Experiences 1 July 2022

Planning a Day in Herm

Just a 20-minute ferry ride from St Peter Port, you can pop over to Herm Island very easily. And yet it can feel like another world. Relax on unspoilt beaches, explore sandy paths and see Europe’s most southerly puffin-breeding colonies. And keep an eye out on the water on your boat ride, as you may even be lucky enough to spot some dolphins on your crossing. They often like to come out and play in the waves when the boats go by.

Here are some ideas on what to do on your next visit to Herm Island, and how to plan your perfect day. 

How to get to Herm Island 

First up, let's talk about how to get there. The only way to reach Herm is via boat from St Peter Port. Hop on the ferry and a mere 20 minutes later you’ll be on what many call a paradise island. Boats operate all year round from St. Peter Port, with a more frequent hourly ferry service operated from May to September. There are two operators: the Isle of Herm ferry and Travel Trident. 

Just note that depending on the tide, boats may leave from one of two docks in Herm which are just a two or three-minute walk from each other. The ferry docks in Herm either at the harbour at high tide and at Rosaire Steps at low tide, which is just a 10-minute seaside stroll from Herm Harbour and its main facilities.

For a day trip, we recommend maximising your trip to Herm Island by getting the early morning boats that run around 8 and 10am, and taking the 5.30pm evening boat back to Guernsey. 

If you arrive on the early morning boat you can find breakfast at The Ship Inn at the White House Hotel, or pastries and coffee at the beach cafés.

Things to do on Herm Island

Whether you are keen to spend the day unwinding or exploring the island by cliff path or kayak, you can find great activities on Herm. On arrival, stroll around the island to get your bearings and enjoy views out over the channel, before settling on your preferred beach or head out on an active adventure. Herm has some unique features to watch out for on your trip including its beautiful small church, quaint fire station and the tiny ancient prison from years gone by. 

Take time to relax with long and lazy beach days 

There are two main beaches on Herm: Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay, each very different to the other.

Shell Beach 

Shell Beach is one of the most wonderful beaches in the Channel Islands. Millions of tiny shell fragments, washed in from the Gulf Stream, give the sandy expanse its name. During the summer months, you can hire kayaks and paddle boards or simply grab a snack from the beachside kiosk before sitting, relaxing and watching the world go by - and spot one of the many boats float in with locals coming to enjoy an afternoon of island-hopping. 

For those looking to check out for a few hours, you’ll be pleased to hear that you may even lose phone reception on this side of the island or even pick up the signal and timezone of the neighbouring French coast!

Belvoir Bay

Belvoir Bay is a beautifully secluded beach on the east coast of Herm Island, just up a sandy cliff path from Shell Beach. Its location shelters the beach from the prevailing southerly and westerly winds making it a firm favourite for those visiting Herm, as without the breeze temperatures can soar (so don’t forget your suncream or you could be in for the infamous Herm-burn). There is also a beach café serving snacks and ice-creams, as well as selling toys, beach games and postcards from mid-April until mid-September.

Cliff walking on Herm Island

If you’re looking to get active on your short visit, Herm's south coast cliffs offer some of the best scenery in the Bailiwick - you can take in views across to all of the other Channel Islands as well as the nearby coast of France.  For a great scenic route start from Belvoir Bay, and follow the cliff path until you reach the steps that take you all the way around to near the top of Rosaire Steps on the Herm's west coast. During spring, you may be lucky enough to spot a puffin or two bobbing in the sea. Don’t forget your camera! 

Herm's scenic coastal paths can be walked in their entirety within a leisurely couple of hours. The gently undulating route takes you across a common to the stunning Shell Beach, with its clear waters and sand made of millions of tiny shell fragments. A little further around the coast is the pretty, sheltered cove Belvoir Bay. Herm is perfect for children, too. They will love its sandy paths that wind their way from one adventure to the next and its low-tide rock pools that teem with life.

Watersports and activities on Herm Island

You can enjoy the Outdoor Guernsey experience in the stunning surroundings of Herm Island, as they offer a full range of activities in Herm including kayaking, puffin spotting, archery and more. Either hire a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak on Shell Beach and enjoy a paddle at your own pace or join a kayak tour. Guides can take you on a two-hour Puffin Patrol adventure or even around the entire island in just two and a half hours! Pre-booking is essential on both of these trips, as they are understandably very popular. 

