By Rhonda Carrier
We're in gorgeous Vazon Bay, a family-friendly bucket-and-spade paradise on the northern coast of Guernsey, with a wide, clean beach with shallow waters. Before coming here, I didn't even know you can surf in the Channel Islands. But here we are at the Guernsey Surf School, getting ready for our 90-minute ABC Beginner lesson. It's open to all ages, while the summer school holidays see full and mini summer camps for locals and visitors alike, and you can also book family surfing lessons for up to five people at a very good price.
'Guernsey may not have as reliable waves as Cornwall, but the laidback teachers don't take payment up front and if there's not enough action out on the sea, you're free to just come back for your lesson another day.'
It's well worth considering the Channel Islands as an alternative surfing destination to Cornwall, where the better surf schools get oversubscribed, and where intense competition means some of the lesser ones scrimp on quality. Guernsey may not have as reliable waves, but the laidback teachers don't take payment upfront and if there's not enough action out on the sea, you're free to just come back for your lesson another day.
Our base is the comfortable St Pierre Park Hotel and Golf just on the outskirts of the island's capital St Peter Port. Family rooms and suites with kitchen areas and private terraces/balconies, a play area, mini-golf and an indoor pool make the hotel the perfect base for those wanting to explore this second-largest of the Channel Islands with kids.
We take the 20-minute ferry out to Herm, a traffic-free island with just nine children attending its school, 60 residents, one hotel, a campsite and some self-catering cottages. Its pristine Shell Beach is listed as one of Britain's top 20 by TripAdvisor. Another day, we make a tour of Herm by RIB inflatable, spotting seals and puffins as we bounce over the waves, and we explore Guernsey's Castle Cornet, where costumed soldiers fire a cannon at noon daily.
And we enjoy a guided cycle ride with Donkey's Days Out, stopping off to sample the deliciously dry local cider, Roquette, at the farm where it's made. Children are welcome on many of the firm's tours but have to be confident cyclists, as Guernsey roads are very narrow and two way, so cars can pass quite closely, although slowly (the island speed limit is 35mph).
For eating out in Guernsey, it doesn't come much better than the spanking-fresh seafood at the quirky Le Petit Bistrot in the heart of St Peter Port, although we can also heartily recommend the Urban Kitchen.
Read more about family holidays and breaks in the Channel Islands.