Alderney is the third largest of the British Channel Islands after Jersey and Guernsey and is part of the group of islands making up the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Alderney has owed allegiance to the UK for over 900 years despite being only eight miles west of the France. While popular among tourists, the island is relatively remote, peaceful, and unspoiled. Alderney is known for its unique flora and fauna, beautiful beaches and bays, gourmet seafood restaurants, friendly and welcoming residents, and its laidback lifestyle coined “the Alderney Feeling”.
Alderney has been settled since Neolithic times and was conquered by William of Normandy in 1066. After Normandy disintegrated in 1204, the island chose loyalty to the English monarch over the French. Because of the island’s remoteness and treacherous waters, the island was virtually ignored for the next six centuries. In the 1800s, however, the English decided to create a strategic harbor on Alderney, building a large breakwater at Braye. The British also began building massive fortifications throughout the island. In WWII, however, almost the entire Alderney population except for six people evacuated before the Germans landed. The Nazis built concentration camps, bunkers, air-raid shelters, and concrete fortifications and camped on the island for much of WWII, waiting and expecting a British invasion of France.
Alderney is full of beautiful beaches and bays that tourists flock to every year. The Braye bay and beach is perhaps the most famous, sheltered by Alderney’s Breakwater, which stretches almost a mile out to sea. There are a number of hotels in this area and many come to the bay to water-ski, sail, wind surf, fish, and swim. Arch Bay is another favorite. It is full of large rocks that provide shelter from high tide. These rocks create rock pools and shallow inlets that make it safe to swim for families with children.
The island is a great place to go on walks and scenic hikes as well. Not only are there great landscapes like rugged cliffs, coastlines, and seascapes along trails, but you’ll get the chance to spot various migratory birds, black rabbits, flea-less hedgehogs, wild pheasants, white-toothed shrews, butterflies and dragonflies, and even Pipistrelle bats along the way. Many colorful and rare wildflowers also bloom on this island. Alderney has one of the highest densities of unique plant species in the world.
The food on the island is also unbelievable. Cuisines of all sorts can be found, many of them featuring distinct dishes and the freshest of seafood. The island is home to many award-winning restaurants and chefs. The best time to come is in May, when the annual Alderney Seafood Festival is held.