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Travelling around the UK might not feel like the usual type of holiday many Britons look forward to throughout the year, but the ongoing pandemic and constantly changing travel corridors has meant a change in perceptions for many. Holidaymakers may find themselves shocked to discover that the UK is home actually to its own array of tropical waters and toasty temperatures right through into the late summer.
Jersey, Channel Islands
Holidaymakers seeking crystal blue waters, sandy beaches and an array of ocean-based activities need look no further than Jersey.
Known as the “little island with the big spirit”, though Jersey is just nine miles long and five miles wide, it packs in plenty of beachfront fun.
From incredible walks to soft sandy beaches ideal for soaking up the rays, Jersey is a holiday experience that will leave visitors shocked that they are still in the UK.
The island enjoys summer highs of 31 degrees celsius, and the clear surrounding waters look like something from a postcard.
From surfing and paddleboarding to dolphin watching, there are plenty of holiday activities to enjoy.
An added bonus with jersey is the “going abroad” feel when travelling to and from the island.
Holidaymakers can hop on a flight, which takes just 40 minutes, or journey overseas via ferry which takes around four hours and 30 minutes from Poole.
While the journey may spark some concerns for holidaymakers as the pandemic rages on, Condor Ferries CEO Paul Luxon told Express.co.uk that passengers really need not worry.
“We’ve done everything we can to make sure passengers can travel safely and comfortably,” he said.
“We’ve introduced a number of measures including social distanced queuing for boarding, hydroalcoholic gel dispensers in all passenger areas, and our food and beverage outlets on board now operate on a self-service, cashless payment basis.
“We’ve also significantly reduced passenger capacity, giving passengers room to move around onboard and experience fresh sea air outside.”
What’s more, all arrivals to Jersey will receive a COVID-19 test if they have not already had one in the previous 72 hours.
“Jersey is far enough away from the mainland UK to feel like a holiday but close enough to feel safe and easy to return home,” Louise Ashworth, head of marketing for Visit Jersey told Express.co.uk.
“The Visit Safe Charter, launched on 11th August 2020, provides Jersey’s tourism and hospitality industry with a united approach that reduces the risk from COVID-19 and the present and future impact to the visitor economy.
“The charter consists of a series of checklists that work hand in hand with the latest Government of Jersey Guidance.
“The initiative also gives islanders and visitors confidence that they can enjoy Jersey safely knowing that robust measures and protocols are in place to combat COVID-19.
“The Jersey tourism industry including hotels, restaurants, guesthouses, bars and attractions are committed to ensuring visitors have the safest break possible.
“From the moment visitors arrive at the airport to checking in to a hotel, taking an exhilarating boat trip, exploring a heritage experience or relax at the beach, we have ensured visitors’ wellbeing is safeguarded every step of the way.”
Ms Ashworth added: “Jersey is a little different now, quieter and safer.
“There are new measures in place that ensure the health and well-being of visitors and the local community whilst protecting an enjoyable holiday experience.
“There are plenty of crowd-free beaches and al fresco opportunities to choose from which ensures visitors are safe but still able to enjoy a fantastic holiday experience in Jersey.”
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Putsbourough Sands, North Devon
Even closer to home is Putsbourough Sands in North Devon.
Devon is a region renowned for its beaches and stunning ocean vistas, and nowhere is this more true than Putsbourough Sands.
The beach took home Trip Advisor’s Best UK beaches award for two years running and offers 12 hours of sun per day in September making it an ideal spot for those looking for a late summer break.
Though Putsbourough is a little further away from Devon’s main hub of hotels, it does mean that the beach is one of the most tranquil in the area.
Three miles of golden sand invite visitors to relax and unwind to the background sound of the lapping waves.
On particularly toasty days, gazing out to the aquamarine waters might just transport visitors to a faraway island.
The beach is ideal for swimming and surfboard hire is on offer for those looking for a little bit of a thrill.
Rob Tucker, whose family own car park, caravan sites and self-catering cottages at the beach spoke with Express.co.uk.
“Here at Putsborough Sands we have, despite COVID, had an amazing summer,” he said.
“We have adapted our business to take into account the issues surrounding COVID and have received much praise for our efforts.
“The real attraction at this difficult time is the wide, open, and safe expanse of Putsborough Beach stretching three miles north to Woolacombe.
“Clean, spacious, and awe-inspiring, with lungfuls of fresh Devon air; coupled with the amazing Atlantic surf rolling in and our Glorious Devon Sunsets. Heaven in Devon and a real dose of Vitamin Sea, it does us all good!!”
Due to its popularity with tourists, the wider Devon area has also put in place a number of measures to ensure all residents and visitors can enjoy the region safely.
VisitDevon explains: “We are all constantly focused on the safety and welfare of our residents, visitors and tourism workers. This is a continually changing situation and we are closely monitoring government guidelines.”
Magilligan Point, Northern Ireland
For those who want to hop on a plane or a ferry, Northern is another UK holiday hotspot with that jetting off feel.
Though public transport does mean travelling with people outside of your bubble, travel provider assures passengers will be protected every step of the way.
“Ferry travel is the safest form of public transport, with plenty of fresh sea air, both inside and out, travelling by ferry is the only mode of transport where you can social distance,” Niclas Mårtensson, CEO of Stena Line who serves many routes from the UK to Northern Ireland, told Express.co.uk.
