Travel Guide: Sark Island
Considered the crown jewel of the Channel Islands, prepare to step back in time with a visit to beautiful Sark. With cars prohibited, the Island’s unspoilt landscape and charming unpaved roads are best explored on bike or horsedrawn carriage.
Despite being just a 50 minute boat ride from Guernsey, Sark feels like an entire world away. It is a beautiful place in the world. The lack of street lights contribute to its spectacular starry night skies, ideal for stargazers. The island is in fact the world’s first designated “Dark Sky Island”. Once you arrive, embrace the island like a local and rent a bike to explore.
How to Get to Sark Island
The Isle of Sark Shipping Company operates a year round ferry service between Guernsey and Sark. Several ferries run each day during the summer, with reduced daily trips offered out of season.
The short journey offers fantastic views past the neighbouring islands of Herm and Jethou, where puffineries of puffins can often be spotted on the craggy outcrops and dolphins are visible enjoying the waves created by the wash of boats speeding between the islands. The journey is as much a part of the adventure as the destination.
Where to Stay In Sark
The island has a great selection of hotels, B&Bs and self catered accommodation to choose from, along with campsites. Below are some of them:
Stocks is a traditional country house hotel, with a poolside bistro and bar. Built in the sixteenth century it offers a variety of luxury rooms for couples and families, with plenty to keep you occupied, from the outdoor swimming pool, the wellbeing massage & reiki treatment room, to a small gym. They also have horses and carriages available to hire.
La Moinerie Village boasts nine guest lodges, all beautifully furnished, accommodating up to four people with further rooms available within the main traditional 18th century farmhouse. This is also where the village pub, Dog & Duck, is situated. Peaceful and private, this unique village setting really is a home from home to relax in. Make sure you spend a few moments watching the sun as it gently dips over the neighbouring Channel Islands of Guernsey, Brecqhou, Jethou and Herm.
Enjoy the magical charm of La Sablonnerie, a charming old world hotel situated in the southern part of Sark - Little Sark. Unspoiled and scenic with award winning gardens and dining, it is a haven for lovers of peace and tranquillity. Once chosen by the hotel guide, Which? as ‘The place to stay in the Channel Islands’ and Johansen’s Small Hotel of the Year. In the words of the hotel, “Don’t leave the Channel Islands without visiting Sark and Little Sark. It will be an experience that will live with you forever. Birds, Butterflies and Flowers - Sark. How could one not enjoy this beautiful paradise? A stepping stone to heaven. A hotel with a real joie de vivre.” We couldn’t agree more.
For those who like to camp under the stars, Sark has many options. Here are just two of them:
La Valette Campsite is situated on the east coast of the island with fabulous panoramic views towards France. It is a family campsite where children and adults alike can enjoy the wide-open site to play games and enjoy the freedom that islanders take for granted! The site also overlooks Grève de la Ville Bay so it is ideal for a wonderfully refreshing early morning swim when the sun gives it its full beam.
Pomme de Chien is a family run, good sized campsite just a short journey to shops and bays. Campers may opt for one of the large fully equipped tents on site, or you can take your own. A selection of fully equipped tents of various sizes are available May to September. Alternatively, the site is open all year round for those bringing their own tent.
Sark is filled with charming guest houses where you can experience true island hospitality at very reasonable prices. Here are a few options:
Situated by the Old Mill, a five minute walk from the village and within easy reach of beaches and cliff walks, you can be sure of a friendly welcome at Le Vieux Clos Guest House. Stay in their elegant and comfortable Georgian style residence which has three en suite bedrooms and three with designated shower or bathrooms.
The Guille family have lived on the island of Sark for over 450 years. George’s boat takes visitors around the Island and Sue has been running an award winning Tea Garden for 15 years – twice winning Floral Guernsey’s trophy for best in the Islands. Now their family have flown the nest, they have two extra king size double / twin bedded en suite and one king size en suite and one child’s room with a full size bed. The two upstairs south facing rooms overlook the garden and sea and all rooms have tea/coffee making facilities. breakfast is served on either their sunny veranda or in the garden.
Clos De Vaul Creux is the only 4 star guest house on Sark. This wisteria clad, granite house offers elegant island accommodation and business facilities. It is a very distinctive private house located centrally, close to Sark's restaurants, shops, banks and the top of Harbour Hill. Guest rooms accommodate up to 14 people in double or twin en suite rooms, each room individually designed to give a night’s sleep in style with Egyptian cotton sheets, thick towels, tea and coffee facilities and TVs. There is also a resident's lounge with a big log stove, TV/DVD and leather sofas and a restaurant that seats up to 40 people.
