It's the largest and southernmost of the Channel Islands and promotes itself as the 'warmest place in the British Isles'. Richard Webber discovers that the warmth extends beyond the climatic conditions…
Friendly people, inviting landscapes, intriguing culture – Jersey is a gem of a place to explore. About nine miles by five, it’s an ideal short-break destination, with plenty to see and do.
Whatever season you visit, pack hiking boots, because there are myriad walking opportunities. Whether you prefer a gentle beach stroll or more challenging trek on rugged cliff paths, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
As for the vegan scene, we discovered an exclusively vegan café in St Helier, while many places offer a vegan menu or range of options.
Where to eat
The Sinful Vegan
This cosy café-cum-restaurant is, as far as I could tell, the only 100% plant-based eatery on the island. Situated in the heart of St Helier, Jersey’s main town, Italian-born Clarissa Negro opened Sinful Vegan in 2018 and has never looked back.
Black and white are the dominant colours here with pops of green courtesy of countless plants dotted around the restaurant.
Around 95% of the food dished up is prepared on the premises, using local produce, with the Ultimate Sinful Burger the most popular item on the menu.
I chose the vegan hot dawg (seitan sausage with crispy onions, ketchup and mustard served with chips, £9.50), followed by delicious chocolate cake.
Other main course options include Kentucky No Chicken Fillet Burger, Classic Burger (soy patty garnished with lettuce, tomato, red onion and sauce, £10.50) and Rice Rolls (£7.90). Breakfasts, sandwiches, desserts and plenty of drinks are available.
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (once the alcohol licence is granted, hopes are to open Friday and Saturday evenings).
25 Halket Street, St Helier; thesinfulvegan.com
With three outlets within short distance of each other in St Helier centre, R Fresh is about pre-packed grab-and-go food. Don’t let that put you off – food is fresh, tasty and all packaging is non-plastic.
If you fancy resting weary limbs, there are a few tables and chairs to choose from. Around 30% of the produce on offer is vegan, while oat, almond and soya milk are available for drinks.
When I visited, choices included edamame and soya with spice (£2) and homemade houmous with carrot (£1.90). I tried the vegan pot (spiced cauliflower rice beans, onion, carrot and parsley in a chilli sauce topped with coriander, radish and sesame seeds, £3.80).
Open: Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm; Charing Cross branch open Saturdays 9.30am-3.30pm
6 New Street, 12A Charing Cross and 12 La Colomberie, St Helier; rfresh.je
Promoted as a “celebration of beach culture and street food from around the world”, you’ll find this colourful wooden snack bar in the car park overlooking Ouaisné Bay in Jersey’s southwest corner.
Owner Chris has more than 20 years’ catering experience and serves everything from breakfast and snacks to lunch and dinner.
There is a dedicated vegan menu and I sampled the delicious sweet potato and spinach curry served with smoked tofu, pineapple salsa and rice followed by a soya-based ice cream for dessert.
Other options included a grilled halloumi burger (£6). There’s a choice of eating al fresco or sitting under a marquee lit by fairy lights.
Open: Check the website or Facebook page for opening hours.
Rue de Ouaisne, St Brelade; kismetcabana.com
Ransom’s Garden Centre Tearoom & Restaurant
This family-run garden centre in St Martin, one of 12 parishes on the island, opened its doors in 1966.
It was born from the combined passion of Sarah Ransom, a qualified patisserie chef, who dreamt of opening a restaurant, and her mother, who’d always wanted to run a tearoom.
This combination of ideas works extremely well and the place is popular with locals and tourists alike. The tearoom, where I enjoyed delicious vegan cakes, has been operating since 1991 with seating for over 100 people.
The company started offering vegan food four years ago and has seen demand grow. Soup is always vegan, while the main menu contained such offerings as skillet of stuffed aubergine (£11.95), vegan fish finger burger (£10.95), black bean and beetroot burger (£11.95) and grilled vegan chorizo (£9.95).
Menus are seasonal, so check the website. When it comes to the cakes on offer, the owners state on their website: “The cakes and pastries provide a catwalk of gastronomic delight and desire for everyone from the young to the less young.” And I can vouch for that. Blueberry and vanilla pod cheesecake and chocolate cake are scrummy.
Open: Mon-Sun 9am-6pm.
La Grande Route de Faldouet, St Martin; ransoms.je
Open all day in the centre of St Helier, Samphire is viewed by many as one of Jersey’s top restaurants. The menu contains a few vegan dishes.
When I visited, main courses were miso-glazed aubergine, spiced baba ghanoush, borlotti beans and basil or tagliatelle, creamed mushrooms, garlic and tarragon.
For dessert, I enjoyed strawberries, almond mousse and rhubarb sorbet. The current menu (see website) offers plantbased dishes such as herb gnocchi (£14) and two desserts, including sticky date sponge (£9).
Open: Mon-Fri 8.30am-late, Sat 10.30-late.
