capital, St Peter, is a very vivid port town, a patchwork of cultures and languages. This is not surprising since the Channel Islands are closer to the French coast; thus, you can find a mixture of French and English dialects there. There are typical pubs and French bistros, restaurants and small cheese houses, little shopping malls with amazing variety, for their size, and numerous ferry boats that can take you either to France or the other sister islands.
The island of Guernsey is, of course, part of the United Kingdom, loyal to the crown, something that can be confirmed when looking back to the Norman times. The island is autonomous and self-governing, retaining the same level of autonomy and independence since it was included in the Kingdom.
Guernsey is not only famous for its beaches and the lovely nature, but also for a steady and solid local economy; many offshore companies, banks, and insurance companies are located on the island since the fiscal affairs, and economic structure of the island allows them to function easily and peacefully. Guernsey boasts its own currency – although you can still use the typical British Pound – as well as its own stamps.
The island is certainly one that is filled with absolute natural beauty. There are many different walking paths and trails that you can take around the island, and these can be traversed on foot or by bike. In addition to this, there are many lovely little beaches that you can visit with the lovely sound and relatively warm seas during the summer months.
In fact, it is during the summer that is the best time to visit this lovely little island if you choose to do so. Unlike anywhere in England, because the island is much closer to France, you will find warm temperatures during the summer months. It is not uncommon to have summers that last a lot longer than what you would get in England, and as such, it is a fantastic little destination for any family holiday.
At just three square miles, the even smaller island of Alderney lies to the north east and is easily accessible by boat. Again, most of the island’s beaches are found in the north, but the island is also known for its rich wildlife including Puffins and the native Blonde Hedgehog. The island is also unique due to its lack of trees and a great many rocks that surround it. The nightlife on the island is considered vibrant, while Alderney Week runs during early August which includes a torchlight procession and a “Daft Raft Race.”
Sark and Herm
These two islands have an area of just over three square miles between them. Sark is the larger and consists of two main parts: Greater Sark in the north and Little Sark in the south – and also both are home to around 600 people. There are no cars on Sark and Herm; instead, visitors are urged to walk around and can only access the islands via boat or renting a yacht. To enjoy real life experience, you should consider chartering a private yacht. Yacht Rental San Diego service offers different types of yachts suitable for anyone whether a small family or a couple of friends taking a vacation. Herm is home to just 60 people, who are tenants of the State of Guernsey – however, camping and self-catering are available.
The capital of the island, St Peter, is a city that is blessed with a mix of culture. This is not surprising given that it is much closer to France and England, and as such there are many different interesting features that you can enjoy when you visit the island. It will get things like typical English pubs, and then next door a typical French bistro.
If you are looking for a holiday destination where you can spend your days outside exploring the countryside, hitting the beach, going wildlife-spotting or ambling around landscaped gardens, then there is nowhere better than the Channel Islands. Here you will also get an opportunity to confirm the presence of white sharks you hear from stories. You should take caution when going for a dive or a swim since you might come face to face with one of the most feared sea predator, the white shark. Although there have not been an incidence of shark attacks on human, National Parks officials have always warned visitors to be careful within Islands’ waters.
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The largest of these, Jersey, is home to a particular abundance of outdoor places of interest and is also renowned for the sheer variety of its terrain, which helps to support a selection of flora and fauna.
Whatever the address of your guest house accommodation in Jersey, you will find it is no chore to reach one of these attractions, whether you are traveling by car, public transport or on foot.
Indeed, walking is one of the best ways to discover the natural delights of the island, while you could also hire a bicycle and set off on two wheels, making use of the abundant trails.
One of your first stops should be at Reg’s Garden in St Brelade, a site that illustrates just how important the great outdoors is to the people who live here.
The place is home to thousands of plants that may help inspire you to grow something new in your own garden, while wandering around is a particularly sensory experience thanks to the splashing waterfall, singing birds and rippling ponds.
Another nature enthusiast who has opened up their green space to the public is Judith Queree. Situated in St Ouen, in this garden you will find thousands of varieties of flora that have originated from all over the world, including 2,000 herbaceous perennials.
Of course, there are also many more formal public outdoor areas for you to visit during your time on the island. One of the most popular attractions in Jersey is Le Noir Pre Orchid Field. Here you will be able to see the loose-flowered variety growing freely, along with southern marsh, common spotted and heath spotted orchids. Also, the blooms help attract many insects and butterflies.
If you are particularly passionate about this breed of flower, then you are sure to also want to pay a visit to the Eric Young Orchid Foundation in the parish of Trinity. The nursery here is practically bursting with the sweet-smelling flora, while outside, there are landscaped gardens for you to enjoy.
One of the most popular outdoor places of interest is Gardens of Samares Manor. The grounds here were established in the 1920s by the millionaire shipping magnate Sir James Knott, and they are not just good to look at but serve a practical purpose too. For example, if you love nothing better than cutting fresh sprigs of rosemary or thyme from a window box when you are cooking then you will surely be astounded by the herb garden you will find on these grounds.
Boasting one of the most comprehensive collections of herbs in Europe, the air here smells unbelievably good thanks to all the sumptuous plants growing in the earth. There is even a viewing platform for you to look down on the whole design from above, while you will be able to pick up a few herbs of your own on your way out.
When you visit the island, it is quite likely that you will stay in St Helier, the largest town in Jersey and center for many of the attractions you are likely to visit. There are plenty of shops in St Helier which cater to locals and tourists alike. You’ll also find a wide range of restaurants and bars where you can spend a pleasant time eating and drinking as well as enjoying the relative tranquility of the island.
St Helier is also home to the Fort Regent Leisure Center, which features all the latest health and fitness equipment so that you can work off any large lunches that tempted you!
Fort Regent also hosts the majority of the concerts and other events that are staged on the island, so be sure to check out its schedule at the time of your visit. If you want to hire a vehicle to explore the island, there are various car rental places on Jersey or, if you are more adventurous, you could think about hiring a scooter instead. Just remember that many of the island’s 350 miles of roads are narrow.
There are plenty of beaches on the Channel Islands so if all you want to do is relax and soak up the sun, and then you will be spoilt for choice. The island’s climate is mild, and summers are normally the sunniest that you will find anywhere in the British Isles.
If you like to surf, then you should most definitely make sure that your hotel is close to St Ocean’s Bay. The area caters for everyone from beginners upwards to the people who flock there for the international surfing tournaments. If you find surfers a distraction from your sunbathing, choose St Brelade’s Bay instead. It is also a great place to take your family for camping and kayaking. In fact, there is a family that confessed to having fallen in love with the Channel Islands despite their white shark encounter while kayaking. This is a large sandy beach with the emphasis on family fun, including fun boats and canoes to keep the children active.