Nestled in the English Channel and bathed in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, Herm Island lies just 20 minutes by ferry from Guernsey. At just 1 ½ miles long by ½ mile wide, Herm punches above its weight, with breathtakingly beautiful beaches offering superb water sports to puffin watching, scenic walks and some of the best seafood you’ll ever find. From the moment you arrive, Herm starts to work its magic and you’ll soon feel like you’ve escaped from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You’ll soon discover why so many visitors return time after time. Here are some of my best tips if you’re thinking about a trip to idyllic Herm!
Herm Island is not a ‘posh’ location. Its appeal lies in the natural environment, delicious food and in relaxing while surrounded by spectacular views. The trusty little local ferries that wend their way back and forth from Guernsey’s St Peter Port to Herm aren’t geared up for passengers with huge bags, although you’ll probably see locals popping across to Herm stocked up for a picnic! Bear in mind that anything you take, you’ll be carrying and there are no cars, porters or luggage trolleys!
Bring Your Bathers
There are 6 glorious and quite different beaches dotted around Herm’s pocket-sized coastline. From the ever-popular Shell Beach strewn with tiny white shells washed up by the Gulf Stream to the seclusion and tranquillity offered by Oyster there’s a beach to suit all visitors. The gently lapping turquoise water provides a welcome break from the sun’s rays and you’ll be spoiled for choice of water sports to try.
Note: Don’t let the gentle sea breeze fool you – you will need lashings of sun protection cream. If you forgot to bring some, you’ll find it stocked at the beach cafes.
Some of the beaches are serene and quiet, while others offer a variety of water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking and diving. The crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling in the shallows and the rock pools teem with life when the tide goes out.
Book your water sports with Outdoor Guernsey.
If you’re a lover of a fine beach, take a look at Jersey’s Best Beaches here. You might want to book a multi-island trip!
Let the Kids Explore
If you’re traveling with smalls in tow, Herm is exceptionally safe and family friendly. I was happy to let my son wander off to explore with a friend when both boys were 9. We agreed a time to meet up for ice creams and I got a whole 2 hours of peace to relax and listen to the sounds of the sea. Pure heaven for me and the boys relished their new-found freedom.
Ditch the Heels and Remember Your Walking Shoes
One of the best things to do in Herm is to ramble along the scenic footpaths, relishing the wind in your hair. Walking at a very leisurely pace, you can walk right round the island in a couple of hours and your camera will be packed with photos! Take in the views across the bay to Guernsey with yachts scudding by and sea birds calling before stopping off for refreshments at the Island’s only pub, the Mermaid Tavern.
Note: There are no bicycles allowed on Herm, so you can’t take one on the ferry with you.
Go Seal and Puffin Spotting
The Channel Islands are a haven for bird-spotters, with over 200 migratory species to look out for. My favourites are the colourful little puffins that breed throughout the Channel Islands from March to July. As the puffin colonies are on inaccessible rocky outcrops, the best way to see them is with a 2-hour puffin patrol by kayak from Outdoor Guernsey.
There’s also a colony of Atlantic seals to spot, out on the northern outcrop of The Humps. If you’re lucky, you might also see harbour porpoises and the 3 different types of dolphins that visit the Channel Islands frequently (risso dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins).
Take Your Pick of Eateries
For such a small island, Herm has plenty of places to eat, whatever your taste and your budget. Pretty beach cafes serve homemade snacks and drinks, while the Mermaid Tavern is THE place to meet and mingle over food and drinks. If you want something more refined, head for the White House Hotel or the Conservatory Restaurant for mouth-watering local crab, lobster and oysters, fresh from the fishing boats.
Tipping: Most eateries add 10-15% to the bill as a suggested tip. If you’ve had good service, there’s no need to tip more than this.
Getting to Herm Island
Herm doesn’t have an airport. You’ll need to fly to Guernsey first, then take the Herm Trident ferry from the harbour at St Peter Port (01481 721379).
Where to Stay on Herm Island
Herm has a good mix of hotel, self-catering and camping options but these get booked up early with locals from the other Channel Islands wanting a quick break and visitors from further afield. High summer is particularly busy, but Herm is a joy to visit before the school holidays start!
Your best resource for accommodation information is www.herm.com.