I’d been talking about visiting one of the other islands – Sark, Herm or Alderney – since I landed in Guernsey in February, but between long hours, lack of days off and saving for bigger adventures at the end of the year, I always ended up pushing my plans back. After being offered the job in Sardinia and handing in my notice, I knew that I had to make it to at least one of them before I left The Channel Islands…
I had finally chosen Herm after a friend had visited and I saw his pictures of perfect white sand beaches and beautiful wood walks – it looked more like a tropical island paradise than somewhere in the UK!
The island is just three miles from Guernsey but unlike it’s bigger neighbour, it’s practically untouched by development. There are no cars, no shops apart from the few small gift stores near the harbour and even bicycles are banned in order to keep the tranquility of the island intact.
I’d planned on getting an early morning ferry from St Peter Port but after a late night (and a few too many leaving drinks) I was running late and missed the 12:15 boat. When I did eventually get on the ferry, it was quiet – there were only a handful of people onboard and the majority looked like they were Herm residents who had popped over for a morning’s shopping on the “big island”.
The ferry only takes about 15 minutes and, if you have a gloriously sunny day like I did, is offers one of the best views of St Peter Port and Castle Cornet you’re likely to get. I ended up chatting to the ferry driver for a while, who told me I’d picked the perfect day for the trip, given the weather and the lack of tourists.
We docked at the Rosaire Steps (the ferry also arrives and departs from Herm Harbour during high tide) and I walked the easy 10 minute path to the White House Hotel and Mermaid Tavern. I passed both (mentally making a note to have a pint in the lovely beer garden of the Mermaid on the way back!) and followed the path towards Shell Beach on the island’s north east coast.
Aside from two sets of couples leisurely ambling back towards the hotel, the paths were deserted. I stumbled upon Herm’s cemetery (which, from the looks of it, has a grand total of two headstones) and crossed the centre of the island to Shell Beach. Herm is only 1½ miles long and less than half a mile wide, so everything on the island is easily reachable from where the boat docks.
I followed the signs for Shell Beach Café and as I came over the sand dunes, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the beach was. Flawless white sand stretching as far north as I could see, azure blue water and (most importantly) not a single person in sight! I had to remind myself that I was still, technically, in the UK…it looked like paradise.
I sat on the sand for a while and watched some boats in the distance before I took my shoes off and went for a paddle. The small kiosk/café was empty apart from the assistant so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back down towards the water to collect shells.
After an hour of chilled out bliss, I decided to continue on round the island towards my next stop of Belvoir Bay – another perfectly white and deserted beach. The Bay is much smaller than Shell Beach and sheltered, with another small kiosk serving drinks and snacks. I didn’t stay for very long – I wanted to make sure I saw the little church and had time to grab a drink in the Mermaid Tavern and Ship Inn before I had to get the boat back.
The path from Belvoir Bay to St Tugual’s Chapel, through a shaded, wooded area of the island was a nice break from the sun. I hadn’t worn any sunscreen and I was starting to think that I may have caught a little of what the locals call the “Herm Burn”!
I passed a couple of islanders on tractors (the only form of transport that is allowed) and found myself at St Tugual’s. The church was built in the 11th century and has a pretty little garden, as well as some interesting stained glass windows (Guernsey cows, Jesus on Herm…that sort of thing!)
I headed back towards the harbour and stopped into The Mermaid, where a surly Scottish barmaid (us Scots get everywhere!) informed me that they had, in fact, run out of Herm Island Gold Beer. Disappointed, I made do with a pint of cider and then took myself to the (much friendlier staffed) Ship Inn for a “Belvoir Beach” cocktail.
The helpful barman phoned to check where the boat was departing from and after some high tide/low tide/weather chat, I was making my way back down towards the Rosaire Steps, where there suddenly seemed to be an awful lot of people. I’m not sure where any of them had come from (the hotels maybe) but the boat back to Guernsey was full.
It was my last night off in Guernsey and I was determined to make it back to the island’s west coast to watch the sunset (there’s a post coming soon about the unmissable beauty that is the sun setting over Cobo Bay) but part of me wished I could have stayed the night on Herm. It might be small, but between the completely unspoiled natural beauty, the could-be-in-the-Caribbean scenery and the sheer peace of the place, my trip to Herm definitely left me with the feeling that I had just experienced something a little bit magical…
Need to know:
Getting there and away:
- Trident Ferry run services to and from Herm Island daily. It costs £12 return and you can find the timetable here
Staying on the island:
- Herm only has one hotel – The White House – which is pretty pricey but you can also rent holiday cottages or camp if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option!
Eating & Drinking:
- The White House Hotel, The Ship Inn Restaurant and The Mermaid all serve meals, as well as the various beach cafes and kiosks where you can grab a drink and a snack.