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Welcome to the (Real) Jersey Shore

The OG Jersey, that is.

What comes to mind when you think “Jersey?” Hoboken? Saltwater Taffy? Snooki? I’m actually referring to the original, a European island best known for rich cream afternoon teas, quaint country lanes dotted with honesty boxes, and seas so scrumptious that locals dip their toes in whenever they get the chance. Jersey is a British Crown Dependency, and in a similar fashion to Puerto Rico for U.S. travelers, a flight from the U.K. requires no passport for distinct getaway vibes. I headed to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to uncover this bubbling under-the-radar destination, and here’s what I found.

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It’s British, With a Sprinkle of French

Because we all know that a British-French blend of anything is irresistible (à la Emily’s Alfie vs. Gabriel dilemma), Jersey has the best of both worlds. Locals speak with a charming Greater London accent, the currency is the British pound (currently still with a Queen Lizzie smile), and afternoon tea at Tides was the creamiest tier of treats I’d ever had. Thanks to the island’s positioning on the coast of Normandy, you’re blessed with French coastal charm, sexy road names like La Rue de la Poterie, and even a local patois language, Jèrriais.

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You Get Boutique Views Everywhere

It’s refreshing not to catch a whiff of Starbucks or Sugar Factory by the sparkling sea. Most of Jersey’s 48-mile coastline businesses are independent and excellent. Check out the Portelet Bay Cafe which sits on bay rocks and can only be accessed on foot or boat, rewarding patrons with a secluded enclave of waves, or The Driftwood Café in Archirondel, where seafood is caught fresh by the young local fishing couple behind Jade-S Fisheries and cakes are baked lovingly on-site. Bring a friend, or make a new one over a cuppa–boutique views mean boutique company.

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And That Goes for the Hotels, Too

With major cities, you can’t escape big chains, but Jersey’s hotels pack bags of personality. I stayed at The Moorings Hotel and Restaurant, a family-run establishment at the base of Mont Orgueil Castle in Gorey Pier, and the first Mr. and Mrs. Smith-approved hotel in the Channel Islands. There are just 14 seaside chic rooms decked in local art and historic furnishings, and every night the front desk person has a flask of Jersey milk waiting for your return. It’s a bit like staying with a thoughtful friend who happens to be a chef, yoga instructor, and interior designer. The crashing waves make the perfect white noise for sleep.

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Jersey Cows Are Ever so Gorgeous

There’s good reason why udders here produce the creamiest potions around. Jersey’s cows have some of the highest standards of care in the entire world, and all that pampering certainly shows. The Woodlands Farm is helmed by the Le Boutillier family, who have been milking (and growing potatoes) for five generations. In commercial dairy farming, calves are often ripped away from their mothers hours after birth, causing emotional and physical distress, since milk produced by momma right after birth is vital for nutrients and antibodies. Instead, newborns here are given ample time with mom—a proper start to life, and the herds here grow with a glow. Jersey’s caramel-colored darlings, therefore, produce the creamiest, richest, and smoothies milk products; and whilst it costs more to raise happy cows, the extra few bucks per carton are well worth the quality.

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You Can Eat Plants Right Off the Ground

As a city boy, I did something completely out of my comfort zone: I picked and ate plants right off the ground. Outdoor enthusiast Kazz leads foraging expeditions around the island with his company, Wild Adventures Jersey, where guests join him on a search for edible plants, seaweeds, and shellfish both along the coast and on land. “The beauty about Jersey is that you’re never far from the sea, so the foraging is really diverse,” he told me as we nibbled on garlic wildflowers, plucked mushrooms from tree trunks, and dug up roots. Though at first, I felt like a Jersey Cow, by the end I was throwing handfuls of rocket (arugula) from the trail into my trap, and guess what? I survived…and felt great!

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Or Buy Produce From Honesty Boxes

Ever stayed at a fancy hotel with an honest bar, and poured four drinks, but paid for two? Guilty. In Jersey, either people don’t play such sneak attacks on vendors, or vendors just don’t care. You’ll find “Honesty Boxes” on country lanes where 15mph is the limit (very handy for browsing) with products ranging from sweet Jersey Royal potatoes to strawberries. Bring correct change or pay by bank transfer.


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There’s History That Dates Back Farther Than the Pyramids

History buffs, don’t be deceived by the 9×5 miles of land, Jersey’s history dates back centuries: there are coastal defense bunkers that tell stories of island occupation; ancient ruins older than the Pyramids, and Stonehenge; and Ice Age mammoths in the volcanic bedrock of the island that once stretched to France. I visited La Hougue Bie, one of the ten oldest buildings in the world, dating back to 4000-3500 BC, as well as discovered what life was like here during World War II at the Jersey War Tunnels. Heritage Passes are available on Viator for those seeking more historic exploration.

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Adventure Sports Are Big on the Island

Sun, waves, hills, and island vibes are a natural recipe for adventure sport, and whilst I didn’t engage in anything too strenuous, it was evident that the locals did, almost year-round. “My brother returned from Bali, and immediately hit the winter waves. He never stops surfing,” one told me. Operators like Jono’s Watersports offer kayaking, sailing, surfing, and even blo-karting (land yachting); Wild Adventures Jersey also does abseiling and rock climbing; and El Tico is home to one of the oldest surfing clubs in Europe.

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You Can Still Party in the City

It’s not all early nights and sunrise hikes. I was pleased to discover a bustling entertainment and dining scene in St Helier. Awabi, a Michelin-acclaimed pan-Asian restaurant was started by the siblings of immigrant parents who opened a Chinese takeaway. I happened to be in town at the same time as a gin launch party at speakeasy-style bar, The Porter’s Store, and then made wonderful new friends at the cocktail bar and restaurant, Upstairs at Anley Street.

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Superman Is a Superfan of the Jersey Zoo

Jersey-born actor, Henry Cavill, aka Superman, is an avid supporter of the Jersey Zoo, home to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which works to save species from extinction. Jersey Zoo is one of the first with conservation at the forefront, playing a pivotal role in conservation around the world. Henry supports the zoo not only with visits but with fundraising activities. Many of the animals here are free-roaming too, so if you haven’t come with hopes of bumping into Henry, you’re sure to have other equally handsome encounters.