It's time to unpause life and enjoy a short break to the smallest of The Islands of Guernsey, Herm. It's the perfect island escape.
With the news that from the 1st July, The Islands of Guernsey – Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm – are planning to remove all testing and self-isolation requirements for many visitors from the UK and other parts of the British Isles, we are preparing to welcome back tourists to our shores, allowing you to unpause life once again here in our Islands.
Just a 20min 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 short break to Herm Island.
The Herm ferry is part of the adventure
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 by Travel Trident from May to September. Just note that depending on the tide, boats may leave from one of two docks on the harbour, 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 otherwise at Rosaire Steps at low tide, which is just a 10 minute seaside stroll from Herm Harbour and main facilities.
There are two main beaches on Herm: Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay, each very different to the other.
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 simply sitting, relaxing and watching the world go by - or 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 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, and it is a firm favourite for those visiting Herm, as without the breeze, temperatures can soar. 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.
There are a few 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 good variety of snacks and foods, from sandwiches and sausage rolls to ice creams and other snacks. 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. Make sure you leave space for a casual pub meal in the sun The Mermaid Tavern or head to The Ship Inn for a different choice menu in the grounds of The White House Hotel.
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. Starting from Belvoir Bay, follow the cliff path until you reach the steps that take you all the way around to near to 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 that is made of millions of tiny shell fragments, which give the beach its name. 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.
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 paddle board 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.
It’s pretty 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 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.
Herm Island has a new nature trail which offers visitors the opportunity to complete a quiz answering questions about the island wildlife. The trail is sponsored and supported by Specsavers and 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 and visitors can obtain quiz sheets from the Herm Shop and follow either a shorter route or the full trail to answer the questions. When they bring their completed quiz back to the shop, they are presented with an answer sheet and Nature Trail Certificate. The trail has been available to visitors since last month and is already proving very popular with lots of positive feedback. Many visitors and school groups have already completed it and Herm is planning on introducing different sets of questions over the summer so people can do the trail more than once, learning new facts each time.
Sundown in Herm
Sit on the lawn of The White House Hotel and enjoy a beautiful sunset with views over Guernsey. Alternatively, grab a bottle of bubbles and head over to one of the beaches on the east coast. It’s a lovely way to wind down after a day in the sun. Just be aware when walking back to your accommodation, as there are no street lights on Herm, so have your phone or a torch handy!
No matter what you are looking for, there is in fact something for every mood on Herm Island.
Dress for dinner in the double AA Rosette Conservatory Restaurant. It's a throwback to another time with traditional service and surroundings as well as world class cuisine, the freshest of local seafood, and one of the most extensive wine lists in the Channel Islands.
The other choice for hotel dining is the informal Ship Inn Brasserie, with its gastropub offering of fresh seafood and simpler dishes. After dinner, relax in the hotel lounge with a board game and lively conversation.
The Mermaid Tavern was named after an old cargo vessel used many years ago to carry supplies to the island. Originally a fisherman’s pub, The Mermaid Tavern’s cheerful, informal atmosphere is popular all year round, especially during the busy summer months when customers can sit out in the courtyard to enjoy a drink in the sun. Come rain or shine the tavern is great for hearty pub meals enjoyed either out in the courtyard or inside the pub next to a roaring fire. The Mermaid Tavern & Courtyard area has become the social centre of the island for both day trippers and overnight stayers alike.
Fisherman's Cottage, Herm Island
There is a supermarket option with fresh grocers on the island that allows for ordering, but is also stocked up with everything you need for the majority of cases. You can also find a shop for basic groceries at Mermaid Tavern too. Also - as a tip: you can also arrange for groceries to be delivered and waiting in your cottage for your arrival.
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. 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.
Ideal for larger groups of friends and family, Herm also has a charming selection of holiday cottages to choose from. Our 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. There is a small grocery shop – pre-order your requirements and they will be delivered to your door on arrival.
Seagull Campsite on Herm Island
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
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.