AZURE blue waters, 27 white-sand beaches, tales of swashbuckling pirates, moreish ice cream and duty-free shopping.
These are just a few tasters as to why Guernsey — the second largest isle in the Channel Islands — might provide a paradise escape for the family this summer.
It’s just a 45-minute flight from Southampton or three hours on the ferry departing Poole and, from this week, the island is welcoming vaccinated travellers and their children.
I recently spent a month on Guernsey, checking out some of its sights — and even then, I hadn’t exhausted all of the options.
The first thing to note is that thanks to strict lockdowns and almost all residents being vaccinated, there are no Covid restrictions, so a strange sense of normality hits you as soon as you land.
Bustling pubs, handshakes and all that jazz.
As for hotels, there is a nice mix of spots to suit all budgets.
I liked the Duke Of Normandy in the capital St Peter Port for its budget-friendly rooms and central location.
If you are after somewhere a little more sedate, The Peninsula Hotel on the north coast is a great option.
Kids will love the big swimming pool, while the recently refurbished bar and restaurant has a fab range of cocktails, ales and hearty food for adults.
The best way to explore the 62sq km island is by bike and the circumference is doable in a day if you feel energetic.
Go Guernsey Land And Sea has both adult and children’s bikes for rent.
The ebikes are a great option for tackling the super-steep areas around St Peter Port.
Guernsey recently introduced EVie bikes, which anyone can hire. They are found all over the island and are rented using an app, priced at £1 per ten minutes for the first two hours.
The inland roads take you past rolling fields and the world’s smallest consecrated chapel is a must-visit, with the minuscule place of worship adorned with thousands of pieces of pottery.
Meanwhile, the coastal road on the north side is sublime, with vast stretches of sand to gaze at as you go.
Vazon Bay is one of Guernsey’s most beautiful beaches and you can learn to surf there.
The spot also boasts one of the island’s top restaurants, Crabby Jack’s, which is family-friendly with ice cream sundaes to make your Instagram followers drool.
Ice cream is one of the island’s specialities and almost every beach has a kiosk open for refreshments. In St Peter Port, check out the funky flavours at the Slaughterhouse bar and eatery.
An islander also informed me that neighbouring island Herm is one of the best places for ice cream, so I checked it out.
Owned by the States of Guernsey and measuring just 1.3miles by 0.5mile, Herm has no cars, and is home to two pubs, a 40-room hotel and six beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean.
It also boasts Europe’s most southerly puffin-breeding colonies — and I spotted several of the creatures flapping frantically above the water, fish hanging from their tangerine beaks, during a kayaking trip.
The session is one of several great activities for all ages offered by Outdoor Guernsey.
After working up a thirst paddling the glistening blue waters, The Mermaid Tavern has a fine selection of ales and its ice cream gets top marks.
Just be sure to keep an eye on the time, as the boats run with the tide and aren’t too frequent.
As you sail back to Guernsey you get a magnificent view of Castle Cornet, which dates back to the 13th century.
It is the ultimate playground for children, with cannons galore and historic gardens to play knights and royalty, as well as various events staged throughout the year.
If pirates and fairies are more to your kids’ liking, then silver-accredited guide Soo Wellfair hosts entertaining walking tours.
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These feature stops at Vale Castle — built to protect the island from pirates — and the mysterious Fairy Ring, a circlular ditch dug into the land with stones lying around the outside at the Pleinmont headland.
Before you head home after your island adventure, be sure to stock up on mementos.
Guernsey has some great duty-free shopping deals on everything from high-end watches to tech.
COVID: As of July 1, fully vaccinated UK citizens can visit with no requirement to quarantine or test. Children under 12 travelling with vaccinated parents/guardians assume the same status. Children aged between 12 and 17 travelling with fully vaccinated adults must test on arrival and then isolate until the results come back (between 24 and 48 hours).
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Five nights’ B&B at the 4H St Pierre Park Hotel is from £489pp, including travel by sea or air on selected dates up to August 31.
Includes travel as a foot passenger by sea from Poole or by air from Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Southampton.
See channelislandsdirect.co.uk or call 08444 937 486.
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