In the warm Gulf of St Malo, closer to France than the UK, the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney offer spectacular coastlines, a huge range of outdoor activities, more sunshine and milder winters than the UK, and great local food. What more could you want in a paddling destination? Here we share some of our favourite paddles in the Channel Islands.
The largest of the Channel Islands has a stunning coast of steep cliffs, coves and vast stretches of golden sands – most of which is protected within the Jersey National Park. The south of the island offers SUP heaven off the golden sands of St Brelade’s Bay, one of the most popular beaches. The clear, sheltered waters of secluded Belcroute Bay are good for snorkelling and swimming at high tide, and paddleboarding and sea kayaking on calmer days. In the north-west of the island the sandy sheltered beach of Grève de Lecq is the most popular on Jersey’s northern shore. With high cliffs to either side it is sheltered from the wind most of the time and makes for good paddling. There is a large cave that runs all the way through the headland on the eastern side of the beach. On the east coast of Jersey, Grouville is an attractive, wide, sandy beach popular with swimmers as the shallow waters are warmed by the sun and the currents are not too strong, allowing for the wide variety of paddles from the beach. The jewel in the crown for Jersey paddling though is the offshore islets of Minquiers and Ecrehaus. Main photo credit: “Le Ecrehous” by Mig Gilbert is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Jersey photo credit: “Paddling” by Andy Hawkins is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
The second largest island of the Channel Islands is famed for its secluded coves and beaches and crystal clear waters. Guernsey offers a huge number of paddling options covering a variety of wind and sea conditions. On the north coast the large sandy beaches like Vazon Bay and Pembroke Bay are popular paddling spots as well as Cobo Bay – which is excellent for sunset paddles when the pink quartz in the granite rocks enhances the beautiful sunset colours. On the east coast, within walking distance of St Peter Port, Havelet Bay makes a convenient paddling spot; whilst Guernsey’s south coast offers bays at the base of cliffs that are often only accessible on the water. These are havens for nature-lovers and paddlers alike. The sheltered sandy bay of Petit Bôt, surrounded by impressive high cliffs and a waterfall, is our favourite on Guernsey. Photo credit: “Petit Bot Bay” by Niki Buskell is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
The smallest of the publicly accessible Channel Islands and only five kilometres east of Guernsey, Herm boasts six astounding beaches. Shell Beach, on the island’s north east coast, is a fantastic place to paddle. The sands of this wonderful beach are framed by marram-fringed dunes and shallow turquoise waters making them feel like a tropical paradise. With reefs close to the shore the paddling and snorkelling here is excellent. Photo credit: “Shell Beach, Herm” by luke_wes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
The closest Channel Island to both Britain and France, it is the least well known and hardest to get to but very much worth the effort. With its unhurried pace of life and strong community spirit this is a ‘live and let live’ sort of island with a distinct lack of stifling regulations. Close to St Anne’s and the ferry port, Braye Bay is the best place to paddle with plenty of great amenities and historic attractions close by.
Quirky and timeless with a coastline packed with caves and swimming spots and the night sky spangled with stars it calls itself a ‘world apart’. Possibly one of the best coasteering locations in the UK – and certainly a top paddling destination. The best place to paddle from is Dixcart Bay to explore caves, chasms, seastacks and more with plenty of marine and bird life on the way. Photo credit: “DSC_5071_NK53ArchDerrible” by GrahamAndDairne is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
Check out other top places to paddle UK
Top 5 islands to circumnavigate
South and east