A traditional Scandinavian-style 4-bedroom log cabin with swimming pool and garden located just 15 minutes walk from the village. Boasting gorgeous coastal views and cliff top scenery in the grounds of Plaisance home, where the internationally renowned Caragh Chocolates is based, the location benefits from being close to some of Sark’s most popular beaches and bays. It is also near the spectacular La Coupee crossing which connects Sark to Little Sark.
Clos Princess is a family home situated in the centre of Sark with three ground floor bedrooms, available all year round. Each bedroom has tea and coffee making facilities and prices include full English breakfast. By arrangement, they can also offer evening meals available in the early and late season.
Things to Do In Sark
Get out on the water with Sark Boat Trips for a trip to remember. Visit caves, birds and much more. The boat is licensed for a maximum of 12 people, however pre-booking is advised. Departures are from Creux Harbour.
Sark’s wide history spans several centuries. The museum houses an eclectic mix of Sark cultural and heritage memorabilia, from historic photos of rural Sark and its buildings of interest, to details of the attempted takeover of the island in 1990 (yes, 1990!). The museum also boasts a popular and important collection of World War II memorabilia, capturing the island’s unique and challenging war experience as shared by both islanders and British and German troops at this time. Rare re-prints of local wartime resistance newsletters are available to read, in addition to many interesting books about Sark’s unique wartime history. The museum operates on a voluntary best-effort basis and has basic hours which are detailed on the door - or ask in the tourism office next door.
An enchanting way to explore Sark is by horse-drawn carriage. Various tours are available that will take you through the quaint narrow lanes of Sark to places of outstanding natural beauty. You can sit back and enjoy the scenery whilst the history of the island is narrated to you by a cheerfully enthusiastic bi-lingual driver. You can share a carriage ride with other visitors or book a private 6 seater wagonette. It’s an island adventure worth taking!
Adventure Sark offer you the chance to experience one of the most unique coasteering environments in the world. A day coasteering in Sark could see you exploring some of the most awesome caves and cavern systems in the world.
Set within the grounds of a 17th century manor, the home of the Seigneurs of Sark since 1730, La Seigneurie Gardens comes RHS Recommended. The garden is considered one of the finest in the Channel Islands. Many unusual half hardy plants thrive within the walled garden, ensuring a colourful display from spring through to autumn. Enjoy the maze, the views and even a sun clock.
Where to Eat on Sark Island
This restaurant is well known throughout The Islands of Guernsey, with excellent reviews from many who visit. The garden is a stunning place to enjoy a little al fresco dining during the summer months. The menu is varied, but is often based upon local produce and there are always local crabs and lobsters on offer, as well as an excellent wine list.
A small, friendly café located in the heart of the Avenue and is a popular rendezvous for local people and visitors alike. The secluded, sunny garden area at the back of the café is a lovely place to spend an hour.
Nicole’s boasts beautiful garden and conservatory dining areas. Their varied menu includes freshly caught Sark seafood as well as other local meat and produce. They also offer delicious authentic Indian curries, ideal for when you want something different to eat.
Stocks pride themselves on producing good food using the freshest local ingredients wherever possible. They have a long-standing relationship with a team of local fishermen, farmers and other suppliers, who they call their ‘Sark food heroes’. They also grow their own produce in Sark’s first ever market garden. Dishes are simply cooked using exciting combinations of fresh ingredients to emphasise honest flavours.
The Harbour Café is situated between Creux and Maseline harbours and is open 7 days a week, from before the first boat until the last boat. This friendly café offers a selection of delicious home baked delights alongside local knowledge, free maps and information, with a sea view which is just a 2 minutes walk away.
Hathaways Restaurant serves teas, coffees and cream teas, along with light lunches, fish and chips during the day, and a full restaurant menu in the evenings. It is located alongside La Seigneurie Garden, and is a wonderful place to enjoy a local cider or glass of wine in the sun on your visit to Sark.
Fun Facts about Sark
- The islands of Sark and Little Sark are connected by a narrow isthmus, La Coupee. For many years it was believed to be haunted, and residents thought that their donkeys refused to cross the rocky ridge because they were frightened by the presence of a ghostly dog named Tchico - not because of the steep 260ft drops on either side!
- The “Clameur de haro” is a traditional custom historically used on Sark. If a person believes their rights are being infringed, he may recite the Lord’s Prayer and then cry “Haro, Haro, Haro! To my aid, my Prince! I am being wronged!” in French, and the disputed action must be stopped until the matter is resolved in court. This was used as recently as 1970 to prevent a wall being constructed!
- In August 1990, Andre Gardes, an unemployed nuclear physicist from France, attempted an audacious one-man invasion of Sark. After arriving on the island, he put up posters declaring his intention to take control the following day at noon. However, whilst changing the magazine of his automatic rifle the next morning, the island’s only volunteer police constable arrested him and the invasion came to an early and unsuccessful end.