Herm is one of the smallest islands on the English Channel, measured at less than a square mile. It is located about 3 miles off the east coast of Guernsey and is a part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Herm is accessible only by boat or ferry from Guernsey or Sark. The island’s visitors are mainly people from the UK, France, and especially Guernsey, looking for peace, quiet, and relaxation. And Herm certainly fits this profile; an island with a population of about 60 with no noise, pollution, crowds, or cars.
Herm has been settled by people since prehistoric times. The first to arrive on Herm were probably hunters and gatherers around 10,000 BC. The island was probably first settled during the Neolithic and Bronze Age, evidenced by the Neolithic chamber tombs found on the island. During the sixth century, the island was settled by hermits and missionary monks. In 933, the Duchy of Normandy annexed Herm and it has remained a British Crown dependency ever since. In WWII, the Germans conquered Herm and used it only as a practicing ground to prepare for an invasion of England. No fortifications, bunkers, or observation towers were built on the island. Since the war, Herm has been leased over to tenant families who have administered the island for the benefit of its visitors.
Today, Herm is a small coastal resort that advertises a pollution free, traffic-free, and stress-free getaway. The island has only one hotel, the White House Hotel, but it is considered a silver-service hotel with excellent facilities, including a tennis court, pool, and croquet lawn. There are also “self-catered” cottages, log cabins, and apartments that can be rented at Manor Village. If you choose to go this route, you should pre-order your groceries at the small grocery shop on the island so they arrive in time for your stay. There are a few restaurants and pubs in town, almost all of them are with the hotel and the other one or two are cafes and snack bars by the beach. Camping by the Seagull site is another option. The tent sites are by the cliff paths and have spectacular seascape views.
Once settled in, Herm is all about taking those scenic walks and criss-crossing through the sand dunes, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and cliff paths while observing the island’s variety of birds and wildflowers.
Herm is home to almost 100 different bird species, many of them flying south from Scandinavia, making it a great destination for bird-watchers. The island serves as a feeding ground year-round for robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, warblers, chiff-chaffs, and kestrels, to name but a few.
Wildflowers also bloom throughout the island, especially in spring. Some of the varieties include blossoms, thistles, roses, and the popular Yellow Horned Poppy.
Beaches also encircle Herm from all sides, and they are all golden and sandy. Beaches like Shell Beach and Belvoir Beach are sheltered with natural rocks providing shelter from the treacherous winds and waves; the rock pools in these beaches are great to swim and snorkel in.
Jethou is a small island located immediately south of Herm. The island is only 44 acres and is believed to have once been connected to Herm before a storm in 709 AD washed away a strip of Herm’s land. In 1416, Jethou became a part of Henry V’s estate. While the island is now owned by the Bailiwick of Guernsey, it remains leased to the British Crown and is not open to the public.