You didn’t know you wanted to go to Jersey? Neither did I. But right now this pretty Channel Island, just a few miles off the coast of France, is your best option for an almost-foreign holiday involving sun, sand and some of the kindest people you could ever meet. This is not an exaggeration. I was astonished by the good manners and natural warmth of the islanders. With roughly the same population as Bath, Jersey is a tiny place where everybody knows everybody. ‘That’s why we’re all so incredibly nice,’ says Sean Kinsella, our good-natured kayaking guide. ‘You have to be or the island wouldn’t work.’ As he leads me and my partner Georgia, both in wetsuits, across the beach, he is greeted by a dozen locals. Soon after, we’re out at sea in our kayaks, gazing at the crazy spires of pink granite that rear out of the clear waters, listening to the shrill cry of the oystercatchers overhead, and wishing we’d discovered Jersey years ago. The reason the island is exempt from travel restrictions is that it’s a British Crown Dependency, so it doesn’t count as abroad. Yet because it isn’t part of the UK, it makes its own rules. This is not an exaggeration If you’re from one of the majority of UK regions classed as Covid-safe, you can just fly in and take a free PCR test at the airport. Tony, the nurse who did my test, said he liked my straw hat. I offered to swap it for his face shield, but he declined. This, however, was my first taste of Jersey charm. It’s not easy being likeable while swabbing a nose. The only catch is that those who have not had both jabs have to isolate until their results come through by text, which can take up to 12 hours – and in our case, it did. Luckily, our berth at the swanky Atlantic Hotel had a balcony, so we watched the sunset while making the most of room service. By the time we woke up the next morning, we had the all-clear. Putting aside recent squabbles with French fishermen over post-Brexit fishing licences, everything on the island really does seem nice. Jersey is like wandering into an advertisement for Werther’s Originals, the old-fashioned toffees whose sentimental branding includes images of grandfathers dandling toddlers on their knees. That’s how it feels as we drive slowly around the winding lanes of the island, past wisteria-clad cottages, while in the near distance the sunshine twinkles on the surface of the sea. Actually, it occurs to me at some point that I should buy an actual packet of Werther’s Originals. But more sophisticated culinary delights are in store. That evening, taking her first bite of the mind-blowing banana soufflé at Samphire restaurant in St Helier, Georgia emits a noise that is not unlike the call of an oystercatcher. We are similarly excited the next day during lunch at Sumas, on the island’s east coast. We sit out on the terrace and the sun – seen more often on Jersey in 2020 than anywhere else on the British Isles – dutifully reappears. Across the bay looms the castle of Mont Orgueil. My rock oysters were sourced from one side of it. With a squeeze of lemon, they taste as fresh as a sea breeze. We learn from Paul Dufty, Sumas’s suave owner, that Georgia’s soft scallops were hand-picked by a diver on the other side of the castle. With a main of turbot and a glass of crisp Spanish Albarino, it adds up to the best seafood lunch either of us has had in years. There are other surprises, too, not least the coldness of the sea. When I take a dip from a beach on the east coast, it’s my turn to squeal like an oystercatcher. Later, we learn that among the famous inhabitants of Jersey – as well as the society beauty Lillie Langtry and Superman actor Henry Cavill – was one Sir Walter Raleigh, who was governor of the island for three years at the start of the 17th century. The great adventurer came at a time when he was out of favour with Good Queen Bess. His tobacco habit dismayed the islanders, who feared smoking might be unhealthy. But they were grateful for the mighty castle he built on a rock in the bay at St Helier. He called it Elizabeth Castle in the hope of flattering the queen – but she died soon afterwards and her heir, James I, threw poor Raleigh back in the Tower of London. We walk out to Raleigh’s castle at low tide over the damp sand and marvel at its battlements. It’s wise not to stay long, though. On the shoulder of the Atlantic, the island has an immense tidal range. In a few hours, the place where we’re standing will be deep underwater. Back in St Helier, we reward ourselves with a pint of Stinky Bay ale at the Prince of Wales pub. Jersey has its attractions for the young. The surfing is supposedly excellent. But its appeal is perhaps more geared to an older demographic. I was particularly interested in the War Tunnels, a network built by the Nazis during their four-year occupation. Designed as a hospital and for sheltering troops from Allied attack, it is now a museum telling the story of what happened during that era. The personal stories – such as that of young June Sinclair, who was sent to a concentration camp for slapping a Nazi soldier – are extraordinarily moving. The quaintness of Jersey is such that you might be tempted to wonder what lurks behind it. The answer is nothing. Even the Devil’s Hole turns out to be just a large crater caused by coastal erosion. Beside the path leading to this curious beauty spot is an enjoyably understated sign: ‘Devil’s Hole – well worth a visit’. Without hesitation, I’d say the same about the whole of Jersey.