11 Don Street, St Helier; samphire.je
Situated above the slipway at La Haule, along the coast from St Helier, you’ll find Nude Beach. Its unbeatable beachside setting makes it a popular spot, so it’s best to book for an evening visit.
The painted wood cabin has seating inside and on the terrace overlooking the beach. Vegan wine and alcohol, plus hot and cold drinks are available.
The menu when I visited included a beetroot and quinoa burger in a vegan bun with handcut chips (£10) and, as a light bite, cauliflower fritters with a mango chilli and lime salad (£7.50).
Open: Mon-Thurs 9am-4pm; Fri 9am-4.30pm and 5.30pm-11pm; Sat 9am-4pm and 5.30pm-11pm; Sun 9am-4pm
La Haute, St Aubin; nudefood.je
The Atlantic Hotel’s superb restaurant isn’t the cheapest on the island, but it’s among the best, hence the awarding of a Michelin star for the 11th consecutive year.
What I particularly liked is that staff are more than happy to adapt dishes to suit dietary requirements. The restaurant, with its muted colours, splashes of aquamarine and white shutters framing beautiful views, exudes a tranquil Mediterranean vibe.
Although the menu is largely non-vegan, ask the staff to modernise dishes or, if you’re looking to treat yourself and have deep pockets, try the seven-course vegan tasting menu (£85).
When I visited, dishes included beetroot tartare with fresh horseradish, dill salad and beetroot powder; steamed asparagus with pea purée, edamame beans and wilted baby gems while a sweeter course involved dark chocolate and avocado cake.
Open: Lunch served Mon-Fri 12-2pm, Sat & Sun 12.30-2.30pm. Dinner served between 6.30pm-9.30pm.
Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade; theatlantichotel.com
Top five places to visit
1. Jersey Lavender Farm
If you visit the island between Easter and autumn, pop along to Jersey Lavender Farm, where the plant has been produced for over three decades.
Within nine acres, 55,000 lavender plants produce a blaze of colour when in bloom. Kids will enjoy the Discovery Nature Trail, while in the bottling lab you can see where the oils are matured and blended with other ingredients to form fragrances for perfumes and toiletries.
2. Jersey’s Beaches
I’ve spent much time exploring the coastline and the island’s many wonderful beaches, which come in all shapes and sizes.
Everyone has their favourites and I like Grève de Lecq on the north coast because its golden sands are easily accessible with plenty of parking opportunities close by.
The beach is sheltered – unless a northerly is blowing! My favourite to walk along, though, is St Ouen’s Bay, popular with surfers who ride the Atlantic rollers crashing onto this five-mile stretch of sand.
3. Jersey War Tunnels
A must for your itinerary. Between 1941- 44, forced labourers, working in horrendous conditions, dug nearly a mile of tunnels and chambers into the rock, producing an underground network protected from air or land attack.
There are informative displays throughout the tunnels, one spotlighting what life was like for locals during the German occupation.
4. La Hougue Bie Museum
Here you’ll learn about Jersey’s Neolithic community 6,000 years ago, among other things. One of Europe’s most impressive passage graves, you can walk up to a medieval chapel sitting atop a prehistoric mound.
Treasures displayed in the geology and archaeology museum include swords, spears and coins. Apparently, the world’s tenth oldest building sits on the site!
5. Castles & Historic Buildings
You’ll come across lots of interesting historic buildings on the island, including Mont Orgueil Castle, which protected Jersey against a French invasion over 600 years ago. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Castle is worth visiting, too.
It can be reached on foot at low tide or by small ferry at low or high tide. Make sure you also visit Le Moulin de Quetivel, the island’s only surviving working water mill. Situated in one of the island’s prettiest valleys, it’s surrounded by water meadows.
Where to stay
The Atlantic Hotel
Staying at the family-owned Atlantic Hotel, which sits above St. Ouen’s Bay on Jersey’s west coast, is an experience you’ll never forget.
It’s a fantastic place and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Its unbeatable location had me entranced the moment I saw the view from the step-on balcony (make sure you book a seaview room).
Nothing beats sitting and staring out towards the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the distant sound of waves breaking over rocks.
Facilities include an award-winning restaurant, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, free parking, tennis courts and much, much more.
Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade; thatlantichotel.com
We travelled with Condor Ferries (condorferries.co.uk – 0845 609 1024), which operates a year round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its fast ferry, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth. The biggest advantage of choosing the fast ferry is speed: it reduces crossing time by at least half.
We took our own vehicle, but if you’d like to hire a car or book a hotel close to your point of departure before travelling, contact Holiday Extras (holidayextras.co.uk – 0800 131 3777).
For information on Jersey, go to visit jersey.com, the official tourist information site, or call Jersey Tourism on 01534 448800.
Richard Webber writes for various national papers and magazines, including The Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph. A keen traveller, he’s also editor of the family-focused review site Travellowdown (travellowdown.com) and he can be found tweeting on @Travellowdown.