The British royal family’s official photographer, Matt Porteous, shares his guide to the Channel Islands.
Renowned and award-winning photographer Matt Porteous may spend most of his time traveling the world, but it’s Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands—the self-governing UK dependencies that hover off the coast of France—that he calls home. Jersey is also where Matt’s studio, Studio M, is based, and from where his team manages his profound range of work.
From serving as an official Royal Photographer (you know his pictures of Kate Middleton, Prince William, and their young family), to capturing some of the most epic weddings across the globe, to his commercial work for luxury and local brands, Matt’s projects and days are nothing if not unique. But it’s his new initiative, Ocean Culture Life—a project that documents the work of activists, conservationists, biologists, organizations, and everyday people working to save our planet’s oceans—that most ignites him.
Ocean Culture Life is the project that’s most closely connected to Matt’s roots in Jersey, growing up surrounded by the sea. Each winter, when Matt comes up for air from traveling and working around the globe, the avid surfer and adventurer resets at home, wandering Jersey’s beaches and cliffs, and chases the waves that are always just around the corner.
Matt Porteous’s Perfect Day in Jersey
10 a.m. – Nude Beach Breakfast
I get coffee and breakfast at Nude Beach which makes for a great start to any day. It’s right on the beach near the point of St. Aubin, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a morning high tide and can eat your breakfast with the sea lapping below your table. Always start the day with a double espresso and açai bowl, best in Jersey!
Nude Beach and the Nude Cafe in town are some of the first carbon offset companies in Europe, and they serve all-natural and locally sourced produce. The staff is lovely and friendly.
11 a.m. – Morning History Lesson
If there are waves, I’ll go for a surf or just take a long stroll along the beach at Le Braye and over the sand dunes that dip into the beach.
There are forts all around Jersey that are really interesting to visit and walk around. Gorey is definitely one worth seeing. Jersey was occupied during the Second World War by the Germans, so there are a lot of bunkers to visit and learn about the island’s history. The Jersey War Tunnels are pretty special (but cold, so take a jumper!).
1 p.m. –Surfin’ U.K.
Definitely go for a surf before a great lunch—ask the local surf schools about surfboard rentals and a safe place to get in the water. Then, go down to the beach at St. Ouen’s Bay for the best lunches. La Braye, Sands, and El Tico are all great options. Plemont Bay on the northwest coast is also really picturesque with a waterfall and incredible cliff path walks.
3 p.m. – Meet the World’s Rarest Animals
After surfing and lunch, visit the Jersey Zoo. It’s an incredible conservation center that was founded by conservationist and author, Gerald Durrell. The zoo is home to some of the world’s rarest animals, full of hidden gems, and has a great history behind it.
Also, walk along the north coast for the sunsets, dramatic cliffs, and coastline views.
4 p.m. – A Quick and Quaint Coffee Stop
If you’re in town (St. Helier), pop into Locke’s Coffee Shop.
6 p.m. – Early Village Dinner
I’d take them to the village of St. Aubin and to the Old Court House Inn for an early dinner and to enjoy a local night out away from the main town. Again, if the tide’s up, it will make for a magical night.
8 p.m. – Good Old Fashioned Fun
Project 52 is a quaint little secret for a good old fashioned cocktail. The Watersplash is also a great place with atmosphere (and often live bands) to grab a drink and watch the sun set over the bay.
The Jersey Essentials
Where to Stay in Jersey
My all-time favorite hotel has to be the beautiful Longueville Manor. From service to staff all the way to their insane pillows, this is a must stay if you fancy a bit of luxury. Their cheese trolley is also seriously impressive.
Airbnb can be limited in peak season, but you can stay in some incredibly quirky places with the help of Jersey Heritage. Barge Aground is a personal favorite of mine, located on the five-mile beach (St. Ouen’s). Here you can wake up to the surf rolling in every morning—dreamy!
What to Read and Watch Before You Go
Gerald Durrell wrote several amazing books (My Family And Other Animals being the most well-known) about his life that are definitely interesting reads before visiting the Durrell Zoo. It’s also worth noting that the 1990s TV show Bergerac was set here, so you can watch that before visiting. The recent film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society touches on Jersey’s history during the war.
Know Before You Go
You can book a day trip to St. Malo in France with Condor Ferries. It only takes an hour on the ferry and you can enjoy some delicious French cuisine whilst having enough time to explore the walls of St. Malo. You can also visit our neighboring islands; personally, Sark is a favorite of mine with only horses and carts as transportation!
Don’t be afraid to ask locals for directions and information. Most of the time you’ll make a friend for life whilst doing so, as we all like to talk!
Finally, make sure you visit in the summer months (May-September) to make the most of the beautiful beaches and hotels.