Head here for the ravishing beaches with the most fabulous sand – just the right texture for building sandcastles. Even the more touristy ones in St Aubin’s Bay are unspoilt, but one of the most glorious is Plemont on the north coast – it’s even gorgeous when the tide is in, when it becomes a mass of wild crashing waves. As for man-made attractions, older children may enjoy the Jersey War Tunnels, which tell the story of the Channel Islands’ occupation during the Second World, and all ages love Mont Orgueil Castle. Younger children should be impressed by Jersey Zoo, run by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, founded by the famous author and naturalist to save endangered species. Though it’s pricey, it’s a marvellous experience, set in a terrific location, and you can also stay in glamping tents on-site (see Accommodation tab).
Visit spectacular Corbière Lighthouse on the tip of the island. Britain’s first reinforced concrete lighthouse can only be reached in low tide and is quite a long walk for small children, but it’s well worth it – it’s like stepping out into the sea, surrounded by truly delightful rockpools, and the lighthouse itself is simply beautiful.
Check out the aMaizin! Adventure Park, open April to September but best in July and August, when there’s an excellent maze. All activities (including a great toboggan slide, crazy golf, go-karts, sandpits and the aMaizin! barnyard) are included in the entry price. The Hamptonne Country Life Museum, a ‘living museum’ dating back to the 15th century, makes for another good afternoon out. You can explore the house, see how bread was cooked, play with traditional games and find out more from the guides, who are excellent (one does spinning on her own wheel).
Venture to Saint Helier in the centre of Jersey for the excellent shopping and lovely tea bars.
Again, make a beeline for the wonderful beaches. The Marine Conservation Good Beach Guide recommends the very popular L’Eree on the west coast and Portelet in the south-west. Other Guernsey spots popular with kids include Castle Cornet, an ancient harbour fortress containing a maritime museum and other displays, and Hauteville House, where French writer Victor Hugo once lived. Then there’s Saumarez Manor (parts of which date back to the 12th century), which has a pitch-and-putt course, an adventure playground and a sub-tropical garden. Oatlands Village in St Sampson has a craft centre, an excellent crazy golf course, a café and indoor softplay for little ones. And older children may find a trip to the German Occupation Museum both educational and fascinating. And Guernsey is also a surprising spot to take the kids surfing.
Discover the more off-the-beaten track delights of this smaller island, which is quite a bit more difficult to reach – you have to take a boat, a passenger ferry from Guernsey or Dielette near Cherbourg in Normandy, or a connecting flight from Guernsey in a 12- or 15-seater plane. Cycling, canoeing over Roman ruins, visiting the lighthouse for views of northern France, and exploring old forts and World War II remnants are all part of the fun here, but the beaches are bliss too.
Experience the unspoilt landscapes of this tiny island with its bays and caves, its green paths and valleys to roam, and its family-friendly cycle paths. Don’t miss a horse-and-carriage ride around Sark, or the child-friendly beaches at Dixcart Bay and Creux Harbour. The easiest way to get to Sark is by passenger ferry from Guernsey (look out for family discounts).
Make the ultimate escape from modern life with a trip to this car-free island occupied by just a handful of families. Pristine sands are the main draw, especially at Shell Beach, and rockpooling is a popular pastime. There’s a single pub, restaurant and hotel, plus campsites and self-catering cottages. Ferries from Guernsey take just 20 minutes.