If you’ve never visited Sark, the tiny traffic free island in the Channel Islands, put it firmly and squarely on your bucket list! I’d been hankering to visit Sark for some time and with a family trip to Jersey organized, I seized the opportunity to tag on a 4-night stay.
At 2 miles square, stunning Sark is only 80 miles from the South coast of England. With no airport and no cars Sark is a gem waiting to be discovered
1. The Pace of Life
It’s hard to imagine a world without cars – well here the reality of how sped up our lives have become slaps you bang in the face. The pace of life in Sark is delightfully mellow. The island’s blanket ban on motors means the only modes of transport are horse & carriages, tractors and bicycles resulting in an unhurried, leisurely feel to island life. Reminiscent of Trumpton, the fire truck and ambulance are even pulled by tractor!
The locals are super friendly and laid back. They embrace tourism through the summer season before the dark, stormy winter hits, and so it seems everyone has a smile on their face and is happy to chat.
Nothing happens quickly in Sark so enjoy the de-acceleration.
2. Outdoor Adventures
Sark is a perfect adventure for active families. For one it’s exciting to even get there. Kids will love the Bon Marin de Sark, the toy like ferry that put puts over to the island from Guernsey. With its outstanding natural beauty, Sark is a haven for wildlife - a unique place to get outside and revel in nature.
Getting to Sark is an adventure in itself. Buy a foot passenger ticket & catch the Condor Ferry from Poole to Guernsey (4 hours)
On the next quay from where Condor pulls into Guernsey, this little ferry Le Bon Marin de Serk will take you onto Sark. Sark Shipping Co (who run the ferry) have a free left luggage container for passengers - handy if Sark's a stop on a longer trip
From the outset you’re out on bikes every day exploring along country lanes, discovering sandy bays or rocky coves or simply biking to the shops for provisions & back. There’s now a vast choice of outdoor activities to throw yourselves into – literally. The adventurous can go coasteering, tomb stoning into plunging sea gullies & scrambling around the coast with experts from Adventure Sark (min age 10).
Adventure Sark also offer kayaking. Those seeking a more tranquil trip can book a ‘round the island tour’ with George and his fishing boat which takes in local wildlife such as seals & puffins (book in advance for this popular trip – visitors rave about it so we were disappointed it was fully booked on our visit). What's extraordinary fantastic about Sark is that it was the first designated night sky island in the world. With Sark's lack of light pollution (no street lights) the sky, on a clear night, is an explosion of stars. We all booked into the tiny observatory one evening and were blown away to see Saturn's rings and the Moon's craters from this goliath telescope. The girls had never the night sky so close up and were riveted by what they saw.
Watch in amazement at our night sky through this bad boy telescope at the Observatory. Book at the tourist office (recommended donation of £10 an adult)
Every day turned out to be an adventure. Packing up our trailer and setting off on our trusty steeds, we’d negotiate the dusty dirt roads (no tarmac in sight – heaven) following our tattered map to a place a local had told us to leave our bikes and find a path down this way or that. Dixcart Bay turned out to be a real gem, parking up and rambling through an ancient wooded valley more like New Zealand that the UK.
Dixcart Bay (pronounced Dicart) was an unexpectedly fabulous beach. Arrive as the tides on the way out to explore the tunnel. Top tip: take a bottle of rosé or a few beers on a hot day to chill in the petite beach waterfall.
Another day we followed our nose to the famous Venus pools – a low tide plunge pool, piercingly blue and ridiculously clear – the perfect place for our eldest to try her mask and snorkel for the first time.
Off the south end of Little Sark are the Venus Pool and the Adonis Pool, both natural low tide swimming pools. Plan to arrive within 2 hours of low tide. Venus pool can be hard to find - follow the cairns down the cliff to locate the pool.
Whatever activity you choose Sark is about cherishing the outdoors and inhaling the wild beauty of this magical place.
3. Safe Cycling
Cycling in Sark is like breathing. You do it every day from necessity. It’s a brilliant place to bring the kids because it’s ridiculously safe - there’s simply no traffic. Plus cycling is the perfect speed to take in the sights but actually put away the miles.