Wild swimming

It’s well known amongst locals that the water is a little cooler on the shores of Herm than the other Islands of Guernsey. In fact, the average water temperature over the course of the year is 12°C. It is warmest in the late summer when it peaks at around 16.5°C. However, the crystal clear waters are still incredibly inviting and worth a dip, even if it’s just a toe. For those who love wild swimming, it’s a wonderful way to start the day or refresh yourself on a warm afternoon.

Kids Nature Walk

Herm Island has a new nature trail for 2022 which offers visitors the opportunity to complete a quiz answering questions about the island wildlife. The trail is sponsored and supported by Specsavers and the first instalment in 2021 was officially opened this week by Specsavers co-founder Dame Mary Perkins and Herm Island schoolchildren, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Herm Common. The six boards are spread around the island to discover and you can get your quiz sheets from the Herm Shop and follow either a shorter route or the full trail to answer the questions. When you bring your completed quiz back to the shop, you are presented with an answer sheet and Nature Trail Certificate. 

What to do for lunch on Herm

After a morning spent exploring or relaxing on the beach, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite either way. 

There are several options for midday eating on the island of Herm. If you’re having too much fun on the beach and don’t want to pack up and leave for lunch, each beach boasts its own kiosk cafe, with a great variety of snacks and foods, from sandwiches and sausage rolls to ice creams and other snacks. The Shell Beach Kiosk recently received its licence and serves excellent lunches with accompanying glasses of wine overlooking the beach. Both beach cafés on the east coast serve all day. Sit at one of the picnic benches at the café or hire a deckchair and head back to your claimed spot. Or you could bring a picnic from home and enjoy the views from under your brolly. 

For a casual pub meal in the sun head to The Mermaid Tavern by the harbour or visit The Ship Inn for a great menu on the grounds of The White House Hotel, with afternoon tea also available later in the day. 

Where to stay on Herm Island

Sometimes a day trip just isn’t enough. If you are planning to spend a few days on paradise island, here are our recommendations of places to stay on Herm Island: 

The White House Hotel

There is only one hotel on Herm Island. Quality over quantity, The White House Hotel is set in award-winning gardens and boasts the most captivating sea views back towards Guernsey. Facing the west coast it’s perfect for enjoying a sundowner in the garden. The hotel has an old-fashioned elegance and sense of decorum that transports you back to simpler times. There are no TVs, no clocks, and no telephones in the bedrooms which allows you to set your own pace and escape from 21st-century life for a day or two. 

Self-Catering Cottages

Ideal for larger groups of friends and family, Herm also has a charming selection of holiday cottages to choose from. The self-catering accommodation is comfortably furnished with well-equipped kitchens. Some cottages have open fires and their own garden, and most are fully centrally heated and double-glazed, ideal for visiting in cooler seasons. There is a small grocery shop on Herm for guests – pre-order your requirements and they will be delivered to your door on arrival.

Seagull Campsite

Sleeping under canvas is a wonderful way to enjoy the tranquillity and unspoilt beauty of Herm. The campsite sits on the top of the island and boasts 80 pitches with modern toilet and shower facilities, a laundry, communal barbecues and a dedicated warden. You can either hire one of the spacious tents on-site or even bring your own. The views from the campsite are unforgettable. You won’t forget that first moment in the morning when you unzip and peer out. In terms of supplies, milk, bread and provisions can be collected from the Herm shops near the harbour. Best of all, prices start from just £9 per person. Paradise doesn’t always come at a high price.

All of this is bookable via Herm.com

Early morning adventures 

If you are lucky enough to be staying over… the next morning is the perfect time to enjoy the island before the day visitors arrive on the first boat. It will give you a real taste of what it must be like to live on a tiny island.

And what to do next? It’s very much a question of rinse and repeat on Herm Island - enjoy the quieter life for a few days on a short break to the most magical of our islands.

Discover more about Herm Island here.