“Stena Line has undertaken extensive risk assessments, which have capped the numbers of passengers on each crossing to guarantee adequate space.
“Fresh sea air is also being circulated into the air filtration systems on all ferries, and new fog machines are being used to sanitise communal areas and cabins on the ferries and alongside the continuous cleaning routines being undertaken throughout the ships.
“Face coverings are, of course, mandatory. The safety of our passengers and crew is always a top priority for Stena Line.”
Once you’ve arrived at the Northern Ireland hotspot, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a picturesque holiday snap or are a history buff keen to immerse yourself in culture, Magillian Point is the hotspot for you.
This beautiful peninsula lies in the northwest county of Londonderry and spans 79,000-acre with ocean views all around.
The area is both rich is historic and conservation, home to one of the UK’s largest sand dune systems, as well as a small fort built in the 19th century.
Along with awe-inspiring vistas, the beach is also a great location to hang out and spot some local wildlife including an array of seabirds.
However, if you’re hoping for long, lazy days relaxing in the heat, Magillian may not necessarily be the one for you.
Temperatures in the summer months reach highs of just 19 degrees.
With that said, the area does still promise some sunshine, with around 13 hours of golden rays on average per day.
Lunan Bay, Scotland
Tropical blue waters might not be what you first think of when you think of northern Scotland, but that is exactly what Lunan Bay has to offer.
This rugged seaside escape is a mass of sand dunes and clifftops, offering two miles of beach views.
To make things even more magical, the golden sands occasionally reveal glittering gemstones hidden amongst the grains.
From Viking armies in the 10th century to generations of holidaymakers today, the bay offers a secluded haven on the dramatic Angus coastline.
Adding to the dramatic landscape is the crumbling ruin of Red Castle which overlooks the bay and dates from the 12th century.
The beach is a popular destination for surfers and horse riders, and traditional fishing is still practised here with nets strung on poles dug into the sand to trap fish in the receding tide.
The beach is also a wonderful place to go bird watching with several fantastic species to spot.
Its far-flung location means that coronavirus cases have stayed relatively low, and the fresh air promises plenty of outdoor opportunities for visitors.
This Welsh hotspot is home to some of the most magnificent beaches in all of the UK.
From the clifftops look down on to cerulean rippling waves, often frequented by surfers and kayakers.
For those looking for a holiday that is bountiful in water sports, Pembrokeshire offers plenty of opportunities to get out into the ocean surf.
A kayaking trip out of Stackpole Quay offers paddlers cave exploration, fun in the surf and the discovery of idyllic dune-backed beaches.
Claire Rees, tourism marketing Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council spoke to Express.co.uk to share why she thinks Britons should consider the region for their next escape.
“Pembrokeshire is a special destination as it has a National Park, one that was created mainly because of our coastline: The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Because of that designation, our coastline remains pristine just how Mother Nature had intended,” she said.
From sports to food, the coastal region offers plenty for holidaymakers to indulge themselves in.
“With a protected coastline comes incredible fish and shellfish which features heavily in our cafés and restaurants, that together with amazing produce from our farmers creating incredible beef, lamb and mutton, our market gardens, artisan producers plus talented chef and cooks are making mouth-watering innovative food,” she continued.
“We have a diverse range of attractions everything from adventure parks and zoos to museums and artist open studios to galleries with National Library of Wales collections, castles and ancient monuments that transport you to another time.
“Adventures usually involve water. Surfing, kayaking, coasteering and fishing are all popular.
“ You don’t always have to get wet, there are boat trips around our islands or watch our wildlife; seabirds, porpoise and dolphins and if you’re really lucky whales.
“Cycling our quiet lanes or dangling from a rope, rock climbing off our majestic cliffs along the south coast are popular too.”
Though Pembrokeshire could be easily mistaken for a foreign paradise, there are some perks it offers that heading abroad simply could not.
“There’s the obvious such as no planes or airport queues, no time deadlines,” said Ms Rees.
“You can hop in the car when you’re ready – yes, we’re in the furthest western corner of Wales and it may take a while to get to us but isn’t that half of the fun? The actual journey, the anticipation to get to your holiday. It will be so worth it.
“Booking direct with the owners – at this moment, in this climate of uncertainty if things need to change quickly for whatever reason, dealing directly with the owners can give you the flexibility and confidence to reschedule your trip. No fuss, no hassle.”
In a bid to keep tourists and locals safe amid the pandemic, the region has also introduced its own safety measures which assure everyone can make the most of their time on the coast.
“Pembrokeshire takes the health of its communities and visitors very seriously,” Ms Rees explained.
“Our tourism operators, shops, café, and restaurants are all working to advanced Welsh Government guidelines of improved cleanliness and have signed up to the UK wide Good to Go scheme. You’ll see the logo all around Pembrokeshire.
“The key to visiting Pembrokeshire is to research, plan, and book ahead.
“Your accommodation, attraction operators and restaurants will need a reservation and will collect your contact details. You will also be asked for your details in cafes and pubs too.”
Though holidays in 2020 are very different from the ones we’ve left behind in 2019, the good news is that there is still plenty of adventure to be had right here in the UK.
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