After the first few days the ingrained habit of meticulously stopping and looking at every junction for cars gives way to a more relaxed ear open for tractors. Minnie loved cycling up front and racing with us along wide avenues, singing songs loudly and cracking up into fits of giggles. Good old fashioned family time - moments of real childhood that will hopefully become cherished memories.
The Avenue - the main drag in Sark houses the post office, a couple of shops & a great cafe Le Petite Poule. Sink a coffee & down a pain au chocolat here whilst waiting for the mini supermarket to open at 9am (it's also got free wi-fi if you're desperate!)
The dinky island is only 2 square miles so it’s super easy to cycle round even with little ones. Renting bikes is a breeze. Take your pick of 3 rental shops on the island. We were in and out in seconds, our pre-booked bikes ready for us on arrival. The whole island is geared up for cycling – every café, restaurant or shop has cycle racks and every local, even the elderly, whizz around on bikes.
We hired a trailer instead of a tag along for our 5 year old. We figured it would double as a shopping trolley cum pack horse and it worked a treat meaning we didn’t have to overload our backpacks each day
4. No tech means family bonding
Armed with sketchpads, packs of cards and wetsuits we’d made a rule to forgo technical devices for our 4-night stay in Sark. With a constant battle against devices versus family time Sark is the perfect place to banish technology for just a few days and get back to the basics of family bonding.
Hand luggage only with no devices packed
Leaving the Ipad at home drastically cut whining and abandoning our Iphones (only one for emergencies) meant we weren’t constantly on our phone but connecting to each other, sharing long talks, playing cards, sketching, skimming stones or star gazing.
The Mermaid Tavern - a fantastic locals pub with ridiculously cheap prices and cheery locals. Our 5 year old mastered Uno in this tavern so we can finally now all play as a family - hurrah.
Skimming stones - a great family past time of ours
Visit La Seigneurie Gardens to see some splendid formal gardens and lovely café. We loved the petite maze with the flag tower in the middle! (Adults £5.00, Child £1.50)
Trot round the island in a horse & carriage. Top tip: either take a larger shared carriage for a cheaper ride on your first day or strike a deal at the end of the day for a short loop, rather than the whole island which can cost £75.00! (After the first couple of days you already know the island well from cycling and the horse & carriage is pretty steep cash for a family of four!)
Long days out exploring meant our mini cyclists were like us, pretty bush wacked at the end of every day. We’d make it back to the campsite late afternoon to have some chill out time before either a cook in or heading out on bikes for dinner - riding back in the dark with our headtorch beams on - so much fun!
Our tent at La Valette campsite came with a stunningly view of the milky way above us every night
An outstanding family holiday destination just a hop and a skip away from our coast, Sark is a true adventure and can be enjoyed from as little as 2 nights to over 2 weeks (although you’ll always wished you stayed longer!). An escape to Sark is a truly memorable experience that you and your family will never forget and is highly rated as a family bonding experience, with great outdoor activities from tots to teenagers.
Thank you Sark. This was our first visit but will certainly not be our last. We lost our heart in Sark!
For more information on Sark visit
Pre-book rental bikes at:
Avenue Cycle Hire www.avenuecyclessark.co.uk
A to B Cycles www.atobcycles.com
Camp at La Valette campsite - read our review here
Call Linda on +44 (0)1481 832202 or email email@example.com
HOW TO GET THERE
Book a foot passenger fare with Condor Ferries who sail from Poole and Portsmouth to Guernsey. From Guernsey it's a 2 minute walk to where the Sark Shipping ferry departs for Sark (journey time 1 hour). www.condorferries.co.uk 0345 609 1024
Sark Shipping have a free left luggage shipping container next to it’s departure point in Guernsey for its customers which is useful, although it doesn’t have lockable lockers so make sure you don’t leave any valuables. www.sarkshipping.com
Tip: Label your luggage with La Valette Campsite (or other accommodation) and it will be delivered directly to your accommodation from the ferry for £3.00 a bag each way.
Upon arriving in Sark, walk through the tunnel and catch the tractor train up the steep hill to the main street ‘The Avenue” (Adults £1.20, Children 60p). Collect your bikes from whichever cycle hire you've booked with and then follow the signs to the lighthouse & La Valette campsite
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far